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Monday, October 27, 2014

Planning and preparing rows for Vegetables.

I laid out my first row - that I will use to plant the vegetables.  This is the corral that is no longer being used as there are no animals on the farm.   The rows will be 50 feet long and 4 feet wide which is the width of the plastic mulch I will be using.   I will leave 3 feet between rows.   The third picture shows how wide the corral is and I estimate I will be have room for 13 rows that are 4 feet wide and 50 feet long.      I have to purchase a truck load of compost to till into the soil as the soil is hard and looks likes it has a lot of clay.

Planting Update - Buttercrunch lettuce, bergams green leaf lettuce, and cheddar cauliflower

I planted two types of lettuce today.   The first is buttercrunch which is a nice firm loose head lettuces.  The leaves are very flavorful form a heart of heavily ribbed tender leaves.  

The next type of lettuce is Bergams Green Leaf lettuce.   This plant produces a excellent leaf lettuce that form uniform heads.  Great for sandwiches and add to other lettuces and greens to make a great salad.

Finally - a variety of cauliflower that I am excited to grow.   This variety form orange heads instead of the traditional white and the color darkens as you cook it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Planting Bearded Iris - Loop The Loop

I planted another variety of bearded iris today.  I received 100 rhizomes, but only was able to plant 42 before I ran out of space on that row.  I will have to prepare another row over the next couple days.  They are size 2 or 3 rhizomes which means they are small and probably will not bloom next year.   I may have some for sale next fall - depending on how fast they grow.  It doesn't freeze here in southern california so they have winter to grow.
Here is a stock picture of this variety in bloom.  The petals and falls are bright white that are edged in a very nice bluish purple.

Planting Leucojum aestivum - Summer snowflakes, or Snowbells.

I planted some Leucojum Aestivum.   They are commonly known as summer snowflakes, snow bells, or dewdrop.  The bulbs look somewhat like paperwhite bulbs.    They are planted in the fall and will bloom early spring.   They are planted 2 inches deep and 3 inches apart.   I built raised bed rows to plant them as I water from the pond and bulbs do better when they drain.  If it would have been flat, they would be flooded whenever I water and will rot.  This way the water runs between the furrows and mostly waters the root zone, keeping the bulb drier.   I heavily amended the soil with compost and added some bonemeal so the soil drains better.

Here are some pictures of the bulbs, planted bulbs waiting to be covered up.

Planting Beaded Iris - Concertina

I planted some more bearded iris today.  This variety is called Concertina.  It has light pink petals with a light purple throat  I will have this variety for sale next fall.

Here is a stock picture of this iris in bloom.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Seedlings in the Sun!

I have quite a few trays of seedling started.   As soon as most of them are sprouted,  I move them from the light stands to the outside sun.  This gives them a good start.  They tend to get too tall and leggy if you leave then under grow lights too long and will topple over later and usually die.

Here is a row of trays with started vegetables.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Planting Ranunculus! Apple Blossom Mix

I planted some ranunculus the other day.  The variety was apple blossom mix which appears to be dark pink, light pink, and white.  Should be a colorful display.   When you receive ranunculus or purchase them at a store, you may think they are dead.   Don't worry, they are not.  Soak them for 3-4 hours in fresh water to plump up the fingers.   They will look like a bunch of bananas after they have soaked up water and re-hydrated.     Plant them in well drained soil, 2 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart.  I planted mine in raised furrows after amending the soil with compost and bone meal.  

Here is a picture of the ranunculus before hydrating and after I soaked them for a hour.  They would have gotten fatter if I would have soaked them longer.    They will continue to plump up after I plant them.   The first picture is what the blossoms will look like.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Planting Update - Champion Collard Greens and Northern Lights Mix Swiss Chard

I planted some Champion Collard Greens today -  They will be ready in about 75 days and produce short stems with thick leaves.

The second variety I planted is Northern Lights Mix Swiss Chard.   It will be ready in 60 days and is a nice mix of Snow white, magenta, gold, and deep red swiss chard leaves.  The stalks are very broad, fleshy, and tender.    Swiss chard is very nutritious and high in fiber.

