STARTING OUR SPRING VEGGIE GARDENS Part 1

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

We came from here: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1292197/#new

Thought I'd start an "official" spring veggie thread since some of us have moved from planning to starting. What's going on with your spring garden prep?

Today, I thinned these guys out and now I have one plant per cup. I also added some more dirt to the pots. I used seedling mix and added a handful of earthworm castings. All my transplants look great! This past Thursday I added a shot of seaweed and fish emulsion to the water and my seedlings shot up overnight. I had to raise the lights one notch today, too.

I also started more tomatoes (Rutgers), purple tomatillos, red bullnose peppers, orange king peppers, golden CA wonder peppers, Jalapeno M and TAM Jalapenos, and some borage to grow with my tomatoes.

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SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Today, I ripped all the broccoli, cauliflowers, and some aphid-ridden Chinese cabbages. I left 4 small head cabbages in RB #2. RB #1 has beets and turnips that are limping along, and some ratty turnip greens. The greens will get ripped soon.

My onions from seeds that I transplanted last week are looking very good in the EBs. Filled the reservoirs with rainwater and MG water soluble, and they are throwing out new leaves.

The 4-week-old seedlings potted up to drinking water bottles and set outside for the next 3 weeks are holding their own. They'd better, cause there's a constant breeze on the patio!

Still have more seedlings to pot up this week, and need to set the Siberia and Black Cherries out. They are at least 18" tall and still in 4" pots! AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH... One has set blooms already!

Need to get the drip irrigation up and running, and expand the tomato frame over RB #1, to hold up 10-15 tomato plants. The bell peppers are coming along nicely - slowly, but nicely.

Need to start my Eggplant plants, too.

??
How're ya'll preparing to refresh your growing beds? Houston Garden Centers had topsoil on sale for $.99/40lb. Bag. Since I never put any native soil in my raised beds, I bought bags to mix with MG Garden Soil. I plan to mix a 3:1 ratio, lightly break up the RB contents, and top with the fresh mix

How's that sound?

This message was edited Jan 28, 2013 10:59 AM

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

GG, I'm adding mucho Starbuck's coffee grounds this year, along with lots of ground up dungeness crab shells. I hope to have some hard working earthworms this year!

BUda, TX(Zone 8b)

Linda, as usual,sounding good!!! Just a few pics of this weeks ketchup..LOL... effort. Got the IHORT plug tray out and ran across a Jiffy "Triple" GH at Lowe's, 216 cells. 9 Bucks.. Didn't expect the Jiffy GH's so when I had already seeded the IHORT's I did an assortment. All the Baker Creek Okra seeds DIDN'T germinate except 2. I plan on getting rid of them or at least sowing them by the handful if I mess with them again.

Peppers haven't popped yet, but the cukes & squash are doing good. I've got 3.5" deep plastic pots, should I go ahead and transplant those cukes into those pots & salvage them. The root hairs are already out of the plug. I just hate to try to extract them out of the plug to save the plug. I've got plenty of seed to restart a bit later. On the other hand, with our expected weather this week, I could have them out during the day and in the house at night... I've already pulled the plugs that had the okra seeds in them to use them next round.

My next concern is getting the seedlings out of these Jiffy trays. Has anybody used these before. They look pretty flimsy and I expect they will probably crack upon unloading. That part of the equation didn't enter itself while looking at the price and being able to get them right away.

The last Jiffy 72 is full of tomato seeds that are already poking through...

Pic #4 is the Jiffy 16 tomato GH with Super Beefsteaks... Have another with San Marzano's & S.M. Redorta's.

Linda, Pic #5 is for you. Got these at Lowe's off the clearance rack, my hunting ground.... These are basically purple Earthboxes... Got the 3 of them for $10... Another find.... What's cool is they have a float that tells how much water is in the reservior.






This message was edited Jan 28, 2013 3:18 AM

Thumbnail by kevcarr59 Thumbnail by kevcarr59 Thumbnail by kevcarr59 Thumbnail by kevcarr59 Thumbnail by kevcarr59
Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

I'm a couple of weeks from putting any seeds in the dirt year, but my irrigation project continues. I realized I exceeded my GPH (by a lot) with the garden extension, so I ordered valves so I can turn on and off each row of beds. That will be a little cumbersome compared to just turning on the water, but also more flexible. Other than that, the mainline tubing went in this weekend. I also ordered from tree pots to start the paw paw seeds I collected last summer.

