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My most disappointing spring

Posted by slowpoke_gardener 6/7 (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 6, 13 at 9:02

I have had a rough time with my plants this year. Part of it is because I am having to hold the plants inside much longer because of my pup tent greenhouse has worn out. The long unstable winter/spring, and experimenting with new potting mixes.

The plants shown were planted on 2-29 and have not been feed. Ithink they are needing some blue water. I think anyone trying to start plants in this part or the country needs some type protected area outside to harden your plants in.

I will continue placing these plants on the south side of the house during the day for atleast another week, but I am afraid to plant in the garden because of my cold microclimate.

Larry

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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My most disappointing spring

Larry,

I understand how you feel. Some springs are just this way. Hopefully the cold will pack up and move on after next week's cold spell that will take parts of OK (and maybe your area too?) down into the 30s yet again.

I agree with you that everyone who raises their own seedlings in this part of the country needs a sheltered spot in which to harden off seedlings in our windy springs. For me, that spot has changed over the years.

Our first couple of years here, it was easy to use the wraparound porch that is on the east and south sides of the house. Eventually, though, the trees and shrubs got big enough to shade the porch so I started using the screened-in porch on the west side of the house. It wasn't ideal, but I could put plants out in the afternoons instead of in the mornings and they'd get plenty of sun.

After we built the barn-style detached garage in 2004, I could harden off plants on any side of it, using it as a big wind block. That worked well, but it did involve moving a lot of flats around daily to put them on whichever side would block the wind the best.

In the mid- to late-2000s we started having all the persistent droughts and I was often away in spring at wildfires and my plants suffered greatly because I wasn't home at the right times to move the plants indoors or onto the porch when they'd had enough sun and wind. So, we built the hoophouse-style greenhouse primarily as an unheated place for me to keep the seedlings in spring. I just love it. I can cut off the air flow by closing some of the doors and 4 vents (there is one big door at either end of the greenhouse and two window-sized vents at either end too), and I can get the plants more light or less light by placing them in parts of the greenhouse that have stronger sun at various times of the day. I do keep 50% Aluminet shadecloth on it year-round because otherwise, even with the vents open, it can hit 140 degrees on sunny winter days and there's no telling how hot it would get on summer days, but it is empty in summer so that's irrelevant. Still, I have to move the plants outs from the greenhouse for a few days to harden them off to full sun, but it is easy because by then they've been under the 50% shadecloth for weeks.

Today I moved every single flat of plants out of the greenhouse to spend about 2/3s of the day in the sun, but it sure is windy and I will watch them carefully. I put the flats beside the garage so it could block some of the wind, but I don't know I'll leave them out in the wind all day if it keeps blowing as hard as it is blowing right now.

I know that gardeners in every part of the country face various challenges and we certainly are not the only ones that have so many weather issues in spring, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier.

Dawn


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Larry, later today I'll post a pic of my tomatoes planted 2-25 so you will feel better. I think they might have two sets of leaves and your tomatoes look like they would swallow mine whole.


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Mia, I really can complain about the size of my tomatoes, altho I wish they were a little smaller because I dont have the room I would like to have. I think one area where I messed up was adding compost and composted manure to the potting mix. I got good growth and good germination but I had trouble adjusting the amount of water they needed. I have about a doz. Boxcar Willie that I started on 3-25 that look like they will be a better planting size, especially if I have to hold my plants as long as I am afraid I will.

Larry


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RE: My most disappointing spring

The bigger ones


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And the smaller, some of these are peppers.


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RE: My most disappointing spring

I am having a tough time here too. With the wind and heat this week I was unsure how to handle this but I think I am going to jump in and plant 10 outside and continue hardening the others. I am going to block the wind and afternoon sun and hope for the best.
I have over 80 but if I cant get them under better light they will go downhill fast. Some are already showing a little stress. They are about 24" and have outdone all my lights.
Kim

Sorry its sideways:/ this was taken 2 weeks ago


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Here it is


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Mia, my peppers are smaller also. It looks like you are running less wattage than I am also. I run (6)T8 per 4 flats, and they are almost never turned off. My wife and I dont see as well as we did when we were younger and we are afraid of stepping on our small dog, who also does not see or hear as well as when he was younger.