Iris Planting - Blue Icing Bearded Iris

I planted 100 blue icing bearded irises this morning.  The weather is getting cooler and more typical of fall finally.   The rhizomes are size 2 and 3 which are small, about the size a finger.   They probably won't bloom for a year but that's fine as I am growing them out to re-sell some of them.

I prepared the bed - adding about 1/3rd compost and some bone meal.  They will be there for a year or longer - so the extra effort in adding compost is well worth it.   They are also in raised beds as the pond water will run between the rows to water them.

Here is a picture of the prepared bed.

Here are all the iris rhizomes ready to be planted

Here is the bed planted - I planted two rows in the hill - side by side

Here is a picture of  blue icing in full bloom

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Planting Update - Blues Cabbage and Multikeeper Cabbage

I planted two kinds of Cabbage today.    

The first variety is Blues Cabbage which is a Napa type cabbage.  The 10" tall heads have a fresh green color, bright white ribs and grow with vigor.   This one will be ready is 55-60 days.

The second type is a short term storage green cabbage with medium size green heads.  This variety is a multi-disease resistant.   Great for sauerkraut or fresh cabbage.   This one is ready in 85-90 days. 

Bearded Iris Planting Update - Batik

I received a shipment of bearded iris rhizomes holland  They are small size 2 or 3 size rhizomes which is fine with me.  They may not bloom the first year, but I am only interested in them getting larger and at this size, I got them for a good price which means I can sell them later for a better price.

The first variety is Batik - which is a great purple and white striped variety that is very popular and has been around for quite a few years.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Seedling - Out in the Sun

Some of my seedlings are big enough to go out into the sun.  As soon as they are all sprouted, I place them out in the full sun.   That way they don't get leggy under the grow lights and will be shorter with a stronger stem and will grow better.  It also means I won't have to harden them off before transplanting.    They are trays of cabbage, broccoli and brussells sprouts.   It looks like my germination was very good for most of the varieties.

They are about 2-3 days old and there aren't any true leaves coming yet.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Planting Update - Lettuce and Onions

I am still busy planting.  A couple trays are sprouted enough to put outside in the full sun.   I prefer to get them under the sun as soon as possible so they will become hardened at a very young age.  I find that I have sturdier plants that way.   I am lucky enough to be able to do this in Southern California where they days are 70-80 and nights 50-60.  Perfect weather for most seedlings.  As I am taking trays outside, I need to replace it with another tray of seeds, because I only have room for 12 trays in my light stand.

I planted Red Marble Cippolini onion.  They are a small flat red onion that has a mild flavor.   The red color goes deep into the rings. They will be mature in 75 days.

Here's a photo of the harvested onions.

I also planted some head lettuce that will be ready to harvest in 70 days.

The variety is Fall Green MTO
This is supposed to do well in the winter desert conditions and I am in the low desert of southern california.  Hopefully it does well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Planting Update

I planted some Peppermint swiss chard.  Its the only swiss chard with two colors on its stems.  The tops are pure white with reddish pink streaks going down the stalk to the base.
The seeds look like beet seeds - so they must in a similar family.

This is what the full grown plant looks like

I also planted some Tall Utah 52/70 celery.   This a tall green celery that does well in all environments, but it needs to mature in cooler weather such as fall in colder parts of the country or winter time in the warmer southern parts of the county.

The grow light stand is now full with 12 trays of seeds.  Some of the varieties are starting to sprout after 3 days.   The fast germination is due to the propagation mats that was the soil to 72 -75 degrees with speeds up the germination.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Germination Update

I planted Blue Savoy Cabbage 2 days ago and was surprised to see some seedlings.    Germination warming pads are wonderful.    Here are a couple pictures of some of the seedlings.   There should be more breaking through the soil over the next couple days.  

Planting Update - China Gold Chinese Cabbage and Riverside Sweet Spanish Onion.

I planted a couple more trays tonight.