It's not directly garden related, but we finally got enough non-rain days in the row that the crew came out and worked on my drainage problem. Looks good -- now I just need a good heavy rain to test it out. If it works, I can decide what to do with my hill out back. I know it's getting landscaped with edibles (about 1000 more square feet), but the big $$$ question is whether or not to put in a new retaining wall by the basement door.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Quote from Gymgirl :

??
How're ya'll preparing to refresh your growing beds?


I got a big load of mushroom compost last fall and topped off the beds. Boy, that stuff looks awesome; friable and pitch black with great water retention.

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

I am harvesting cauliflowers, broccoli and radishes ... still lots to ripen ...

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Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

My tomato seedlings are growing 1-2" a day !!!

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Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

Last night I re-potted each pepper and eggplant seedlings on a 4" pot.
They are always so slow to grow at the beginning .
I have also started some seeds of zucchini ... just for fun.
I am determinate to win my battle with the Squash Vine Borer this year ... so I will try to gro a few plant of zucchini indoor and transplant out when the plants are much older ... maybe with the huge stem the SVB will not attack .....

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Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

In the garden kohlrabi and carrots are almost ready to harvest.
Kale and Collards are harvested every other week.
Lettuce and Spinach are producing regularly ... and yesterday I threw more lettuce seeds in the area where I will plant Okra later in the season.
White radishes are at their best. I am harvesting maybe 20 every two days. My DH loves them very much ... I don't ...

Twice a year, when I change my plants, I refresh my vegetable beds adding compost. I don't do any tilling or turning. I just drop the compost on the top and smooth around. In this way the beds also look really nice.
I buy my compost at NHG here in Dallas, a source that I trust.

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New Orleans, LA(Zone 9a)

Quote from Gymgirl :

??
How're ya'll preparing to refresh your growing beds?


I just top my raised beds off with several inches of compost and a sprinkling of azomite. I use a Garden Weasel to incorporate. Since I have chickens & can compost through the winter, I usually wind up with about 2 cubic yards by the time spring rolls around. I also had 8 yards of topsoil delivered last year when I started my beds. I didn't quite use it all, so I have this hill of topsoil that I can use if I need it.

Jo-Ann

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I just weed and add compost each year. Every couple of years, we also toss out a bag of lava sand or Texas Green sand or expanded shale to help with drainage.

I didn't get the onions planted yesterday, so Mark is working on that today (supposedly). We'll see how well that went when I get home!

New Orleans, LA(Zone 9b)

There's a place here called Nola Green Roots that makes soil and compost from the restaurants who want to have their food waste collected. They will even deliver soil and compost right to my door, so I've been building up the beds for past few weeks with that as I fight my weeds.

I've got some healthy-looking tomato seedlings moving from my aerogarden to some "cowpots" outside, then getting them in the right places is my next challenge. Today and tomorrow, it's supposed to top up at 77 degrees already!

I really want to do a zucchini for fried blossoms, but I don't know that I have enough room for it yet.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks for the feedback, guys!

Another ??. I KNOW there are cutworms in my raised beds, and I'm concerned about dumping my refresher mix right on top of the beds. Won't I just bury the cutworms to live and surface another day? Should I first treat the beds with Bt or some other remediation, to try to kill off the cutworms and the pill bugs, before I top off the beds?

This is the end of my first season growing in raised beds. Heretofore, it has always been eBuckets. Never had cutworms in buckets, LOL!

I have a feeling that winter is over, give or take the THREE dips below 30 we'll have between now and mid-April. Oh, yeah, it's there, lurking, just waiting for one of us to miss the weather report so the Old Man can come and put his finger on the seedlings and turn them into Christmas tree ornaments!

KEVIN,
I don't think you should try to separate the seedlings from the plugs. They were meant to be transplanted as a single unit. The plugs will degrade over time. Some of these veggies are quite finicky about having their roots disturbed, too.

And, yes, I love to hate you when you show me THREE Earthboxes for NINE dollars!!! Even knock-off EBs! LOL!

DRTHOR,
Good looking haul of veggies, as always. Question for you. What is the coding on your plant labels? I see the sowing date. Then after that, the first number is the dtms after transplanting out, the second number is the optimum size at which they should be picked, yes, and the third, (the "R"), stands for the Roots Organic that you planted them in? Nice coding system.

Thanks!

