Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gardening Time Again

Now that I have moved into a bit nicer and roomier place with a larger backyard, I have decided to get into gardening.  I have grown a few plants, and unfortunately watched them die before their time.  Lessons have been learned though, and books have been read, videos watched, and I am ready to give it another go.

At the moment I have a spider plant, an ivy, and a peanut plant growing in my backyard.  There are also a few weeds I have let grow because they aren't that hard on the eyes, and provide some shelter to the insects that I will eventually need to introduce to my garden.  My mother has been very supportive by giving me plants, pots, and seeds to play around with.  I bought some organic potting mix, lime, and organic fertilizer, and a City Pickers growing container as well.

I have six different varieties of seeds that I have planned on planting this year.  All of them seem to require full sun to partial shade, and my backyard gets that for the most part.  There is a brick wall and a few trees that will block the sun a bit.  Most likely the plants will get between 6-9 hours of sun each day at least.

Below is a list of the plants I am planting:

Common Name Species Size & Hrs Light
Sweet Basil Ocimum basilicum 18W x 30H 6-8
Curled Parsley Petroselinum cripum 18W x 18H 4-6
Cilantro Coriandrum sativum 10W x 24H 4-6
Chives Cebollin 12W x 18H 4-6
Daisy May Queen Chrysanthemum leucanthemum 24"W x 36"H
Sunflower dwarf Helianthus annuus 36"H 

The herbs should be planted about 1/4" deep in the soil, while the daisies shouldn't be under any soil, and the sunflowers should be 2" deep in the soil.  At the moment they are all in small clay or paper pots, and I am waiting for them to germinate.  It has been about three days since I planted them.  It may take a couple weeks for the seeds to begin visibly growing.

I have been watering them once a day, but after some research today I discovered it is much easier to use a seed starting system with an enclosed hood.  Some people recommend using heat pads and grow lights as well, and as a result I am considering dropping more cash into this hobby.  My ultimate goal is to get good enough to grow my own food from my backyard.  

In regards to the grow lights, I read this:
Target absorption wavelengths for efficient Photosynthesis (chlorophyll A & B) in is around the 600-700nm(red) and 400-500nm(Blue) anything outside of these bands are typically of little use for green plants.
 HQRP makes a LED grow light built to these specs:
After using this lamp to grow seedlings I can attest that it works, but it is best that seedlings get regular sunlight instead.  I place them in a seedling container and set them on the ground near sprinklers when possible.

Gardner's Supply also make a seed starting product that is self contained, and easy to adapt to different seed types.,default,pd.html

Using both of these products will increase the odds of seeds germinating, and also increase their speed at growing once they do develop roots.

Another bit of information that is important to gather is the growing zone I am in.  This will help me to determine what information applies to me and my zone, and which does not.  Often you will read a blog or article on a gardening site that recommends a growing technique, or a particular schedule to plant in, and then at the end of the article mention that it was advice for people growing in a zone of the country that has completely different temperatures and soil.  According to the USDA I am in a more temperate part of the country.  The zip code look up indicated: Zone 10a : 30 to 35 (F)

On I was advised on planting the below vegetables this spring:
basil, beans, beets, carrots, chives, cilantro, corn, cucumber, dill, egg plant, green bunching onions, lettuce, onion, parsley, parsnip, peas, peppers, radish, spinach, strawberries, squash, sunflower, swiss chard, tomatoes, thyme

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