ECMP 355 · Learning Project

The Basics

Courtesy my father in law-Spring 2016
Courtesy of my father in law-Spring 2016

As I’m new in gardening, I had to start from the basics of the what’s and the how’s of growing the vegetables that I selected. I needed to know which seed needs which environment and temperature to grow. How many days seeds will take to sprout and when to take them out to sow outside.

Following is the tabulated information on all the vegetables that I gathered from internet, friends and family.

table

Jalapeno:

jalapenos1

Plant Jalapeno seeds indoor in pots or in a propagator about six weeks before the last expected frost. For many locations, this will be anywhere between January and March.

After two more weeks and after the last potential frost, you can move the jalapeno plants outside. Outdoor plants should get at least 6 full hours of sunlight each day. Jalapeno peppers grown in temperatures between 27 C to 32 C degrees yield maximum fruit.

Jalapeno plants do well with an inch of water each week, but don’t let the soil become too waterlogged because this is detrimental to the health of the plant. Watering peppers is tricky due to peppers being subject to damping off, but you can use a moisture meter or try the to make this task easier.

Garlic:

garlic-chives2

Place the budding clove or whole bulb in a small cup or bowl.  Using a clear container really helps you see when the water needs to be changed and you can watch the roots grow.  Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the cup and touches just the bottom of the cloves.  Do not submerge the cloves or the water will become cloudy, smelly and the cloves will begin to rot.  Not good.

The garlic cloves will begin producing roots very quickly after a few days.  It’s good practice to change out the little bit water in the cup or bowl when it begins to look slightly cloudy, which is every couple of days.  Soil is not required because the green shoots rising up are getting all their nutrients from the individual cloves.  Plenty of light and fresh water will do nicely.

You can begin harvesting garlic sprouts when the shoots are 3-inches tall; there could be 2 to 3 shoots growing out of each clove.  Try not to remove more than a third of the growing blades.  The green blades capture energy from the sun to grow taller.  Much like a green onion, garlic sprouts grow from within the a single sprout.  Cutting the main sprout back down to the clove will not produce more shoots.  sprouts will grow as tall as 10-inches if left alone.

Ginger:

Pick a few rhizomes that have some buds on them. You’ll notice the greenish buds on the tips of the rhizomes, they’ll look like little starts almost. Make sure you pick plump, healthy looking roots and break them into chunks that have a few good buds each. If they’re shriveled and dry they most likely won’t start. Soak the ginger overnight in water.

planting_ginger

Fill a large pot, at least 12″, with good potting soil and place the rhizomes on top of the soil with the buds facing down. Press the rhizomes gently into the soil and water thoroughly. Place in a warm sunny spot in the North and in a warm shady spot in the South. Ginger is a tropical plant so it likes the heat, but from what I read dislikes full sun in hot climates. Mine is in full sun here since the afternoon sun in Ohio is much different than the afternoon sun in Florida. Cover with plastic or a cloche to keep the humidity levels up.


Keep the container well watered and be patient. It can take a long time for the plants to show above the soil. As long as they don’t look dried out and withered they should be OK. It took 3 months for one of my rhizomes to start showing signs of growth above the soil. I planted these on March 16 this year. Two weeks ago, I went to water the ginger and I noticed this lovely shoot. So far only one of my rhizomes has sprouted a shoot above the soil level.

I’ve read that it takes about a year for the plant to grow roots big enough to harvest. I’ll make sure to blog about my harvest next March! I have another knob in the cupboard that has some nice buds on it, so I may plant it soon. I don’t think one pot of ginger will be enough for our ginger needs! I’m also starting a lemongrass plant, more on that soon.

Cabbage:

Get a planter that is about 10 inches deep, 12 inches wide and the largest length-wise that you have room for. Put a layer of gravel on the bottom, and set the whole planter on the drip tray.

Fill the planter with rich, loamy loose soil. Mix in continuous-release vegetable food according to the instructions on the package. Place a cluster of three cabbage seeds separated by about three inches every 12 inches. For example, if your planter is 36 inches long, plant two clusters of seeds with their centers 12 inches apart and 12 inches from either end. Cover the seeds with half an inch of soil, and put a toothpick between them to mark the location.

