Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Growing Things

This is what happens when you don't check the zucchini plants the day after a heavy rain (that's a 12" ruler!). Zucchini get bland with tough seeds at this size—not much fun to eat. So I hope to make zucchini bread out of these:


Two more pics for scale:



I enjoy the presence of green things growing in the house. L. to R. . . .

finished wheatgrass

inch-high wheat grass

germinated mesclun mix (from Johnny's Selected Seeds, contains the following lettuces: tango, red salad bowl, parris island, royal oak, dark lollo rossa, deer tongue, sweet valentine, and firecracker)

new tray of just planted mesclun mix (from Cook's Garden, contains chervil, endive, selvatica arugula, lolla rossa lettuce, royal oak leaf lettuce, red salad bowl lettuce, frisee galia arugula, deer tongue lettuce, rocket arugula, slaad bowl lettuce, black seeded simpson lettuce)

The germinated mesclun needs to be thinned, but I'll probably let it grow as-is to experiment. I made 1/4" deep trenches in the soil with a knife blade, dropped in the seeds, covered the trenches with sand, then misted with a sprayer until they germinated.





What happens when you don't turn the compost often enough. I'm not sure what these plants are yet:



  1. So, are you going to harvest the lettuce from the trays or will you transplant? I love seeing that wheat grass growing again. I like the idea of using sand to cover the lettuce seeds instead of soil. What led you to do that? Does it prevent damp-off? Is it easier for seeds to germinate through? It can't hold moisture as well...
    Looks great,

  2. My goal in using the trays is (ultimately) to grow greens indoors during the winter -- or year 'round out of the trays instead of transplanting outdoors.

    I've been noodling on an idea for using that large metal rolling shelf system -- six shelves on wheels, four trays per shelf = 24 trays of salad/other greens. Since it's on wheels I could keep it in the garage at night, roll it outside to sit in the sun during the day, and roll it back into the garage at night for protection from the freezing nights.

    Even if I don't do that, growing the trays indoors would be a nice way to keep salad greens coming during the winter -- or anytime. There are so may unique Asian/other greens that I see in catalogs that I'd love to grow for salads, so having lots of small trays of a variety would be nice. 'Course, the mesclun mix packs accomplish that goal as well.

    I used sand to cover the seeds because the soil in the trays is pretty "rough" -- chunks of wood fiber, etc. -- didn't want tiny lettuce seeds to get "stuck" under something. The sand is much easier to break through. Since I'm misting to keep it moist a couple of times a day, no danger of it drying out. The seeds in the first tray germinated well within a couple days; we'll see how the second tray does.

  3. what kind of seed starting mix do you use? Do you mix it yourself or buy it in bags? Where did you get the trays?

  4. Jen,

    Starting mix: Right now I'm using a mix of organic potting soil, some "rougher" potting soil I've had for a while and am using up, and peat moss. I buy organic potting soil (excellent) from 7 Springs in 40# bags. I mix 80 percent potting soil and 20 percent peat moss, and even a little sand.

    Fertilizer: If I was starting seeds for transplants, I wouldn't worry too much about building fertilizer into the potting mix since I'd be transplanting the starts out of the trays. But since I'm going to leave the lettuce in the trays for permanent growing I mixed up a fertilizer mix of all the usual products: kelp, alfalfa, azomite, greensand, rock phosphate, calcium, etc. I then mixed a "scoop" of this into a five gallon bucket of the potting soil and mix it well, then put the whole mix into the trays. (I don't have accurate measurements on any of this -- sort of touchy-feely.)

    Trays: The black trays I'm using are wheatgrass trays. They're available lots of places online, but I think I bought mine here:
    The important thing to know about these trays is to use them in sets of two. They are sold with drain holes and without, so you have to buy a pack of five (about $8-9) of both kinds. You put the potting soil mix into the tray with holes, then set that tray into a tray without holes. That lets the top tray drain into the bottom tray.

    That's the setup I've used for years with wheatgrass and was what I had on hand so decided to use it for the lettuce.

    Hope that helps!