Notes from my Summer Indoor and Outdoor Gardens

I have not written for a while because I was having some trouble with my outdoor and indoor gardens. Things that only time will teach you for sure. I read a good deal about FL gardening online, but nothing really teaches you like experience.

Pretty much all of June was rain. So the plants grew well, but they did not produce much. My theory, the rains would come during the day when the pollinators should be out. The rainy conditions also made conditions too difficult for proper fertilization and production.

Once the rains finally let up, I had great growth for a little bit. But, the temperatures also began to climb. I had read that the plants have a hard time with fertility and fruiting when the temperatures get into the 90s. This seemed to have proven true for this garden.

By the end of July, my eggplant and tomatoes outside got spider mites and those have proven difficult to control. My squash and cucumbers were taken over and demolished by Melon Moths.

Take a ways:
– Too much rain is terrible and leads to low production
– Too hot and a lot of plants will not produce
– It is unbelievably hard to control Melon Moth in the hot part of summer (starting to cool down and they are not as big of a problem).
– While your pepper plants will not produce during the hot month, if they can make it through the hot months, they will start to produce again in the fall when temps go down. Mine did get infested with whitefly though during the hot months. My peppers had a really really tough time with sun scorch. Almost 100% of the peppers that I got had some sun scorch damage
– I cut back my eggplant to get ride of the spider mite damage, the plants have come back as the temps drop. Seems like the mites are coming back though.

 

Indoor garden

My indoor garden has been fun, and I have learned a lot. I have rearranged it many times, and finally, think I have a pretty good setup going.
– Observations:
– I have a few pepper plants that look great, but they are VERY small for their age.
– Also, I think it takes longer for the peppers to ripen inside. Currently taking notes on that.
– My tomatillo has grown well, but its companion plant died while I was on a trip. I have read I need two plants so they can cross-pollinate. Since my tomatillo is blooming, I am a little bummed.
– Beans and peas do excellent inside, but the beans are susceptible to spider mites (They have proven to be hard to get rid of but are easier to control inside)
– Basil, kale, and cilantro do well inside.
– Cucumbers will also grow inside, but you need to have them in a really easy to access location to hand pollinate the plant.

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Current set up of my Indoor Garden

I am working on a way to make the set up of my indoor garden look nice. We do not have a basement or spare bedroom to put the garden in, so it is in the downstair room that is right next to the front door. It has big french doors that are easier to just leave open than close them. Small room and a tight fit with the furniture! It is also my painting studio, so it can get cluttered with paints and canvases! Such a hard room to keep looking organized!

I have taken over a corner of the room for the plants. Since, this is something people can see, I want it to look nice and interesting. I have not yet truly achieved this. I have been putting the garden together piece-meal as I did not want to sink a ton of money into this project unless I thought it would eventually pay off. I do find myself wanting to buy a lot of fun stuff for this! So-trying-to-hold-back!

I have some string lining part of the wall for the plants to grow up. I think I will change this out later for fishing line. I think it would be really pretty but also a useful to design this like a living wall. I could then, hide some of the plants behind the couch, and they could grow up the walls. I think that is more of a future plan than one to tackle right now. Currently, I am just going to do a living wall in the corner. The cucumbers and winter squash are currently growing up the strings. The winter squash is doing great and is getting some height. The cucumber is getting bigger, but it is taking its sweet time getting any height on it. Had I known the peas would get so tall, I would have planted those differently. The tomato cage looks ugly, but the plants out grew their support. I have taken note for the future!

I am stacking the plants, so they stay close to the lights. That also allows some over lap in the lighting. I had them a bit more spread out, and I don’t think they did as well. In addition, I have lined the wall behind the plants with tinfoil. Oh yes, classy! But, it serves its purpose of reflecting the light back to the plants! I hope the plants grow up enough to hide this! All of this limits the design of the garden a bit!

I can’t wait to get my seed starts and propagated plants transplanted into nicer looking pots. I think that will help a lot. I also have some nasturtium seeds in the ugly plastic bin. I am hoping they will over flow the side and cover but the unsightly look.

