Saturday, April 6, 2013

Nite lites

     Well, it's been 8 days since the tomatoe seeds went in. I've had about 40-45% germination. Those aren't very good numbers, but it gives me enough for everything I want to do - with lil extras to share. The Tim's Black Ruffles I had close to 100% germination, yest the Amish Gold Romas I have had ZERO ! I've taken the remaining seeds and did the wet paper towel in a Ziploc bag trick...If the Amish Gold's don't germ I've got some Jaune Cote de Pigeion's chasing behind... Also got a lot of Purple Russians that germed. Makes me very happy.

 
 
Bosque Blue ( Now I know why they are called this )
 
 

I love this....
 
     I repotted the Chocolate Bells yesterday. For now at night time this is where I let them hang out...
 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tomatoe Seeds !!!

   Everybody who grows loves this day. I plugged in the Heating Mats, filled the trays with starter soil...and "let's get planting!"  96 seeds all together...lets see what we get for germination. I'm only figuring on about 25 -30 plants for myself. Give away about 40-50. I'd hate to kill the unwanted ones, but hey it is what it is.


 
I've had really good success with Tomatofest Seeds. Look forward to another season of funky fruits from these seeds.
 
 
 
 Blue Fruit seeds

 
 

I love this time of year. I get anxious and nervous with anticipation.

Making Amends

      Of course I had to call it this...today was the day I added nutrients to the soil. Let it break down of the next few weeks. I'm not sure if it was overkill, but I saw this video on Youtube awhile back and it kinda struck in my head. So for this season I'm gonna treat it as gospel and see what happens. Check it for yourself ( seems reasonable to me anyway ).

 
 
     Over the past few months I've put together what I needed Cottonseed Meal, Kelp Meal, Bone Meal and Fish Meal - all from Dr. Earth. I started things out by adding Peat Moss and Vermiculite...then loosely turned and raked the entire bed. ( Hoping to correct the Alkaline levels in the bed ). Then added all the nutrients....and raked and tilled them in. Will soil test again in about 4 weeks to see the progress ( Hoping to plant in 6 weeks or so ).
 
 
Various Meals pre-turned/tilled
 

 
Finish dressing on the bed. Cucumber trellis is done too.
     

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Damage Control

     This week was lil interesting. I was noticing a lil problem with the Macro focus on me Samsung EX2F. So I contacted them and they issued me a repair ticket. I had to pay my own postage there. But here's how it went....(a) UPS it to NJ on Monday...(b) received and repaired on Tuesday...(c) return ship to me on Wed...(d)...in my hands on Thursday afternoon. So there you go! We all have our personal preferences, but hard to complain about customer service like that!

     During this time I double dug the garden bed ( double digging is digging 2 shovel depths deep ) and screened and loamed it. Last fall I layered the top of the bed with a couple of inches of cow manure from Wright's Dairy Farm...free for the taking, just bring your own shovel and buckets. After sifting thru and removing old weeds and root balls I added 250lbs of Coast of Maine - Lobster Compost. So...then bed is all turned and now onto the critter fence.
 
 ( nice bird bath huh? )


 
     Fencing is all made with 3/4 inch PVC piping cut and painted with Krylon Fusion paint. Last year I only put fencing on 3 sides ( figured the chain link was my 4th ). But watched daily at the end of the season as a chipmunk did the end around and robbed me of tomatoes. So this season it's 4 sided approx 30 inches high. Anything that can get in higher than 3 feet I wasn't gonna be able to stop anyway.
 
     Last year I SERIOUSLY underestimated how high my cucumbers would climb. I had them at over 7ft and was tying anything to the top of the chain link to hold them up. What a cluster fuck! So, now the back wall of my trellis is made of PVC that runs 7ft high...tomorrow we string the rope trellis netting across this structure and tie it off to the chain link.
 
 
     I also did a quick/cheap soil test. I know that until the soil warms up most of the fungi/bacterias  don't start really doing their thing. However the tests show that my soil is WAYYY Alkaline ( Green ) Nitrogen ( Pink ) is very low, Phosphorus ( Blue ) is low and Potash ( Orange ) is normal. 
  