I planted China Gold Chinese Cabbage.  This is a tall barrel shaped cabbage with tight yellow interiors with a mild flavor.   I should have mature heads in about 65 days.

Here is a stock picture of a mature head.

I also planted some storage onions.  They are onions that will keep in a cool dry place for 2-3 months.  The variety is Riverside Sweet Spanish.  Its a mild white onion.   I should have decent size onions in 119 days.    I will be planting them at my farm and also selling seedling of both of these at my plant sale around the first week of December

Here's what the Sweet Spanish onions look like mature.

Monday, October 13, 2014

More Seeds Planted!

I have planted some more varieties of vegetables.   I will take pictures of them sprouting and also - when they get their true leaves for those of you who are interested in growing them and want to see what they look like.  I will also mention the number of days to germinate - with germination heat pads set at 73 degrees.  

Here is a picture of the plant stand full of trays - 8 trays of 128 plugs each - so a total of 1024.

Here is what I planted today and seedlings will be available for sale at my plant sale around the 2nd week of December.

Full Heart Escarole

Gypsy Broccoli

Thunderhead Cabbage

Red Defender Storage Onion

and Jade Cross Brussels Sprouts

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Additional Planting - Endive and Blue Savoy Cabbage

I planted some endive - salad king variety. Endive is a member of the chicory family and has a crisp texture, and sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness.   I also planted Blue savoy cabbage which forms nice heads and has very wrinkled leaves with great flavor.
I will be selling started seedlings at my plant sale and also growing them on my farm for sale as produce.
Here are some stock pictures of the mature crops

Salad King Endive

Savoy Blue Cabbage

Seed Starting!

For those of you in the northern part of the country - especially my home state of South Dakota, you would wonder,  why in the world would he be starting seeds.     Here in wonderful Southern California, you can grow all year long.  BUT you have to stick to winter crops that love the cooler weather for planting this time of year.  
I planted my first tray of many tonight.  Spent the first part of the evening cleaning and disinfecting all my plug trays and germination trays and cleaning the cobwebs of my light stand.  
You have to disinfect the trays with some water and little bit of bleach to kill any diseases.  I didn't do this one year and only sprayed them off and over half my seedlings died shortly after sprouting.  It was most likely caused by damping off which kills the seedlings almost overnight.  

I planted Fall Towers Romaine Lettuce.   The seed is pelleted, which mean that the seeds are coated in a clay ball, making it easier to handle.   I always try to use pelleted seeds whenever possible as my 50 year old eyes cannot see small seeds anymore and I usually miss some parts of the plug tray or put too much seed down.      When planting lettuce with pelleted seeds - you need to cover the pellet - to keep it moist or it will drip up locking the seed in a hard clay pellet and i will not germinate.  But if you cover too much, it won't have enough energy to break through the surface.  
I will keep you posted on the progress as this is the first time I have grown pelleted lettuce seed.

Here is a stock picture of Fall towers romaine lettuce growing in the field.

Here is a picture of the seed packet and also a picture of the pelleted seeds in my hand.  They are very easy to handle at this size.

A picture of the plug tray empty,  then filled with starting mix and one seed in each plug.

Finally - under the grow lights and on top of a germination heat mat.   The heat mat is set for 70 degrees.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Grapefruit Picking Party

We had a grapefruit picking party today.   There are 2-3 years worth of fruit on the grapefruit on the trees which is hard on tree so it needs to be picked asap.     I am going to start growing vegetables and some may go to the Riverside Food Cooperative which is a group of consumers interested in buying locally grown produce.   Some directors and members of the COOP contacted me about donating some of the grapefruit to some local charities and food banks.   Along with their help, we picked a bunch today for donation.      Their website is if your in the inland empire and want to join.
Here are some of the pictures:   We stopped at 12:30 - as it was getting very warm.  Supposed to be in the 90's today

Jorge in the tree - getting the harder to reach grapefruit - in flip flops.

Nick M - the secretary of the COOP - working up a sweat.

Duane, Jorge and Maune chatting and working

The "fruits of our labor!

Jorge and Maune