Soil gnats and Springtail (small little gray bugs that seem to jump when disturbed) have been a bit of a problem. I have tried to soil gnats are bad for your plants, so I have worried about controlling them more. Springtails, apparently, are not bad for your plants but are a nascence. I have little yellow sticky traps on the tinfoil. Those catch a good number of pests. Letting the soil dry out a bit does too, but you have to be careful to not kill your plants in the process. I try to water super close to the roots to concentrate the water. I also notice that the gnats fly up to a lamp I have on in the room at night. The light seems to zap them! Gross but glad they are killed! I have also thought about adding a soil powered bug zapper that looks like a cute lantern to the garden to help control the pest without having to spray! I have not pulled the trigger but that might be a future purchase if this goes well! Things like apple cider vinegar traps did not work well for me.

 

Peas Indoors!!

I noticed yesterday (7/31) my peas are finally blooming, and there are some small peas already forming! Yay! I am so excited! I am also surprised by how large the peas plants are! They have grown to the top of the tomato cage I put around them after they out grew the wooden supports I had in the pot.

I am going to have to move the grow light as I had it resting on the top of the tomato cage. This could be odd as moving it up will take it farther away from the rest of the plants below. Figuring out this indoor system will be interesting. I have a few spot lights I am using to fill in the lower areas of the garden.

Indoor Peas!!!

7/22

My indoor pea plants are getting huge! They are over a foot and a half tall. I am really interested in seeing how tall they get. I would have thought they were reaching their max by now. They have not started to produce flowers yet, but I think it has to be soon. They grew inches in a day! They must be over 6 weeks old by now. I have on my calendar that they will need about another month before harvest.

This is the most successful I have ever been with peas. Generally, I have done them outside. They seem like such delicate plants!

 

Planting – Spring/Summer 2017

I planted my garden in my garage. It gave me a bit of space to set up and keep my supplies. During this first planting, I planted 6 peppers, 3 tomatoes, a few herbs (cilantro and pineapple sage), marigolds, a summer/zucchini squash hybrid, cucumber, and a strawberry. About 2 weeks later, I planted some potatoes.

First, I filled the pots up half way and then put in some tomato fertilizer. I am not a fan of measuring, so I eyeballed about the amount the directions said. Then I filled the soil up again until I got to about the level I wanted to plant my plants. I did use pretty big pots as I wanted to get a few plants in each. I put 3 peppers in one with a marigold in a 16-inch pot. Later, I stuck a few older garlic cloves in the ground around the plants. In another pot, I did the same thing 3 peppers, marigold, and garlic. The tomatoes I did the same way – 3 plants, garlic and a marigold in a 16-inch pot. The cucumber is in its own pot a smaller one – about 14 inches not a self-watering pot but does have a tray. The squash is in its own smaller 10-inch terracotta pot. The cilantro and pineapple sage are together in a pot small old 8 or so inch terracotta. When I took the strawberry out of its packaging, it did not look very hopeful. It was a plastic package without too much branding. But the plant was supposed to be good to go when planted. It went into an old 10-inch terracotta pot. None of the terracotta pots are self-watering. In the end, I used quite a few bags of potting mix.

I took hay and spread the hay around all the plants to help prevent water evaporation but also to create a barrier between the soil and the plants.

I watered each one of these plants in really well and then continued to do a bit of watering every day to every other day for the first could of days as the plants established themselves. After a week and a half, I backed off the watering. I figured the plants were fairly well established and now they needed to get sturdy! So I let them get a little dry before watering so they would establish a better root system. I also did not stake them at this point. I had read somewhere that letting the breeze push them around helps the plants toughen up a bit, so you will end up with a more substantial stem. In a few weeks, I’ll look at stalks and cage the plants!

A little bit after this, I planted my potatoes. I am not sure about my planting method. I did not want to spend more on more pots, so I ordered some big burlap sacks from Amazon. I lined them with hay and filled them with dirt. They are about halfway full so I folded the edges of the sacks over to create more of a proper container. I do worry that too much light will get through this and some of the potatoes will be green. :/ Just have to see!

Some of these have done really well, and others have not. In this blog, I will keep track of the issues I have, and what I have done. This will cover both my successes and failures!

**I left for vacation a few days after this! My neighbor said he would just keep an eye out for any big problems.