Radishes:

Sow the radish seeds. You will want them to be about 1/2 inch (12.5 mm) deep and 1 inch (25 mm) apart. As they germinate, thin the successful seedlings to about 2 inches (5 cm) apart, allowing more space for bigger varieties. Rows should be planted about 1 foot (30 cm) apart. You will want to thin the radishes when they have grown about 1 inch. Aim to just cut off their heads with a small pair of scissors, all the way down to the soil. If you’re planting a large radish you will want to plant the seeds about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch deep.

Cucumber:

  • Plant 4 to 5 seeds about 1/2” (12 mm) deep. Space the seeds 1/2″ apart or more, if possible. Planting them too close together will hinder growth.
  • Water the soil thoroughly so that it is saturated, but not soupy. Water several times until the water drains from the bottom of the pot.
  • Position your cucumber planter in a sunny window. For optimal growth, the plant should receive at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.
  • Allow the seedlings to grow to a height of 2 to 3” (50 to 75 mm). Don’t thin them before they reach this minimum height.
  • Identify 2 plants that look the strongest and gently pull the other plants out of the soil. Be careful not to disturb the soil around the 2 plants you want to keep.
  • Let the remaining 2 plants grow to a height of about 10” (254 mm). Rotate the planter every few days if it looks like the plants are not receiving the same amount of sunlight.
  • Choose the strongest, healthiest of the two plants to keep and eliminate the other one by snipping it off at the base. This will leave you with 1 strong and healthy cucumber plant that will produce well and won’t be crowded.
  • Insert a stick or small trellis near the plant so that you can train the vine to climb. Don’t wait too long to do this; the plant will start climbing as much as 1″ every day, depending on the amount of sunlight it is receiving.
  • Water your plant frequently so that the soil stays moist. Make sure the water thoroughly drains out from the bottom of the planter, so you will know that the roots are getting wet.

Tomato:

Sow 2 to 3 seeds 1/4-inch deep in soil in each pot. Cover with soil and pat down lightly. Store the containers in room of 70 to 80 °F (21 to 27 °C) until germination occurs. When the seeds germinate, move them into full sun or under grow lights.

Dig a hole about 2 feet (0.6 m) deep. It needs to be deep enough that you can plant your seedlings and only the top 1/4 of the plant will be sticking out of the ground. Place a scoop of organic matter such as compost into the bottom of the hole. This will give your plant an extra boost, and also help keep the plant from going into shock from transplanting.

Cilantro:

Select an appropriate pot. Choose a flower pot or container that’s at least 18 inches (45.7 cm) wide and 8 to 10 inches (20.3 to 25.4 cm) deep. Cilantro does not take kindly to being moved, so the pot needs to be big enough to contain the full grown plant.
Plant the seeds. Fill the pot with some fast-draining soil. You can mix in some fertilizer too, if you like. Moisten the soil with a little water until it’s just damp, not soggy. Sprinkle the seeds lightly over the soil to disperse evenly. Cover with another 14 inch (0.6 cm) of soil.
Place the pot in a sunny spot. Cilantro needs full sun to grow, so place it in a sunny window-sill or conservatory. South-facing windows offer the most light and best growing conditions for cilantro. The seeds should germinate within 7 to 10 days.
Harvest the cilantro. Once the stems of the cilantro reach 4 to 6 inches (10.2 to 15.2 cm) in length, it is ready to be harvested. Cut up to 2/3 of the leaves each week, as this will encourage the plant to keep growing. This way, it is possible to harvest four crops of cilantro from a single pot.
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Photo Credit: Linda Lamb Peters

Watermelon:

plant watermelon seeds or transplants. Watermelon seeds need to germinate at a temperature over 70 degrees

Space these 2-6 feet (60cm-1.8m) apart, depending on the amount of space you have. Building the soil up at individual planting locations helps assure that the soil is loose enough for the roots to grow, allows oxygen to each them with ease, and lets excess moisture drain away from direct contact with the roots of your plants. It also helps to conserve available moisture in dry weather.