The tall thin tomatoes I lay in a shallow ditch with just the top end sticking up and they do fine. I always lay the stem on the left side within the row, (which is to the west in my south garden and to the south in my north garden) so I can remember not to cut the stem in to when digging or driving a stake.

Larry


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RE: My most disappointing spring?

luvncannin, those sure are large plants. I can see how the wind would sure kick them around.

The wind has been terrible here. I had to go out and build some kind of shelter. It looks really bad, but if it helps me this year, I hope to have something better next year.

Larry

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RE: My most disappointing spring

I waited till after noon today to put mine out on the south side of the greenhouse as the wind is mostly out of the north. With no shadecloth our greenhouse gets too hot as well, and even when it's not so terribly hot the humidity can make it feel pretty steamy.
I didn't plant many peppers at all and now am wondering if that was a mistake. I have seen so many pepper plants at WM and Lowes lately that look like they got too cold. Oh well, surely some new plants will show up in two weeks when I am ready to put them in the ground.


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Dorothy, does the greenhouse near you have peppers this year? I didn't even need pepper plants last year, but I had to buy a few from that greenhouse. They all grew well for me. I liked that little store.


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Larry,

My tomatoes are also bigger than I would prefer. I''ve got 163 planted but quite a few more waiting to be planted. I'm going to wait until after Tuesday since there is a significant chance for heavy thunderstorms and very large hail. If I get hailed out then these will be my backups. I'll post a picture.

I'll also post a picture of my redneck greenhouse made out of 16ft cattle panels. I have three together, anchored with rebar driven in the ground. I have heavy plastic sheeting draped over the cattle panels. The plants inside are pepper plants. I have not planted any yet. If you have space I would highly recommend this type of "greenhouse". It is cheap, but does the job. I think I bought the cattle panels for 22 dollars. I don't remember the cost of the rebar. We bought a roll of plastic sheeting and what is covering the greenhouse is probably about 30 dollars worth. We've used this type of greenhouse about three years. The plastic can be used about two years before you have to replace it. I cut three openings in the plastic in the top and two on each side. When it is cold we run an extension cord out to it and plug in one or two heaters.

I know it looks redneck, and is redneck, but it "gets er done" with very little money invested.


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Here's the inside.


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And here's my overgrown tomatoes needing to be planted.

In the picture are also several flats of squash waiting to be planted. There just now getting their true leaves. And a some eggplants.

All the buckets and other stuff around them is to provide a bit more protection from the wind.


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Up above I should have written that I bought the cattle panels for 22 dollars apiece. It read like I was saying I bought all three for 22 dollars. I wish...;-)


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RE: My most disappointing spring

And the smaller, some of these are peppers.


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Very nice plants everyone! I feel like I'm finally catching up with the pros here! While mine aren't as large as many of yours, they are stocky with short internodes, dark green, healthy foliage, and growing rapidly before my eyes practically.

What seems to be your most vigorous varieties? Of course the indeterminates seem to be outperforming all others, but a few of those outperform other indets.

Larry, I have an idea that you will end up with a typically Fantastic Larry garden yet!!

Susan


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RE: My most disappointing spring

My most vigorous are pretty much the same ones every year....J D's Special C-Tex and Gary O Sena, although there's a lot more that are not far behind those two. Riesentraube is always the smallest and slowest, but once it is in the ground it does just fine. I just think some varieties are slower to start than others. Indigo Rose starts slow but does fine once it is in the ground too, but I say that based on only two years of growing it...and the seeds are from the same packet, so a different packet of seed from a different source might perform differently.
Once they are outside hardening off and really start feeding off all that wonderful sunlight, the smaller ones begin to catch up with the larger ones pretty quickly.

