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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Soil Mixes Experimenting (Part 1)

Ok, so I have finally came up with my soil mixes that I will be experimenting with. I have also bought the seeds that I will be using in the experiments. I will be using Tomato Costoluto Genovese by Thompson & Morgan. I got them from Gales Garden Center, and choose these particular tomatoes mainly because they had a lot of seeds in the package (450 seeds), they were also pretty cheap ($2.69 -20% discount). This tomato is a beefsteak with a cool ribbed look to it. 450 seeds should hopefully be enough for me to experiment with, hopefully :) For each soil mix I will be planting 10 seeds in each, that should be enough for me to get some accurate results.

So now you know what the seeds are, and here are the seeds starting mixes. Most of the mixes I got from a good site with Potting Mixes for Certified Organic Production (site by ATTRA) on this page not only do they have many, many organic soil mixes but they also describe the ingredients used in all of them, good info.

Seed Starting Mix #1 This mix is a very simple mix that I have wanted to try myself for a while

2 parts Peat moss
1 part Vermiculite

Seed Starting Mix (+Fertilizer) #2
This mix will actually be the same as mix #1 except I would like to experiment with fertilizing these seedlings soon after they have sprouted. Normally I do not fertilize seedlings till after they have been transplanted if I am going to do so. But since I am experimenting I will be trying things that I don't normally do, why not, right? I am not exactly sure what I will be fertilizing with yet, but will figure it out soon.

2 part Peat moss
1 part Vermiculite
Fertilize after sprouting

Seed Starting Mix #3
This one I found on the ATTRA site linked above (Titled- Sowing Mix).

5 parts compost
4 parts soil
1-2 parts sand
1-2 parts leaf mold
1 part peat moss

Above is the exact mix recipe from the website, I may end up altering it when I mix it, will see.

Seed Starting Mix (+Fertilizer) #4
The next recipe will also be for the ATTRA site (Titled- Tipi Produce Recipe).

2 parts Sphagnum peat moss
1 part coarse vermiculite
1 part coarse perlite

+fertilizing mixture of:
3 parts steamed bone meal
2 parts kelp meal
2 parts blood meal
1-2 parts dolomitic limestone

The original recipe called for larger portions but I cut them down since I will not need to mix such large quantities for experimenting.

Seed Starting Mix #5
Not sure what this mix is going to be yet, most likely I will just use one of the above mixes (maybe mix #1 or #4) and try fertilizing the seedlings with another fertilizer mix that I come up with.

I almost forgot I will be starting some in the normal store bought mix that I normally start my seeds in, so that will be Seed Starting Mix #6.

So those are my mixes. I will be starting the seeds probably some time this week or next weekend. I have to get my regular seeds started first and I also must get the mixes ready and I also plan to do soil tests on all the mixes first before planting.

I can not wait to actually get started with the planting and start to see some results, it should be interesting.

Just thought I would give a little info on the different ingredients that my mixes will consist of.

Peat Moss
Description- comes from (bet you couldn't guess) the sphagnum moss plant
pH- Acid
Nutrients- does not contain any itself, but will absorb them very well
Benefit- light weight, can hold water well if not allowed to completely dry out
Other Info- Some love peat moss and others hate it, I am kind of in between. If allowed to completely dry out it can be extremely hard to get wet again evenly. On the other hand if it is kept wet it can be better for a potted plant than regular soil (texture wise).

Description- A mineral similar in appearance to mica
pH- near neutral
Nutrients- contains calcium, magnesium and potassium
Benefit- aids in air circulation
Other Info- It is very light weight, if the soil you are planting in is heavy or more compact adding vermiculite can allow the soil to breathe. All plants need some are circulation, and if you have a problem with that, vermiculite may be just what you need to help.

Description- Decomposed leaves, grass, plants, vegetables, the list goes on and on
Nutrients- A very nutrient rich source
Benefit- A lot depends on what is in your mixture, but compost is one of the best nutrient providing substances that you can add to a soil mixture.
Other Info-

Description- Regular topsoil
Nutrients- May also be a nutrient rich source (a lot depends on the quality of the top soil)
Other Info- Some say and believe that regular soil is not good for potting mixes because it tends to become to compact and not allow optimal air circulation, of coarse I am determined to find out how true that is. I myself want to believe that regular soil can be a good part of a potting mix if mixed correctly along with other ingredients, we will see. I could be wrong or I could be right.

