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Old 09-19-2011, 09:26 PM   #181
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You can keep seeds for multiple years...I often use them for 3 or 4 years after they are packaged. I just sprouted some beet seeds from 2008 and 2009 this week. The germination rate drops over the years, so I just plant more seeds.

I just planted beets, spinach, chard, sprouting broccoli and will plant carrots tomorrow. I'm a little late with my winter garden, but the tomatoes and zucchini are still producing so I didn't want to pull them out yet. I have 4 raised beds; 4x8 which actually hold quite a bit.
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Old 09-20-2011, 04:04 PM   #182
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Yes, larger seeds will keep for several years. I have used bean and pea seeds up to 3 years after the date stamped on the package.

Most of what I'm doing here is experimenting with containers and how long I can cheat the cold season (upstate NY near Syracuse) by using my porch up until the snow flies in early December. The porch is screened with clear plexiglas custom made panels. It is just like having a hothouse, with natural air flow and a ceiling fan to supplement the flow on calm days.
My recent fall plantings will get plenty of bright light even when the sun is overhead, and plenty of sunlight at other times of day. The roof is narrow enough that shadows are cast inside the porch except at midday.
Everything is on wheels, so I can move the containers outside for a natural rain soak or some sun on an Indian summer day.
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Old 09-20-2011, 05:46 PM   #183
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I hope your experiment pays off. Winter gardening brings a little brightness in my opinion.

All the seeds I planted this year are from 2008 and 2009, so the smaller seeds do quite well being stored for years also. I already have beets, chard, spinach and lettuce sprouted with multiple seeds...just planted the carrots this morning so I will have to see how well those seeds do.

I wish my tomatoes were done so I can pull the plants out and plant something else in their beds. I'm getting impatient and want the entire garden planted now.
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:19 PM   #184
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What thrives and survives in the porch is a crap shoot.

There is nothing like several pots of geraniums blooming in the middle of January when the snow is up to our eyeballs. I always keep the geraniums in my southern facing front window. Some of my geraniums are now 4 years old. I cut them back severely every fall, fertilize them with Osmocote, and let them do their thing. They never disappoint.

To winter over my still growing container herbs, I will be designing and assembling an open multiple shelf growing unit for my spare bedroom.
The prices for commercial shelf growing systems crack me up.
All I need is the fluorescent shop lights (on hand), full spectrum grow lights (need to order new ones), an inexpensive shelf unit, a timer and multi-plug power strip (both on hand), some light duty chain and S hooks (on hand), a roll of HD aluminum foil, and some floor space.
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Old 10-08-2011, 05:24 PM   #185
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I found my inexpensive shelf unit on sale

Amazon.com: Four Tier Greenhouse with 4 Shelves: Patio, Lawn & Garden

It should be here next week, along with fresh spinach and scallion seeds.
I decided to splurge and bought these grow lights at a lower price ($9 less each) than shown here.
Amazon.com: Hydrofarm JSV4 4-Foot Jump Start T5 Grow Light System: Home & Garden
I already own one of these lights, and decided to get 3 more to make each shelf of the unit fully illuminated.

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Old 10-08-2011, 05:28 PM   #186
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Quote:
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I found my inexpensive shelf unit on sale

Amazon.com: Four Tier Greenhouse with 4 Shelves: Patio, Lawn & Garden

It should be here next week, along with fresh spinach and scallion seeds.
I decided to splurge and bought these grow lights at a lower price ($9 less each) than shown here.
Amazon.com: Hydrofarm JSV4 4-Foot Jump Start T5 Grow Light System: Home & Garden
I already own one of these lights, and decided to get 3 more to make each shelf of the unit fully illuminated.