  
 
       As it stands I was going to add Vermiculite and other additives ( all organic ). But to offset the Alkaline levels I am going to add Cottonseed Meal and Peat Moss as well. But hey, tomorrow is another day. Just glad I got my camera back for today.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Just a lil closer...

     First off ( for the 3 people that read this ), I'm not gonna be on here all the time. While I like sharing gardening stories and bouncing ideas off of everyone, I in no way think my every thought is important. So that being said, keep low expectations of me and you will never be disappointed...Ha!

    I started my Chocolate Bells a couple weeks ago. From everything I've read I expected a germination rate of somewhere between 14-21 days. With those seedling heating mats...I had 7 of the 12 sprout within 5 days. So, in retrospect - invest in heating mats....worth the money! As of this morning I've had 4 more of them sprout making 11 for 12. I was expecting 75% but this is amazing.

 
      Once sprouted, I took the heating mats out and got the lil seedlings under the T5's.
 
 
so here they are 12 days from sprouting...just starting to get the 1st set of real leaves.
 
 
 
 
   I was thinking ( I do way too much of that ) that the openings on my Squash arbor may be a lil too wide to support a rope trellis.... So, I cut the roof apart and added 4 lateral supports.  Measured and painted.. reattached and waiting to bring outside for final assembly. I really hope this works... If it doesn't it will be because of some short sighting of mine... prob wind and storm sturdiness...I'll keep working on stabilizing it for weather.   
 
(BTW - NOT as nuclear red as my camera makes it seem to be).
 
 
And lastly, as I said before my plow guy hit the raised bed back in January. I took it as an opportunity to to upgrade and improve. I re-cut the sides and added and extra foot, also got rid of the OSHA staging plank..not sure if that was treated, so I cut it up and got rid of it.
Old bed was a total of 80 sq ft. (16 x 5 )
 
 
 
 
New bed is 96 sq ft. (16x6) - also turned the layer of cow manure I dressed it with last October.
 
...next is sifting/leveling and amending. See ya soon.
 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Samsung EX2F - macro camera

     Last year I couldn't get the macro shots I wanted ( flowers, insects, etc ). So I looked into the capabilities of my Nikon Coolpix...while it's an okay camera the closest focus point in Macro mode is 4 inches away...NOT GOOD. So I just bought a Samsung EX2F from Adorama. Tons of great cameras in this price range, but this one lets me get within 1cm (.04 inches and still focus ). Fresh outa the box this am, here's a few pix....1st one is of the ever-curious Phoenix.


 
Then some seeds ~ Moon and Stars Watermelons ( very cool close up )
 
 
 
Red Kuri Squash
 
 
and last the Densuke Watermelon
 
 
 
Great camera the Samsung EX2F, gotta play with it alot more. Gonna be a great summer!!!

My affair with Mrs. Wages

     I'm a cheater...it's true. Mrs. Wages and I have a quiet sort of thing going on since last summer. I decided I was going to get into canning veggies last summer. I figured that if the Zombie Apocalypse came along I was gonna have a skill that gets me into someones bunker. ( Yeah, cause a week's worth of pickles opens alot of doors. ) Within that vein of thinking is how I met Mrs. Wages.

     I wanted to get the principles of canning down last year. The times and temps.....working out the kinks. It's not as hard as it looks, but it is time consuming. I noticed that with making pickles there is alot of steps...brining, salting, waiting, washing....Whoa! Sensory overload! One day while getting some jars i see her there in the same shopping aisle ~ Mrs. Wages. She came in both Kosher Dill and Bread and Butter. Hanging out right next to the Salsa ( You had me at "Hello" ). I'm a tard.

    Anyway, very simple to use...pak the jars with sliced cukes...add white vinegar plus this mix and bring to a boil.....pour over the paked jars and set into canner.....and you're done! People keep hitting me up for more Salsa ( I made different types by adding , Mango, Peach or Pineapple ), and Pickles till I'm about out. I went on the website and found all kinds of Pickle Mixes that aren't for sale in the stores, also cheaper direct from the Mrs. Wages site.