This message was edited Jan 28, 2013 11:41 AM

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

On my pepper plant labels:
on top the date that they were seeded
the 3 numbers on the bottom: days to harvest, size of the pepper, R= red pepper, Y= yellow pepper, B=black pepper
I only use Root Organics as a medium, so no need to label it.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Ooooooooooooh, Ok! Thanks!

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks for the link Linda.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Amanda,
Steph gets the credit!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

kevcarr59 said:

>> My next concern is getting the seedlings out of these Jiffy trays. Has anybody used these before. They look pretty flimsy and I expect they will probably crack upon unloading.

I haven't used Jiffy trays, but I usually slice my propagation trays even thgouh they are quite sturdy. I like to be able to work with a smaller number of cells when I turn them upside down and start tapping or pushing on bottoms.

Sort of like "tearable inserts" or 6-packs.

I cut from each side with sturdy scissors or tin snips until that gets awkward. Thin scissor blades help, also little "teeth" to grip the plastic. It can be harder to cut in the center of the tray with scissors, so I use a thin serrated knife in the center. For this, the smaller and sharper the serrations are, the easier.

It can be easier to cut the slices before sowing. That also makes germination and labelling easier becuase now each slice can be all-one-kind of seed, and it all germinates at the same time. When one slice has germinated, you can take just that slice out from under the humidity dome, and leave the rest under it.

If a tray is 5x10 cells (10 rows of 5), I cut it in to 3 slices, each with 3 or 4 rows:
5 x 3
5 x 4
5 x 3

If a tray is 8 x 16, I usually cut it into 4 slices, each with 4 rows of 8.

When a slice has only two rows, it is too easy to tip over. I treid cuttin g on e 5x10 tray into FOUR slices (3-2-2-3), and it "worked" but I worried about the 2-row slices tipping over. (If you do that, just "block" the 2-row slices on either side with stable slices of 3 or 4 rows each, or 4" pots. Like bookends.)

NicoleC said:
>> I exceeded my GPH (by a lot) with the garden extension, so I ordered valves so I can turn on and off each row of beds.

I didn't like any of the plastic irrigation valves I tried: they were stiff and relatively exp0ensive. What I do now is to use Tees with with a Hose Thread fittings, and end each run of mainline with a Hose Thread fitting.

Then I attach a cheap metal Y with valves (sometimes a plastic Y with valves). This give me a LOT of flexibility, including the ability to change the mainline geometry even easier than "EZ-Loc" connectors would. And I can add a garden hose, or short length of garden hose, almost anywhere in my yard.

The first two photos show a 3/4 compression Tee with a Hose Thread. I added a brass Y. That Y currently has a garden hose plus a 1/2" mainline with an EZ-Loc Hose Thread end.



Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA
Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Quote from RickCorey_WA :

I didn't like any of the plastic irrigation valves I tried: they were stiff and relatively exp0ensive. What I do now is to use Tees with with a Hose Thread fittings, and end each run of mainline with a Hose Thread fitting.
[/quote]

That's a really good idea. I use those fittings on my rainwater system as well as the main water feed and they are very sturdy. Unless I really hate them when I see them, I think I'll stick with what I ordered for now since everything is already in place except inserting the valves, but I will keep it in mind when it's time to redo a section next time. Although, by then I hope to have a hose bibb out back near the garden instead of a huge long run with 1/2" irrigation hose.

I do think I'll add at least one hose attachment, though -- I typically use my rainwater for hand watering but you never know when a little extra water pressure will come in handy!

[quote="RickCorey_WA"]
This give me a LOT of flexibility, including the ability to change the mainline geometry even easier than "EZ-Loc" connectors would.


Easy-Loc might as well be glued. I've only ever once managed to get one apart. It's greatly overrated, IMO, and I won't use it again. I only used it for the extension since I had enough spare parts to do it all once I added a few leftover compression fittings in.

Next time, I will definitely be investing in long-term PVC instead of this stuff. PVC is a lot easier to work with and a lot more sturdy.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> Easy-Loc might as well be glued. I've only ever once managed to get one apart.

Bummer! My wrists (and fingers, and palms, and shoulders, and forearms) got sore setting up the "compression" fittings on 3/4 and 1/.2" mainline. You really have to PUSH to get those on. But they seem secure once they are on (if you cut the mainline SQUARE before pushing.

BTW - I tried using the compression fittings at 45 PSI and felt pretty nervous, but they never "blew" ... and soon enough I bought some 30 PSI and 20 PSI regulators. But one night I left the 45 PSI water on overnight, and several compression fittings were letting a fine spray out by morning. That seemed like bad news.