Sweet! I may not do this this year...but hopefully next! We just took down our tomato plant but I planted my fall crops in mid-August, and they are doing great. Yummy red and green leaf lettuce is flourishing. My broccoli and brussel sprouts are coming along nicely but no fruits yet...soon I'm sure!
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Old 10-08-2011, 06:13 PM   #187
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Sweet! I may not do this this year...but hopefully next! We just took down our tomato plant but I planted my fall crops in mid-August, and they are doing great. Yummy red and green leaf lettuce is flourishing. My broccoli and brussel sprouts are coming along nicely but no fruits yet...soon I'm sure!
Watch out for these little buggers on your broccoli.
Identifying and Controlling Cabbage Worms

BTDT when I used to grow broccoli in my back yard garden. A quick dip and vigorous turning (use tongs) of the broccoli head in some hot salted water will get them off the broccoli head, evidenced by them floating on the water surface. Sound yummy ?

I've tried lettuce in containers before with some success. I got tired of washing, drying and storing it in the frig. I prefer spinach for salads, and can freeze any I don't use in a given harvest.
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Old 10-09-2011, 09:32 AM   #188
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Watch out for these little buggers on your broccoli.
Identifying and Controlling Cabbage Worms

BTDT when I used to grow broccoli in my back yard garden. A quick dip and vigorous turning (use tongs) of the broccoli head in some hot salted water will get them off the broccoli head, evidenced by them floating on the water surface. Sound yummy ?

I've tried lettuce in containers before with some success. I got tired of washing, drying and storing it in the frig. I prefer spinach for salads, and can freeze any I don't use in a given harvest.
Thank you SO much for the heads up on that! I will be looking under the leaves for eggs now! I have BT so I will spray with that if I see them. My arsenal for bug control is getting better!

We only pick lettuce as we need it, so minimal storage in the fridge. DH can eat a ton of it, so it hasn't been going to waste yet. Next year plan to add spinach, as DH really likes it, too.
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Old 10-10-2011, 12:18 AM   #189
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FYI, you don't need expensive lights to grow plants. I use standard 4' shop lights and buy the cheapest tubes. They work just fine, there is no need to spend money on tubes designed for growing plants.

Good to see the BT comment, nuff said on that.

The season is just about over all I have is tatsoi, cabbage, chard, broccoli, lettuce, 4 hot pepper plants to get the last ones to ripen and 2 pole bean plants that I'm using for seed production. I took out everything last week in advance of 2 nights of frost.

I hope to get 4 yards of alpaca manure in a week, till it in, plant the garlic and take a break until April. I'll be starting seeds in late January but nothing goes out until early April.
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Old 10-10-2011, 12:20 PM   #190
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By all means, you can use standard shop lights for cost effectiveness.

I have 2 cheapo 4' shop lights that are unreliable (ballast?) after owning and using them for seedlings for 15+ years. I get nervous handling those 4' fluorescent bulbs, always afraid I will drop them. I will continue to use the shop lights and shelves already in place for my over-wintering geraniums, plus whatever I plant in my 10 gal aquarium.

I selected the T5 model to fit the shelf unit I got dirt cheap. My indoor growing station will fit nicely in front of a southern window without overtaking the floor space of a very small room.
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Old 10-10-2011, 01:49 PM   #191
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Cut my Geraniums back and put the pots in a row waiting for the first frost warning
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Old 10-10-2011, 02:43 PM   #192
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Cut my Geraniums back and put the pots in a row waiting for the first frost warning
I just brought mine indoors to continue growing for me all winter, under a 4' shop light. I sprinkled a thin layer of Osmocote pellets in each pot.
After they go through another bloom, I cut them way back again and keep them under grow lights. I repeat this all winter.
Nice to have fresh flowers appear during the gloom of winter.
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Old 10-10-2011, 06:57 PM   #193
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I just brought mine indoors to continue growing for me all winter, under a 4' shop light. I sprinkled a thin layer of Osmocote pellets in each pot.
After they go through another bloom, I cut them way back again and keep them under grow lights. I repeat this all winter.
Nice to have fresh flowers appear during the gloom of winter.
I keep mine in an east window with a long shelf where the window ledge should be. They keep blooming but get a bit straggly without a light. Also cut back about January and March. I fertilise with liquid 20-20-20 when watering once a month. May try a light.
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Old 10-10-2011, 09:33 PM   #194
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I have 2 cheapo 4' shop lights that are unreliable (ballast?) after owning and using them for seedlings for 15+ years.

