Thursday, May 7, 2009

Green vegetable update

After a few days of intermittent rain and gray skies, a clear afternoon presented a window of opportunity for me to get over to the Minton Stable Garden for the primary purpose of thinning out my lettuce and spinach some more. I only had a half hour--it's been a very busy week in other areas of my life--which was really more than enough time for that simple task but whenever I visit the MSG I have to factor in the social time. And when I arrived I encountered Terry, Joe, Jonathan, Ralph, Allan...but since I work from home in isolation, I welcomed it.
As far as thinning goes, I find it difficult to pull up plants that I had just recently nurtured. Apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way. I take the "playoffs" approach, returning to the garden several times throughout the growing period for elimination rounds when I feel that they are too crowded in. At this point, I thinned the lettuce (Forellenschluss Romaine) and spinach (Space), both started from Fedco seeds in late March, to the point where the plants are about two inches apart. I collected the small seedlings that I pulled and incorporated them into a salad I had with dinner last night. I should thin the plants growing in my backyard, which include the same varieties as well as Buttercrunch Lettuce, but I've been too busy to even look at the raised bed behind my garage.

Today I focused on the Fiesta broccoli seedlings that have been growing under lights since mid-March. The time to start hardening them off is now, really, but out of the fifteen plants I have, only about half of them are ready for it.
The rest of them, as you can see below, have issues. The seedlings on the left have become little Bonsai broccoli, not more than about three inches tall. I had started them in the organic growing medium, but these were not among the plants I had transplanted to larger pots with the non-organic growing medium containing fertilizer. I am in the process of making those changes now; we'll see what happens. As for the plants on the right, they started out just fine, but like pretty much all of the seedlings, the new stem growth became thinner and more spindly, and as a result the plants are not staying upright. I tried to find out why. Perhaps the fertilizer was too nitrogen-rich, which could lead to hollow stems. Or maybe it was the fact that from moving plants back and forth to the sink to soak them I had accidently disrupted the circuit of my grow lights, so only one out of the two lights was functioning. I noticed the problem and fixed it yesterday. The soil in some of the pots was low so I added some more to protect some of the roots that were starting to peek through.
I hope to plant out the stronger broccoli plants in my MSG plot in another week. Until then I'll put them outdoors on the porch for a few hours each day, increasing their exposure to natural light and elements.


Lenna said...

This is wonderful. I think it's great that more and more green is showing up in cities across the country! Very impressive.

Bryan Bunch said...

Your lettuce and spinach is looking better than mine--although the second batch of spinach looks further along than the first. Maybe its the variety (second was Bloomsdale Long Standing while first was Melody) but I suspect that I planted the Melody too soon. Speaking of which, I am counting on global warming. Although the last frost date here is May 20, the long-range forecasts encouraged me to plant a dozen tomatoes today, May 9. I'll let you know how it works out (I have other plants in reserve).

Dan said...

Your broccoli's look fine to me. Well they are young they are leggy looking at the best of times. Once you have them hardened off and planted out they bulk up really fast, within a week or two.

Allison said...

I've ruined many a potentially fine crop because I couldn't stand to thin out the seedlings! It is such a sad moment in the gardening season.

No mercy, this year, though. We. Will. Have. Big. Head. Of. Broccoli.