Description- coarse sand is best, fine sand can become to compact for plant to grow
pH- neutral
Nutrients- Does not hold water very well, thus nutrients tend to drain through along with the water
Benefit- Drains very easily, also warms up very quickly (just think of how hot a sandy beach can be on you bare feet)
Other Info- Sand can be good and have benefits, just not all by itself

Leaf Mold
Description- Decomposed leaves
pH- on the acid side
Nutrients- calcium and magnesium
Benefit- Increases moisture in the soil
Other Info-

Description- A volcanic rock
pH- neutral
Nutrients- Potassium
Benefit- aids in air circulation and improve water drainage, also will hold 3 to 4 times its weight in water without causing potting mix to become overly wet
Other Info- When heated perlite expands to as much as twenty times is original size, and becomes very light and kind of puffy, much different from its original rock form

For Fertilizers:

Bone Meal
Description- crushed and ground bones
pH- alkaline
Nutrients- phosphorus, calcium
Release Rate- Very slow, coarse grade will last longer than fine grade will
Benefit- Promotes good root growth (which makes them good for root crops such as carrots and onions) and is also good for plants that form tubers and bulbs.

Kelp Meal
Description- Dried and ground seaweed
pH- neutral
Nutrients- potassium, and good source of many micronutrients as well
Release Rate- slow
Benefit- Aids in seed germination, contributes to good plant and root growth, and can aid in control against plant diseases

Blood Meal
Description- dried powdered blood
pH- may raise the acid level in soil
Nutrients- one of the best sources of nitrogen
Release Rate- slow
Benefit- Use to add nitrogen to soil

Description-(also known as Lime)
pH- will lower acid level in soil (more alkaline)
Nutrients- calcium and magnesium
Release Rate-
Benefit- (Wood ashes and eggshells could also be used instead of lime)

In doing research on the above components of my soil mixes I also learned that both vermiculite and perlite can be used alone by themselves to help start root cuttings. Sounds like a good experiment for the future, doesn't it? Starting plants from cuttings using different methods. Ok, sorry, one thing at a time, right? But it is something to keep in mind for the future :)

When I was searching around on the web I also ran across this tread on the Garden Web, What is a substitute for Seaweed or Kelp Meal? I thought it contained some good info and thought it was worth mentioning, and may also provoke some more good experiments in the future.


Just in case you would like some more useful info on the subject, here are some more good sites with lots of info on fertilizers, soil amendments, and soil mix ingredients:

Contains charts for what to use for what problems
Organic Fertilizer and Soil Amendment Guide

Here is a link to the ATTRA site again, but this page is a list of soil amendments
ATTRA- Alternative Soil Amendments

More soil mix recipes
Potting Soil Recipes from Backyardgardener.com


Well I think that is enough for now, wow what a long post. Now I have to get to work with planting my seeds. I know, still have not done that yet, really need to get that done. Off to work.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vegetable Varieties 2010

~Green Globe (1st time growing artichokes so I am not sure how it will go.) (Green variety)

~Chinese Red Noodle Yard Long (Red yard long beans) (keep their red color when cooked, best when cooked as in stir fry rather than boiled)
~Blue Lake (Regular green variety)
~Rattlesnake (Green with red stripes)
~Purple Podded (Purple variety) (change to green when cooked, acts as a timer for when they are done being cooked)
~Dragon Tongue (Yellow with purple stripes)

~Broccoli Raab
~Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli (kind of like the broccoli raab (small) but purple)
~Windsor Broccoli (Regular green variety) (is suppose to be very heat tolerant)

~Red Acre (red variety)
~(Cone shaped variety)

~Purple of Sicily (Purple variety)
~Cheddar (Yellow variety) ~Possibly a common white variety

~Dragon (Purple variety)
~White Satin (White/Light yellow variety)
~Amarillo (Yellow variety)
~Tendersweet (Common orange variety)


~Zwolsche Krul (Stem Celery) (Thinner that regular celery, with a stronger taste, will be sold in bunches)

~Red Stem Celery (Common celery with red stems)

~Also a common green variety

~We will be growing the same variety of bi-color sweet corn as we did last year
~We will also be trying a new white sweet corn variety (will only be growing a small amount since it will be the first time trying this variety)

~Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber (very, very tiny cute little cucumbers that I will be using for in salad mixes)

~Blush (Long white with
~Black Champion (Long purple)
~Thai Green (Long green)
~Lao Green Stripe and Lao Purple Stripe (Tiny round eggplant)
~Mix of four different varieties

~For bunches: Red Russian Kale, Dinosaur Kale, Collards, Swiss Chard (many colors), and a mix of 4 or 5 Mustard Greens
~There are so many other different kinds of greens we plan to grow, some spicy for salad mixes others to be sold as a bunch

~We have plans add a whole new section for all of our herbs. Hopefully we will have a very large selection of herbs available to be sold in bunches. We will also be selling all the different kinds of basils we had available last year plus some new exciting varieties. At some point I will post a list of all the different kinds of herbs we plan to sell with descriptions.