I selected the T5 model to fit the shelf unit I got dirt cheap.
15 years! I've had them go bad after 5 years. You are correct it is probably the ballast.

T5 tubes? They must be really small in diameter? I was surprised at the difference in the T12 to T8 tubes. I happen to have an older T12 over the work bench all my grow lights are T8.
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Old 10-11-2011, 03:59 PM   #195
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15 years! I've had them go bad after 5 years. You are correct it is probably the ballast.

T5 tubes? They must be really small in diameter? I was surprised at the difference in the T12 to T8 tubes. I happen to have an older T12 over the work bench all my grow lights are T8.
The light is an AgroBrite T5, 24" length. Diameter is 0.6" by my measurement. Small but excellent output.

http://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-BUAB...8366883&sr=1-1

The standard shop light over my geraniums (shown in a previous post) is the last survivor of the two 15+ year old 4' shop lights. Only 1 bulb lights now, so this may be the last time it is used.
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Old 10-24-2011, 04:13 PM   #196
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I keep mine in an east window with a long shelf where the window ledge should be. They keep blooming but get a bit straggly without a light. Also cut back about January and March. I fertilise with liquid 20-20-20 when watering once a month. May try a light.
Two weeks later...my geraniums are setting flower buds like crazy. I counted 10 so far. I will move one of them out into the living room where I can see it until it stops blooming. Then it gets cut back and back under the grow light.
Why pay for cut flowers to brighten up a room in gloomy weather when I can grow my own ?
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Old 11-18-2011, 10:45 AM   #197
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My indoor growing setup, all assembled and planted.
The footprint of the shelf unit is 2'3" W x 1'7" L, and 5' H.

I transplanted garlic (for the tops), relocated summer grown oregano and basil, put some trailing orange flower (variety?) clippings in water, and planted Roma tomatoes, parsley and spinach (just emerged). I brought one of my Earthboxes inside for the tomatoes. The folding pea fence (left side of 1st pic) will support the tomatoes as they grow.

The 10 gal aquarium hosts green onions (scallions) from the grocery store and new seedlings just emerging.

I may try one cucumber plant in the Earthbox and let it grow up the side of the shelf unit or the pea fence. It will get plenty of natural sunlight in the southern window plus light from the grow lights.

Note the contrasting backdrop of snow outside the window.
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File Type: jpg downsized_1118011124.jpg (41.5 KB, 2 views)
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Old 11-18-2011, 11:12 AM   #198
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My indoor growing setup, all assembled and planted.
Sweet - very nice set up! Curious to see how your tomatoes do inside!
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Garden still going strong in mid November!
Old 11-18-2011, 11:24 AM   #199
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Garden still going strong in mid November!

We harvested yummy, yummy broccoli a few weeks ago (bigger than what is in the pic), and now we are starting to get some smaller side shoots. And, our lettuce, basil, and pepper plants are still going strong, despite several frosts (we cover them at night). Brussel sprouts are continuing to grow, but slowly. A friend of mine who lives here said her lettuce grows all winter long, despite the frosts (she doesn't cover it). Can't wait to see how long we can keep this little garden going!
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File Type: jpg Fall Garden pics October 002.jpg (535.7 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg Fall Garden pics 001.jpg (606.5 KB, 2 views)
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Old 11-18-2011, 12:06 PM   #200
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Sweet - very nice set up! Curious to see how your tomatoes do inside!
Thanks.
The shelf unit is not very sturdy, so I am using the Earthbox to offset some slight leaning. The bottom shelf (no grow light) is being used to store my watering can and tote bag holding seeds, markers, garden scissors and small hand tools. I put a large pot full of dirt on the bottom shelf to provide some counterweight support. It is a bit top heavy.

I think the only challenge will be pollination. With the absence of insects, a friend suggested putting a small fan near them when the flowers open to let wind power do the w*rk. Or even a feather or small paintbrush to use as a manual pollinator tool.

I'll do some research at the Cornell University site to see what they recommend for manually pollinating fruiting veggies.

Any suggestions "from the floor" are welcome.
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