Every fitting I buy says that anything over 30 PSI voids the warranty. All I know is that 10/32 threaded 1/4" fittings do not hold 45 PSI - not on vinyl, and not on polyethylene! They pop in a few minutes. The thicker "Rigid Riser" seems to hold 45 PSI with 10/32 threads ... but I bet it is not warrantied.

I use hot water on all tube ends before I push in compression or barb fittings. It helps. But only heat the very END of the tube - like 1/2" or 3/4". When I heated the last 1" of 3/4 mainline, it buckled when I pushed.

When I push barbs into 1/4 tubing, first I dip the tube into hot water (my Mr. Coffee pot) and then expand the tip using a spike bayonet that I ground to a fine taper and then polished a little. That flares the tip for a few seconds and makes it easier to push the barb in. Hopefully, it shrinks back without weakening the plastic!

New Orleans, LA(Zone 9b)

I've only just started to use the "cowpots" to transfer my seedlings into out of my aerogarden, but I've been slicing those down each of the sides before I do anything. I put them in some of the small containers I recycle, then filling them, and waiting to transplant from there.

Not exactly "rocket surgery" but it's been working for me! If an end of the cowpot falls off, I just turn it under. The kiddos get a kick out of the cowpots, and I got them on enough of a deal that I just don't fuss too much.

Besides, I have the feeling I've forgotten numerous seeds out in the garden beds, or the puppies and kiddos have spread them to and fro.

A bunch of mini bok choi just sprung out of the soil at the base of my lemon tree...

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Ha ha, I have nothing like that kind of pressure to worry about! I wish!

That said, I've never had a leak with the Easy-Loc and I'm not particularly neat when I use them. They certainly work well... but I would consider them permanent and any changes require cutting them out of the line even they look like they'd be removable and reusable. They require slightly less force than the compression fittings but my hands still get plenty sore working with them. Having used both, I'd pick the Easy-Loc over compression fittings. The Easy-Loc does require the fatter 1/2" tubing; the smaller Rain-Bird tubing won't work. I'm using .600ID/.700ID.

I tried to use 1/8" barbs with the 1/4" tubing once and that was a mess. Leaks everywhere and tons of wasted messed up tubing. I eventually got it all set but fortunately it was only for one small patio garden. It was my first system and I got suckered one of those kits. Never again.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Hmm, I thought my Drip-Works EZ-Loc fittings went on much easier than the compression monsters. I may have used pliers to tighten the EZ-Loc s.

Also, I happened to buy compression fittings for 3/4" mainline and EZ-Loc for 1/2" mainline. Maybe 1/2" is easier than 3/4".

I have not yet tried to remove any EZ-Loc, but I worked out a method for removing the compression fittings.
- cut them off the hose, wasting as little mainline as you can.
- slip the thinnest sharpest knife you're willing to risk breaking in-between the fitting and the hose.
- twist the blade and tip it to cut the hose above the compression fitting "lip"
- grab half of the hose with pliers, near the cut
- twist hard while slicing or gouging at the remaining tube inside the fitting until you cut the rest of the way through or manage to pull the tubing out with the pliers.

The last step is the most likely time to cut off a finger: being careful is a good idea.

You may nick the sharp "lip" of the compression fitting, but that did not seem to decrease its "hold".

It is reassuring to see how deeply the "lip" presses into the polyethylene tubing.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> I tried to use 1/8" barbs with the 1/4" tubing once and that was a mess.

I bought many 1/8" "Spot Spitters" before I realized what a hassle the 1/8" tubing was going to be. These were John Deere / Roberts "Spot Spitters".

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Well, the tomatoes I transplanted yesterday are looking great! I'm going to have to raise the lights...again! The hubby opened up the plastic bags I had some of my seeds sown in....sigh...

New Orleans, LA(Zone 9a)

Quote from RickCorey_WA :

I use hot water on all tube ends before I push in compression or barb fittings. It helps. But only heat the very END of the tube - like 1/2" or 3/4". When I heated the last 1" of 3/4 mainline, it buckled when I pushed.


I preciously used hot water to soften my 1/2" mainline tubing. Last year I switched to my blow dryer. But I was heating to much of the tubing. I may use a variation of your method & use my electric tea pot.

Jo-Ann

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Some day I'll invest in the tool that pushes 1/4" tubing into barbs for you!

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Steph,
The first batch of seedlings I transplanted up to drinking water bottles have been outside on the patio for a week now, and are holding their own against the constant breeze.