Today while weeding I noticed both pepper and tomato volunteers popping up out of the ground, so that says something about how warm the soil is, doesn't it?

Except for the wind, the weather was perfect. If I wasn't moderately concerned about the severe weather in the forecast, I'd have been putting some kind of plants in the ground today. If they start backing off on the severe weather forecast, I'll plant on Monday or Tuesday anyhow if it isn't raining. Realistically speaking, at this time of year, we have hail in the forecast about every other time that it rains.

Dorothy, I've seen a lot of plants of all kinds that must have been left out in the garden centers uncovered on those cold nights. You'd think they'd take a few minutes to throw row cover over them. I've also seen more plants this year that weren't hardened off before they made it to the retail stores, and they have looked just awful.

Dawn


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Scott, thanks for posting the pictures. I like the idea. I need a place where I can piddle in the winter and I think I can use your idea and make a lean-to piddle room/greenhouse. I think I have about all the material here at the house. I think I have 4mill and 6 mill visqueen. What thickness did you use on yours? I think I have alum. screen and 1/2 hardware cloth, would you suggest reinforcing the top to keep hell from coming through, or should shade cloth be used for reinforcement?

Susan, thanks for the vote of confidence, but I think I have had more plant failure this year than ever. The sad thing about it is that I knew better.

Larry


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Larry,

The plastic sheeting I used was 6 mill.

I don't have anything between the cattle panels and the plastic for reinforcement. Last year once it got hot enough that I did not need it as a greenhouse I took the plastic off and grew cucumbers in containers inside the cattle panels (formerly the greenhouse. This was during the 100 degree weather. I put shade cloth on top of the panels initially until the plants were climbing aggressively. The cucumbers hung down from the sides and from the roof. I grew Orient Express on one side and Sweeter Yet on the other.

When I built this I drove two rebar into the ground on one side of one cattle panel. Then I bent the panel up until it was in the upside down "U" shape you see in the picture. Then I drove two rebar into the ground to hold it in place. I then used baling wire to secure the panel to the rebar. Then I did the next panel the same way right next to the first, using baling wire to secure the two panel together. Then the third panel the same way. Cut one piece of the plastic sheeting to cover the back of the structure, and another the front. Secure it with baling wire or string in multiple places. Then place the large long piece of sheeting on the structure and weigh the sides down with what ever you have handy. I used landscape timbers and logs. The end of the wires on the cattle panels will "grab" the plastic and hold it in place when you weigh down the sides. On the end where I wanted the entrance to be I slit an upside down T in the plastic for a door. Lastly, I used two cheap table cloths to hang on each side of the door, overlapping. They are secured with light rope over the cattle panel and table cloth ends, with weights hanging down the side to keep them in place. This makes a kind of double door.

If you have any questions feel free to ask. I know there are other who have built this type of redneck greenhouse and have posted pics and instructions on line. Theirs are probably a bit more sophisticated.

Good luck.


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Scott, I really like that hoop house. We've experimented with hoop houses made from electrical conduit. But I haven't shared about it, as I didn't want to "pontificate" on an unfinished, unproven experiment. Well, our hoop houses have been okay. But I like you're much better.

Larry, I too, used some rotted manure to mix in with potting soil. I then had the same moisture regulation problem, plus, some disease.

Don't know if anyone else has had this experience. But I believe my fluorescent lights actually killed a number of batches of tomato seedlings. They would come up, looking good. Then, instead of reaching for the sky, they'd double over, as if the light hurt them. I was busy and couldn't believe that the light would hurt them, so I left them there. Within days they withered and died. I recently started another batch. When they started bending over I moved them out onto our sun porch. Though much cooler there, they have grown and looked happy.

George
Tahlequah, OK


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Scott, Sophisticated? Who cares? I like your hoophouse just fine and it gets the job done. Isn't that what matters? Sometimes people fancy things up and make them sound more difficult or look more difficult than they have to be. There's nothing wrong with good ol' country/redneck methods. One thing I learned when we moved here is that necessity is the mother of invention and that we could "make do" with much less fancy stuff than the gardening magazines, books and websites would have you believe.