  So consider this a ringing endorsment for Mrs. Wages Pickle and Salsa mixes. Figure that you will spend about $4 per session / Mix and Vinegar = 7 quarts vs. $2 pints storebought = $28 for 7 quarts
I'm loaded for the upcoming season,  I got multiple bags of each so I'll have plenty of varieties for sharing. Or, maybe I'm just bettering my chances to get in a bunker. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I'm done with seeds for the year...no, really!

        "Hi, my name is Chris and I'm a hoarder." . Granted my hoarding fits in a shoebox, but admitting you have a problem is the first step to awesome veggies.

 Besides my Squash arbor I got going for this Spring I only have 96 sq foot bed for growing. I made 37 quarts of Pickles last year and figured I'd cut back a lil on the cuckes ( last year 14 plants - this year 10 or 12 ). But I keep finding cool stuff to try growing. So it ends up I'm doing 3 Boston Pickilers, 3 Mexican Sour Gerhkins, 3 Crystal Apple Cucumbers and 3 Poona Kheera...LIKE i said I can't stop buying cool seeds....I'm glad this Winter shit is almost over and growing season is about to start. So here are the last add ons to my garden for this year....
 
Mexican Sour Gerhkin ( above n below )
 
 
Poona Kheera Cucumbers ( Indian )
 

 
 
 
 
 
Crystal Apple Cucumber ( above n below )
 
 
Black Futsu Pumpkin
 
 
 
and I do not have space for thee, but I got the seeds and would love to grow them...may have to hold onto until next year.   The Japanese Densuke Watermelon
 
 
 
Like I said, I done with seeds...for now....

T5's or T12's? ~ That is the Question

   The season is almost here. Last year I had green peppers in September, but they were suppose to be red. I clipped them all before the first frost and finished what ones would finish on the windowsill. During this Winter I had looked more into peppers and it seems that i should have started my seed much sooner than i did last year.
    So this Spring I decided to step my game up and get a nice setup for seedlings and propigation. ( Last year was a 2ft Walmart "grolite" resting on bookstacks. ) Now I've done a fair share of smoking pot in my day, so I found myself looking at Home Depot/Lowe's ( T12 and T8's ) vs. the Pot Grower's ( T5's ). Right off the bat, the first thing you notice is the price....I mean you can get a 4 banger of 4 foot T12's ....hood lights and all for around $60 - $80. And the T5's - it's almost $40 for just the bulbs...4ft lights are $30 each and the 4 bangers go for in the hundereds for some of them....my question is WHY the difference?

     It ends up that from what I've read ( I only researched to I satisfied my own interests, if you were looking fdor a dissertation...move along )  the T12 and T8's in the gro lights convert less of the used energy into lumens for growing and more gets converted into heat. Whereas the T5's are more efficent and convert more energy into lumens and have a lesser heat signature. ( Similar to gardening the Pot Grower's also need the lights to be just shy of touching the veg to stimulate growth.

     So end result is T5's = more light stpectrum and less heat sig. Thats why the costs are much more than the T12's and T8's. Worth the invertment????? Gotta decide that one for yourself.

     So I searched out prices and at the end of the day I spent almost $200.00 at a place called Atlantis Hydroponics . I dont want to waste my time each Spring with homemade bullshit trying to McGiver my light set ups.... so I bought seedling Warming Mats.

and this company called ViaGro has really cool T5 light stands ( almost look like the partitions inside a file cabinent ). On one side they will fit perfectly to a 2 inch domed propigation tray, then once they exceed that height you flip them around and they fit over a 6 or 7 inch tray .
 
 
So....I'm jacked, stacked and ready to go....next Monday I'm plugging in the warming mat and in go the Chocolate Bell Peppers. I'm gonna give these babies a good 8- 10 week head start indoors.
 