I Need to bring them in tomorrow night (and the next two nights), as temps here are scheduled to drop below 48, which is my cut-off point for leaving them outside.

The seedlings still inside under lights have taken off like a bullet, and are looking more and more like those in drthor's pictures. These are the ones I planted in 100% fresh Roots Organic Potting Soil. Took them awhile to kick in, but they finally sucked up the steroids, and are now growing like they are ON steroids. Totally beautiful!

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

The LETTUCE seeds I "threw" outside Saturday (3 days ago) are germinating already.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Watering from the bottom...who can tell me about it? I know what it is and why I should do it, but how does it actually work? Should I put some kind of "wick" in the pot of the plants or will the dirt just absorb the water??

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

If your pots are on a tray, you just water the inside of the tray.
The dirt will absorb the water by itself.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Steph,
Yep, what drthor said....

I pour in enough water to cover the bottom 1" of my 4" pots, then let them soak it up for about 10-15 minutes. Then, I suck out any excess water with a big turkey baster. I don't usually have much excess, cause I can just about tell now how much water they're gonna take in. I never leave the pots sitting in water overnight, either...Also, if you fill gallon milk jugs with water and let them sit for 24 hours, the plants seem to like it better than right out of the tap. Room temperature, maybe, so they're not "shocked" with too much cold?

Drthor,
PLEASE teach me to grow lettuce!!! I so desperately want Romaine lettuce, but, I never seem to get it planted at the right time, or, if I do, then the pillbugs just have a feast on the leaves...

I read somewhere that I could cover the plants with nylon netting, and that would keep the cabbage loopers moth from laying eggs on the leaves, and I have Sluggo Plus for the pillbugs. But, there's something I'm doing wrong. I still don't get lettuce.

P.S. I don't like soft lettuce...that's why I want to grow Romaine type lettuces...

Thanks!

Linda

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

Lettuce is so easy.
You just need to have the right germination temperature and lettuce grows best at air temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees (or even higher depending of the variety). If well established lettuce can take a low freeze. In fact my tender lettuce survived the snow we had at Christmas (under cover off course)
So check out your temperature for your zone.
For me in Dallas I can seed lettuce until Feb 15. It has enough time to grow before the really heat start.
Lettuce seeds need light to germinate, so you don't cover the seeds.
I just wet the soil and throw the seeds on top. I try to mist the seeds at least 3 times a day with a gentle mist of water until they germinate.
That's it !
I normally thin the lettuce plants while I am harvesting ... but I really don't worry very much !

Also, leaf type lettuce do much better in our hot climate. But when it will get hot, the lettuce will just start to bolt and the plant will taste bitter.

You should discover all kind of lettuce varieties. Romaine is what is widely served in the restaurant in America ... yuk !
I eat a bowl of all type of lettuce every day !



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SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, so much!! I'll give it another try.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks! I was wondering how that worked on the water. Now I wonder if the holes in the bottom of my cups would allow for much water to be absorbed. I used an ice pick and put 3-4 holes in each cup. Also, do you water daily? And can you believe, I have to raise my lights...AGAIN!

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

my leaf lettuce has been growing all winter- I may have boiled it and a few ants today, but it did taste fine...also got my onions in- not nearly enuff room for 1015's but some will grow as green onions, can't find a dtm for them tho-ANYBODY? have this? I wish romaine lettuce was served in the restaurants I go to- all we get is iceberg, and since the romaine froze this year its going to be hard to find....didnt take an after pic- I was busy drowning the area after I boiled it...Got to head back out on the road tomoro mornin, ths lettuce was planted as an experiment back in Sept if I remember right- or was it Oct. ?

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Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Here's some info I found from Rich Farm Garden:

Texas 1015Y (100 days) Hybrid - Short Day - Developed by Dr. Leonard Pike of Texas A&M University, it's name derives from the planting date in Texas (October 15). Flattened yellow bulbs with rounded shoulders. The sweetest of the sweet varieites, but doesn't store well (about a month). It is considered a Short Day onion, but as it takes longer for bulbs to develop, it can be used in Intermediate and Long Day areas.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

We got one bed of onions planted before it rained and turned very windy. I still need to side dress with some fertilizer and put down some leaves or straw.

My baby tomato plants are looking good!

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SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

They sure are looking good, Steph!

How big is your onion bed? Do you have a special quick connect do-hickey on the end of that soaker hose?

I'm still dorking around with getting my drip systems in place in three beds...

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