Water less when the flowers bloom. After the flowers bloom, water approximately every 3 days if dry. However, don’t over-water, as watermelons have a low water requirement.

  • Keep the foliage and fruit dry. You can place fruit onto a clean piece of wood, large smooth pebble, brick, etc.
  • On very hot days, the leaves will probably wilt even in moist soil. If this limpness can still be seen in the evening after a hot day, water deeply.
  • Sweetness in watermelons can be increased by holding off watering for a week prior to harvesting. However, don’t do this if it causes the vines to wilt. Once that crop is harvested, restore the usual watering to enable the second crop to come through well.

Eggplant:

Start your seeds indoors to get a jump on the growing season. Eggplants require temperatures of 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8 degrees Celsius) or higher, which may be difficult to provide in the outdoors during spring. By starting your eggplants indoors, you can begin as early as April.

Poke a 1/2-inch (1 1/4-centimeter) hole in the center of each pot or tray compartment. Use your pinky finger or the rounded end of a pen or pencil to create holes with a good diameter.

Set the pots or trays out on a warm, sunny windowsill. Choose a window in full sun, meaning one that receives direct sunlight for at least 8 hours a day. Full sun provides enough light and warmth to spur growth.
Thin your seedlings once they sprout two sets of leaves. In each pot or tray compartment, keep the stronger of the two seedlings and snip the other one down to soil level. Do not yank the weaker seedling out, since doing so may disrupt the roots of the seedling you wish to keep.
Remove the stronger seedling from its previous container. The weaker seedling should have already been thinned out.
  • Wet the soil to make it as compact as possible. Moist, compact soil will be easier to transplant than dry, crumbly soil.
  • If the seedling is in a cheap plastic container, you can “wiggle” it out of the container by bending the plastic.
  • If the seedling is in a stiffer container, you may need to carefully slide a gardening trowel into the side of the pot and beneath the entirety of the pot’s contents. Tip the container on its side and slowly guide the seedling, soil and all, out of the pot.

Lettuce:

  1. Mist the lettuce seeds each morning. The soil needs to remain continually moist in order to germinate. Germination should occur within one or two weeks.
  2. Water the plant every other day to keep the soil moist. The lettuce may need more or less frequent watering, depending on how warm and sunny your home is. Check the soil frequently by sticking your fingertip into the top 1/2-inch (1 1/4 centimeters). If it feels dry, the lettuce may be due for another watering.
  3. Consider tray-watering the lettuce. Place a tray or saucer of water beneath the container and allow the water to travel into the soil via the drainage holes. By watering from the bottom up, you may have more success in preventing root rot and fungal disease.
  4. Keep the lettuce cool. A room temperature set at 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 21 degrees Celsius) is ideal. Drop the temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) at night to mimic natural conditions.
  5. Place the seedlings in the sunniest window you have. Lettuce seedlings need 14 to 16 hours of bright light in order to grow full, bushy leaves.
  6. Harvest loose-leaf lettuce as you need it or all at once. Immature leaves are just as safe and delicious as mature leaves.
    • Immature lettuce tastes just as good as mature lettuce. As soon as the leaf size is to your liking, you can begin to harvest the outer leaves. Leave the inner leaves alone so that they can develop further.
    • You may need to wait about 4 to 6 weeks for the lettuce to mature if you prefer to harvest a fully mature head of lettuce. Collect the leaves individually, pulling the outer leaves out first and gradually working inward. Mature lettuce “bolts” or produces seed quickly, however, and must be harvested before this occurs. Bolted lettuce has a bitter taste.

I think it’s a long list of vegetables that I plan to grow this winter but I am hopeful I get good results. Get ready because in my next post I’ll be sharing some of my garden games.

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7 thoughts on “The Basics

  1. Hi Anila, I quite enjoyed the amount of research that you put into finding out how to grow each of these vegetables. I think you are going to be successful because of this! As always, I am fascinated by your learning project. Good luck!

    Like

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