 
 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

1989 Tour de France Jerseys

Wow! What an amazing Tour. Greg LeMond wins on the last day, winning overall by :08 seconds ( the closest margin ever ). The Dutch PDM team takes 4 of the 5 "Leaders Jerseys". Cycling in the US was a low tier sport until LeMond won then Lance Armstrong ( though we all know what a shitbag he is now ). So finding European cycling jerseys here in the US was always had to come by, until latley. With the internet, places like eBay and Craigslist, I can now try to find some of these sports jerseys I've long coveted. Today (2-19-2013) I just aquired from England the red "Chase" jersey...and I'm so happy. I got one more to go to complete the set...I'll keep looking, hopefully I find it in my lifetime. Till then, here's a lil more on the 1989 TDF ~

For the 1989 edition of the Tour de France, the Societe de Tour de France commissioned notable Italian pop painter/sculptor, Mario Schifano, to re-design the Tour's official jerseys. The jerseys were manufactured by Castelli of Italy. This is the complete set of the five official jerseys used in the 1989 Tour de France, which were: Yellow, King of the Mountains, Green, Red and Combination. (There was no white jersey, for best young rider, awarded in the 1989 Tour.)
 
These are rare jerseys, and a complete set is extremely hard, if not impossible, to find.  As of today Feb -2013 I own 4 of these jersey. The best complete rider or "The Combination Jersey" ( 2nd one from the right ) still eludes me.
 
 


Yellow - Overall Classification
Greg Lemond won the "Maillot Jaune" this year in what many consider the greatest Tour ever, when he beat Laurent Fignon by 8 seconds in the final stage.

 
Map of the World
 
 


King of the Mountains
Dutchman Gert Jan Theunisse from the PDM team won this jersey, the "Maillot a Pois," in 1989. This is my favorite of all jerseys.
 
 
 
Schifano designed this with 4 different Tour de France Mtn profiles..wish I knew which ones
 
To this day Theunisse is the last person to win the fabled Alpe d'Huez while wearing the Maillot a Pois - I would pay someone handsomely for this jersey with the PDM logos.
 
 
 
 
GREEN - POINTS
Irishman Sean Kelly, the great sprinter and classics rider, won the "Maillot Vert" jersey this year - one of five Green jerseys he won during his career. I've don't have the jersey as pictured below...mine has the PDM logo on both front and back.
 
 
Artwork is of a racer bursting thru the middle of a sprint to take the win.
 
Red - Intermediate Sprints
Dutchman Steven Rooks from PDM (who won the KoM in 1988) won the "Maillot Rouge" this year. This was the last year in which the Red jersey was awarded. I just got this jersey in today which is also whay I am proudly creating this blog.
 
 
Wheels on Fire! Burning Rubber!
 
 
And this is the only jersey that still eludes me...I'll be chasing this one till the day I die.
 
Combination - Best Combined Score
Along with the Green "Points" jersey, Irishman Sean Kelly won this jersey as well. 1989 was the last year for this jersey. Together with the red jersey, it was eliminated as part of a simplification plan instituted by the Societe de Tour de France.
 
 
Hope you like these images and a lil bit of Tour de France history. If you have any of these jerseys and want to part with them please contact me..as they would be apprieciated and cared for, in my hands.
 
Like to also thank Ray Dobbins for most of these images.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Companion Flowers

     I've been reading a bunch this winter about how bees work. Did you know that pollinating bees communicate to each other when they return to the hive. By both sound and vibrtions these bees communicate to each other where the stashes of good pollen are. Other that humans, bees appear to be the only once capable of relaying directions to one another.
      So with that, I been looking into what flowers are attractants to the pollinating bees. My buddy Jeff in NH works as an Estate Gardner for someone, and his job is to plant and care for flowers all summer in case the peoiple who own the property decide to leave Manhattan for a weekend getaway. So I've been brainstorming with him and also got some hand-me-down seeds to try. 

 Spring Flowers
 
 
Nasturtium
I got those flower bags that you fill with dirt and hand for these. Besides being totally edible this plant wards off the Squash Bug. Those lil suckers burow into the vine and drink all the nutrients intended for the vine. So I am hanging about 3 flower bags around my Squash trellis to fill with these nasturtium. Hopefully with great sucess.
 
 
Borage - "Star Flower" - repels Tomato Hornworms

 
Yellow Tansy - "Golden Buttons"

 
Nigella-Damascena "Love in a Mist"

 
Purple Tansy - "Scorpionweed"

 
and the beautiful Scabiosa - "Black Night"