Monday, March 11, 2013

Cabbages & Caterpillars (and a watermelon)

The cabbages growing in buckets are doing quite well now - the leaves have toughened and it seems fewer or non catterpillars are being laid upon them. Some leaves are almost complete (somethings nibbled the tips though - perhaps grass hoppers?)

This after going through them each day and picking off a number of caterpillars from the plants - they like to hide under the leaves when they are small. Having the plants in buckets helped because this would have been a strain to do repeatedly if they were ground level. But at bucket level they are much easier to clear (or you could even put the bucket on top of something else!)

Also the watermelon out the front has started to fruit! I slipped a piece of cardboard under it to help keep it dry. I wonder if I'll actually get a melon from it? I'm anticipating some idiot passing by will spot any fruit just before I harvest and decide to stamp on it, because of what inflicts their minds. Still, if it leaves behind some viable seeds, that's a good result.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The tomatoes I trasfered into the ground - well, some were lost to heat. But now I seem to be about to lose some to hammering rain? A few look limp and unhappy after the sky bucketed down and washed away some of the top soil around their roots.

Meanwhile I'll see how the potato buckets go - I've had to tip over some of the more shallow buckets to drain, then just left them that way with more rain on the way. The ones with large plants I've left for now (will probably tip to drain tomorrow) as the plants tend to drink up some of the water.

Anyway, with the rains coming this is a big test for the bucket system!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Potato buckets are going fairly okay. Harvested from a couple more and as usual the potatoes cluster around one layer. With a couple of buckets where I planted the potato low, it's grown higher than the bucket now, so I've topped it up with soil. Though leaves half covered with soil died off, the plant seems to be keeping on. So hopefully it grows potatoes at a number of levels, ala the idea behind hilling potatoes when grown the traditional way in the ground.

Also with the summer sun here burning the lawn down, I've taken advantage of where I tore out some weeds to dig eight small holes, then transfered some tomato plants into them that I had been growing in the greenhouse. Often when I transfer, I don't make the hole deep enough and the tomato plant sits on a mound, both not having it's roots very deep and also the mound washes away with watering, exposing it's roots. This time I am avoiding that and hoping to take advantage of what is a very dry lawn at the moment.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Carrot tops amongst the lawn grass?

With shorn mown grass burnt by the sun, I've taken a section of front lawn and spread some heirloom carrot seeds around upon it as well as watering a few times. I don't use chemicals on my lawn, so I'm curious about growing a few carrots in that area. So this is an experiment.

However watering it seems to have activated some of the annoying deep rooted weeds I thought I'd removed from it. Perhaps by seed or remaining root stems, they are shooting up. It's annoying as I thought I'd cleared them all and was congratulating myself on that progress.

Can't find the name of the weed. It has a thick root, with leaves that come out in a circle around that and flat with the earth. When it flowers, it sends stems out from the center with little ovoid heads on them that have little white stems extending from their middle, with small white blobs on the ends.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Old swamped out bucket not such a great yield

I went through a bucket with a dead potato plant. It was one of the originals I'd started and I'd had some swamping problems with it, so I'd cut a hole in it's side about an inch from the bottom.

Not much of a result in the end - one medium potato (nice looking) and one tiny potato that was already sprouting. I wonder if becoming a relatively dry bucket (because of the drainage hole) contributed to that? The soil looked and felt nice, though - that seems a thing with this set up, it takes the kind of rough leaf litter and sandy soil and seems to make a nicer mix out of it. And also I have one more potato than I did before.

Anyway, put the soil back in the end and planted the sprouter in a small pit I made at the top, so I could hill in around it as it gets taller. Assuming hilling works.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Further P Bucket Experimentation

Gah, I think I over watered one bucket that had a nice patch of shoots coming out. The leaves went all wilty and then died back alot.

So I tilt it over to drain what I can.

Days latter it still seems wilty and dying back - so I press my finger at the side of the bucket to the bottom to feel if any water is down there. It's completely dry!

So I give it a little bit of water, just on that side I checked.

Now the shoot looks even less happy.

Meanwhile the other buckets shoot is bursting up at hyper speed!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The match stick trick worked out nicely - one potato shoots leaves are almost double what they were before! Perhaps because there's some organic fertiliser in there with it.

Though I looked at the chart and technically it's not the time to put in potatoes in these parts, that's supposed to have ended last month. But...still going to do at least three more buckets. But also try to grow carrots and beetroot in them. Got alot of carrot seeds from plants that went to seed, including a heirloom that I must keep marked separately.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Low fill experiment working out well!

You can just see the green shoots
So after shoots have been scorched off by extra nitrogen from bought compost soil or perhaps sudden exposure to the sun, I brought them in and then they seemed to send up new green shoots. Putting them out again they seem to be leaping up a few millimeters in just a day. It's at this point you could put a spent matchstick into the ground with it's tip level to a leaf, to get an idea of how much they grow over time. It's too easy to get no sense of progress because the progress is small and hard to tell (ones memory simply doesn't record the old height ver well!).

Anyway, grow quick so I can get on with the next step of the hilling test!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Interim stuff

Obviously growing plants for food involves alot of interim stuff. The plants do their growing thing, taking about four months from shoot to actual edible produce. And of course the potato plants are shedding all the sun scorched leaves.

Currently setting up new buckets, with the potato very low in the bucket and only a little soil, letting the shoot from the potato show. Also I had stripped off all other shoots but one (storing them in the fridge for now for latter separate planting) and let the potato dry it's wounds over night. Having just one shoot is supposed to help, as they don't compete with each other.

Anyway, All the harvests so far have had the growth of potatoes at about the level the thing was planted at, not much deeper, not much higher. Hopefully the advice about hilling potato plants is true so once the shoots have grown up, I will add more soil (still leaving the top most leaves exposed) and hopefully the covered stem will start sending out tuber shoots as well. That or I'll find out hilling was just a myth.

Currently some of the plants have made tubers right near the surface, so they have become green. Which is annoying as they were quite nicely sized potatoes. I guess those ones will become the next seed potatoes!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

So how do potato buckets stand to hot weather and a week of no watering?

Was away for awhile and could only top up the buckets with water as a scorcher loomed and they'd have to spend over a week without any more help from me. Did fairly well in the end, I think if plants returning to some green leaves amongst the burn is any indication. The tall corn plant growing from one bucket really recovered nicely - must be the sort of plant that's used to that sort of cycle.

One particular plant seems pretty badly burned though. Or perhaps it's more nitrogen burning - it's in a bucket with a lot of grass - the plant seems to be dying from the base upwards.