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Gardening

Gardening: Low-Maintenance Lettuce Garden

One of my goals for this year is to make a low-maintenance lettuce growing system for harvesting fresh lettuce everyday. I have tried indoor and outdoor gardening methods and I still keep trying for more improvements. So far, my lettuce garden system settled down to this format in the picture below.

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  1. Planters filled with neutral gravel
    • can prevent snail and slug
  2. Red party cups for lettuce
    • Made holes at bottom of the cups for roots to grow through the gravel
  3. Moisture control soil potting mix by Miracle-Gro
  4. Place them under shadow – avoid burning from the Sunshine
  5. Pour water from the bottom of the planters
    • take a break if it rains

This allows us to harvest lettuce every morning to make sandwiches for lunch and salad. Good thing is it is always fresh. No need to get them from grocery stores any more.  Instead of hydroponics which requires grow lights and some cleaning sometimes, this is vert efficient with minimum efforts except the first time when I built this system 🙂 Hydroponic systems cost more than this system.

Gardening

Gardening: Strawberry Pollination

Strawberry is a seed plant. To produce berries out of strawberry flowers, we need to pollinate strawberries. There are mainly three ways to do pollination.

1. Insects like bees can carry pollen (outside in spring time)

2. Wind can shake strawberry flowers for pollination (outside or indoor by fan)

3. Touch pistils with cotton sticks or fingers (outside or indoor)

Since it is still before last frost date here in Oregon and I still keep strawberries indoor, today I used a cotton stick to pollinate strawberries. We need try to get pollen from stamens with the cotton stick and then touch pistil. In general, we need to cover the whole pistil area evenly to grow nice berries. Otherwise, berries could become strange shape. The worst case is it turns into brown color, which means that the flower failed to get pollinated.

strawberry_pollination

If pollination is successful, the pistil remains green and it will become a green berry and graduatelly turn red and big. Then, time to taste our own organic strawberries 🙂

Gardening

Gardening: Asparagas First Stem

Today, one asparagas stem popped up after started with roots on 1/28/2017.  Now it is becoming green.

Usually, for the first year after plant asparagas roots, a few stems are only supposed to pop up. We can start collecting a handful number of asparagus from second or third year. They will grow for 10 to 15 years.

This tells that spring is coming soon 🙂 I am interested how this first stem grows.

first_asparagus_stem

Gardening

Gardening: 2017 Feb Veggie Shelf

After two months, my winter gardening is getting under good control by using indoor garage and a heavy duty rack with LED lights. I think I stil need to improve more like keep control of temperature, add thermal foil insulation, and better efficiency.

Garage gardening during winter definately keeps vegetables away from frost. Frost caused big damage to my crops in January. Once roots and stems got damaged by frost, it is extremely hard to recover even for strong crops like green onion.

Currently it takes quite efforts to make recycled planters. Also, vegetables grow slowly because of low temperature. I am still learning fertilizer, soil and hydroponics. I am experimenting soil vs hydroponics. Let’s see what is the best solution for winter harvesting.

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The above picture is my Veggie Rack inside garage. I attached two LED lights now for more light intensity to 1st and 3rd shelves. The LED light coverage is too wide, so I need to narrow it towards the crops. Germination doesn’t require light, so they can be at the bottom. The right picture shows the winter green leaves progress like Chinese Cabbage, Bok Choy, Lettuce. Spinach started growing better now, so I moved them up to the 3rd shelf from 4th shelf. There is still a lot of space left for new crops. Feeling excited now at end of weekend 🙂

Gardening

Gardening: Garage Harvesting

After a few winter indoor gardening trials and trying to scale up, I needed a bigger space but I still want to do indoor gardening because of cold winter season and easy maintenance. So, I started creating DIY garage gardening system. Here is the first week.

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Here are a couple of tips that I learned so far.

1 Get a heavy duty garage rack with wheels and adjustable shelves.

Shelves with layers of metal lines will help air flow and distribute light from the top. Mobile racks help move crops very easily.

2 Get a couple of garage LED lights

4 feet LED lights fit very well to the rack.

3 Install garage LED lights at every other layer

For the first couple of weeks after germination, the closer the light source is to crops, the faster and stronger the crops will be.

4 Move crops around as they grow.


Future plans

1 Get warm mats – want to control temperature better for high yield germination and grow stronger stems (winter harvesting causes leggy vegetables.)

2 Get more LED lights – for other unused shelves

3 Start microgreen – want more green for daily food

Gardening

Gardening: Asparagus

Asparagus is productive for 10 years, so it meets my reproductive gardening. However, growing aspragus can be very time consuming if you start from seeds. It takes two to three years for seeds to grow to produce nice stems.  So, I started from roots this year.

Started on 1/22/2017

First stem show up on 2/20/2017

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If we grow under light, stems will be green, so called green asparagus. Without light, stems will be white, so they will be white asparagus.

Since this is very slow progress, I will just enjoy watching it every month. Some stems are expected to grow up in Spring.

Cooking, Gardening

Gardening: Bok choy

Bok choy is similar to Chinese (napa) cabbage. This can be good vegetables for wanton noodle and winter hot pot. Just like Chinese cabbage, bok choy can grow in water and soil.

For small doses, because bok choy contains glucosinolates, it helps prevent cancer. However, big doses of bok choy can be toxic.

Let’s start growing bok choy.

  1. Cut one inch from the bottom

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2. Put them in water

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3. Change water every day

4. After a week, transplant into soil

5. Keep growing