Larry, OK, so you knew better? Don't we all and yet I bet we all do things at times that we know we shouldn't do. That is just human nature. Look at it this way: at this point your 2013 gardening year can only get better, right?

Sometimes I think we are too hard on ourselves (and our gardens) and expect too much. Why not let 2013 be the year we try to forget all those words that add stress to our gardening lives like "could", "would", "should", "ought to", etc and just try to relax and enjoy our gardens more. After 2 incredibly difficult hot and dry years, let this be the year we drop some of these impossible expectations and just have fun and enjoy ourselves!

George, that is so unusual. Did you use new or different lights this year? Something must have changed? Different room, soil-less mix, etc. Of all the gardeners I know or ever have known, you are the absolute last one I'd expect would have seedling issues!

Dawn


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Larry
I was going to trench plant these tall plants too but couldn't remember if I am supposed to trim the leaves or not?

And how much would you leave sticking up if the plant is 20" to 30" tall with 10 to20 leaves?

Last year we bought plants at the store and I buried about half but those plants were only 6 " tall.
Kim


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Kim, I normally dont trench, but if I let a pant get too spindly and tall I always trench. I have never left the leaves on, but wish now that I had tried leaving some of the limbs on just to see if they would root. The trunk and limbs that get down in the mulch alwas root, so why would they not root if planted that way? One thing you will need to be careful of is the plants get stiffer when they get older, and you can break the top out. It you do break the top out of one, just stick it back into the dirt and keep it watered and it may root also. If you wanted plants for later you may want to take the limbs you dont need now and try to root them.

George, what type of bulbs are you using? I am using one kitchen and bath and one daylite in each fixture on the bottom shelf and 2 of whatever is the cheapest on the second shelf (I think Daylite). I have had some leaf burn, but only when the leaves touch the tubes. I run (3) 2 bulbT8 fixtures from walmart on each of my 2 shelves.

Larry


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Scott, love your hoophouse. My daughter's husband bent a couple panels like that this spring for peas and later cucs and beans and she asked me if they couldn't make a hoop greenhouse so she could raise winter greens next winter. (She won't need to raise her own transplants as I do that for her.) I am going to show her your pics and posts so she will know how easy it is. We built a greenhouse/storage shed that I thought was plenty big at the time (16x24) but now I'm thinking I would really like more room for winter carrots and beets, so I'm thinking hoop house as well.


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RE: My most disappointing spring

I've always heard this phrase - "don't SHOULD on yourself".

Susan


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Susan, I have never heard that phrase before, but I love it.

Here's one "should" for all of us to help our plants get through this week.

We all should be watching the forecast for very cold temperatures from midweek onward for a couple of days. I've seen some freezing temperatures and some near-freezing temperatures for some areas, and the mention of a wintery precipitation mix for others.

We should protect our plants from the cold, and....

We all should hope that the hail today, tomorrow or Wednesday that could be up to baseball-sized and perhaps accompanied by very strong winds stays away from our homes and our gardens as well as our families and our communities.

Any more weather shoulds that I forgot to mention for this week?

Oh, folks in SW OK especially should watch for fire weather issues tomorrow.

This must be spring: we have a chance of fire, a wintery mix, very strong winds, hail, tornadoes, rain....gloom, doom and muddy slop. Of course, there's some nice hot April weather this week too. We may be having all four seasons this week.

Dawn


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Scott, I like your hoophouse a lot. I wish we had space and we would build something like that.

If it makes anyone feel better, I'm a real newbie gardener and my biggest tomatoes are still way smaller than MiaOKC's little ones. I did tell my boyfriend we should get a grow light this year. After this, next year we will for sure!


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Carol, sorry I missed your post earlier. I haven't been up to see what is available at Baird's yet, but I will be going there for my peppers later. I'll let you know after I get up there.