~Early White Vienna (Common green variety)
~Early Purple Vienna (Purple variety)

~Licolyn Leeks (Used for baby leeks, ready to pull early)
~I will also be growing a couple of regular common leek varieties

~I have many different kinds of lettuce seeds, I probably will not be able to plant them all at one time, but I can tell you one thing, I should have a very good selection available

~I think I over did it when it came to ordering okra. I may have ordered more varieties than I should have. We will see how many I get to plant come spring, all of them would be nice :)
~Eagle Pass Okra (A green and red fat variety)
~Pitre's Short Bush Red Cowhorn Okra (A skinnier longer green and red variety)
~Burmese Okra (Green variety)
~Cow Horn Okra (Green variety)
~Red Burgundy Okra (Red variety)
~Milsap White Okra (White variety)

~Hamburg Rooted Parsley

~Golden Sweet Snow Pea (Yellow sweet snow pea)
~I will be growing a normal green variety also to go along with the yellow peas

~Bianca Bell Peppers (Yellow variety)
~Islander Bell Pepper (Purple variety)
~Purple Beauty Bell Pepper (Purple variety)
~Chocolate Beauty Bell Pepper (Green maturing to chocolate variety)
~Gourmet Bell Pepper (Green maturing to orange variety)
~King of the North Bell Pepper (Green maturing to red variety)
~Alma Paprika Pepper (Yellow maturing to red sweet/mild paprika pepper, small round bell variety)
~Feher Ozon Paprika Pepper (Yellow maturing to orange sweet paprika pepper, long variety)
~Shishito Pepper (Green sweet/mild Japanese pepper)
~Jimmy Nardello Italian Pepper (Long skinny green to red, looks like a cayenne but without the heat)
~Sweet Banana Pepper (Long yellow sweet pepper)
~(Green sweet pepper, same kind we had last year)
~Red Ruffled Sweet Pepper (Round ruffled look, green to red)

~I do not think we will be selling any pumpkins this year for market but we will be growing some to be used for baking (pies, breads, etc.)

~French Breakfast (sold last year, long white and red variety)
~Shunkyo Semi-Long Specialty Radish (long red variety)
~Easter Egg Radishes (Small round, mix of beautiful colors)
~Saxa2 (very quick to mature red variety, (18days))
~Crimson Giant (very large red variety)
~Rat Tail Radish (excited about this one, it is actually the seed pod that is edible, does not actually form underground)

~Will be growing some shallots this year for the first time, will be a common variety

Summer Squash
~Common green zucchini variety
~Bush Baby Zucchini (Small striped variety)
~Magda Zucchini (Similar size and shape to Bush Baby but with light green color)
~Green Patty Pan Squash
~Bennings Green Tint Scallop/Patty Pan Squash

~IsIs Candy Cherry Tomato (red, yellow striped cherry)
~Black Cherry Tomato (Purple cherry)
~Dr. Carolyn Cherry Tomato (Yellow cherry)
~White Current Tomato (Smaller yellow cherry)
~Sungold Cherry Tomato (Orange cherry)
~Aunt Ruby's German Cherry (Green cherry)
~Pearly Pink Cherry Tomato(Pink cherry)
~Mr. Stripey (Yellow, red, orange striped slicing tomato)
~Black Prince Tomato (Purple slicing variety)
~Cherokee Purple Tomato (Purple slicing variety)
~Amish Paste Tomato (Red paste)
~Opalka Tomato (Red paste)
~Wapsipinicon Peach Tomato (Fuzzy like a peach, yellow cherry)
~Yellow and Red Pear Tomato (Cherry sized, pear shaped)
~Japanese Black Trifele Tomato (Purple and shaped like a bosc pear, will be sold mixed with yellow and red pear)
~Striped Cavern (Red, yellow striped stuffing tomato)
~Reisetomate Tomato (Is like a bunch of red cherry tomatoes fused together, that pull apart easily)
~I will be growing a red cherry tomato as well just not sure which one yet I have a few different kinds that I can grow.
~I also have a couple of other striped tomatoes that are slightly larger than a cherry tomato but I am not sure if I am going to have the room for them, will have to wait and see.

~Common variety

I think that is everything, hopefully I did not miss anything.

Once I get the website done this list will be there also, plus I plan to have pictures of the vegetables we have already grown and when the season begins I will take pictures of the new varieties and add them also.

Planting inside will begin this weekend, I probably should have already started, but come on do you really expect, me, to be right on schedule? As long as I start planting things this weekend I will not be to late, just not early.