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Larry, I used the closest I could get to day light strength. Can't recall the lumens. Yesterday it occurred to me that perhaps the problem might have been a combination of heat from our wood stove and heat from these bulbs. The wood stove is only about 10' away. Presently we aren't using the wood stove. But we did use it longer, this year, than we normally do. I might try an experiment and put a couple tomato plants back under the lights to see if they still behave as before.

George


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RE: My most disappointing spring

George, do you run a little fan on your plants? That will help with the heat issue.

Susan


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RE: My most disappointing spring

George, do you run a little fan on your plants? That will help with the heat issue.

Susan


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RE: My most disappointing spring

George, do you run a little fan on your plants? That will help with the heat issue.

Susan


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Hi new member here, but I've lurked for a while now. Here are some pictures of my two mini hoop houses. I built one last year and built another one this year. They're not pretty, but they work. I planted some tomatoes and peppers in them back on March 15.


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Here they were back during the last cold snap on March 25th. I had a small heater in one and heat lamp and work light in the other one. It was able to easily keep it between 55 and 65.


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Here's a picture from April 4th. Needless to say I've got the heat lamps and heaters back in there tonight.


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Welcome Engineer!!


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Engineer, welcome, its nice to have you here. I like your greenhouses. I also like the green background, is that rye or wheat?

Larry


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Engineer, Welcome. My garden looks a lot like yours tonight but with row cover and one tarp. I use electrical conduit to hold the covers, but since I have only planted cool weather things, I didn't stretch any greenhouse plastic this time. Tomorrow night and the next will probably be the coldest for me. The temps are bad enough, but the winds look horrible. We are still in the high 70's, but I am watching the approaching storm. Yikes. My tomatoes are not nearly as large as yours, and they are tucked safely inside under lights. I hope yours will be OK.


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I read the post and looked out the front door and thought, no way. Its cloudy, 81 degrees and the wind blowing like crazy. I then checked the computer and saw that the temps are to drop pretty fast all night. So went out and covered my potatoes with hay. I expect the next two nights may be the worst for me. I am more concerned about hail and high wind than anything right now.

Larry


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RE: My most disappointing spring

Carol, I didn't even put row cover over anything Tuesday night, but I will get row cover over some things before tonight If the rain and wind allow me to do so. I spent some time earlier this week mulching everything for some cold protection. The only warm-season plants I have in the ground are a handful of small marigold plants interplanted with the lettuce but it could get cold enough here Wed night to damage even cool-season plants.

Larry, I spent too much time fretting over the possibility of large hail and not enough time dreading the return of freezing temps. I don't even think the rain has arrived here yet. We still were in the 70s at bedtime last night but it had dropped to 43 degrees by 2 am. I hilled up potatoes yesterday.... 240 row feet of potatoes! I hoping the hilling up helps protect the taters from anything the weather throws at them.

Dawn


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Susan, I have not used a fan. That's a good idea. Thanks.

George


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You're welcome! The fan also helps to strengthen the stems and the plants overall.

Susan


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Dawn, 240' of hilling potatoes, you really earn your keep, dont you? I only have 45 ', but I did not start covering mine til about 10;00 PM last night. I have not check the garden this morning, but I would not be surprised is my hay is laying up in Carol' yard now.

Larry


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Larry, I could have used some hay, but I think the wind was from the wrong direction. Our temps took a big drop last night, but we didn't freeze. I thought I might throw some covers over my onions tonight, but we are still getting light rain. I am hoping it will end in a few minutes and I can cover the rest of the stuff. Some forecasts show us at 31 tonight and others show us staying above freezing again tonight. I don't have any warm season things planted so I don't have as much to worry about as some people do. I did plant a ton of onions and I hope I don't lose those. Only one row of my potatoes are above ground. We added a deep layer of leaves to the asparagus bed then covered it with a tarp, so I shouldn't lose much unless the forecast is off by a lot.

Dang, We just ran out and covered a few more things and it is super cold.


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