Saturday, August 13, 2011

Working with a Tech

I've been doing some work (both voluntary and in class) in the TAFE Glasshouse over the past month or so and on Thursday I got asked if I would like to assist the Tech from 'PowerPlants' to do a service and calibrate the Fertigation Unit. For those that don't know what a Fertigation Unit is, then just think of it as a machine that mixes the fertilisers and injects it into the water that feeds the hydroponic feeding system for the Tomato and Capsicum crops. (something we touched on in our Irrigation and Fertigation Classes). The work was fairly easy and we replaced the EC sensors and scoured the EC tubes with sand, plus other cleaning to valves and injectors. The Fertigation System is connected to a computer and can be controlled by staff here at Cranbourne, or from a company in Holland that developed the system.

Part of the system can be seen here.

Grandfather for Ray

I asked on Ozgrow for some seeds for a 'Grandfather Ashlock' tomato and received a reply from my friend Ray to say he had a small few that were getting a bit old I could have to see if I could get them to grow. In return for the seeds, I would give him some fresh seeds back at the end of the season. From the 3 seeds I sowed, I managed to get 2 to germinate, so hopefully I can get them through to be able to save seeds from them.

Here's one of the two seedlings growing, notice that these are Potato Leaf type tomatoes.

The Rhubard awakens

I have about 30 Rhubarb plants in all size pots, most of which went dormant over the Winter, but they are now wakening and putting on new growth. A lot of them were seed grown last season and they managed a crown before dormancy, while the 'old' variety I have never slept and one plant is throwing a flower, which I'll let grow because this is a very sweet variety Rhubarb, which may show the same traits in seed grown plants. The old story goes - that seed grown Rhubarb never comes as true as what a division grown plant does, but that's yet to be seen here.

A flower on my old variety.

A Market Garden grown variety.

Seed grown and overwintered.

A Rarity in Cranbourne

How would you like to have this growing in your garden?

This is Hibiscus insularis, an Australian Native that originates from Phillip Island, not the Phillip Island that is in Westernport Bay, but the Phillip Island in the Norfolk Island Group in the Pacific Ocean. I have some cuttings down for this plant, along with some seeds and I am expecting to get a plant going, hard and all as they are to grow.

Here's where I'm up to at the moment, not including the cuttings. I have had 5 seeds germinate, 2 mysteriously eaten off during the night shortly after surfacing, but 3 are still hanging in albeit ever so slowly to grow in our cold Winter.

Potato Leaf Tomato or Not?

Can you pick if your tomato seedling is a potato leaf or a regular leaf? (This only applies to those who grow their own plants from seed.)

Once the first true leaf starts to show itself, that's when you can pick the difference. Here's two photos to show what I mean, the top is the regular leaf, while the bottom is the potato leaf.

See what I mean.

An extra Leaf doesn't mean a better plant.

Each year when I sow my Tomato and Capsicum related seeds, I quite often end up with tricot and quadcot seedlings. A Tricot is a 3 seed leaf seedling, while a Quadcot is a 4 leaf seedling, which some believe will make the plant stronger and do extra things as it grows and fruits, but I've never seen any difference in all the years I've grown tomatoes. This year it was beginning to look like I wouldn't get a single tricot, but I managed a single in a tomato and a single in a Gogosari. I watched the tomato tricot when it grew its first true leaves and sure enough an extra leaf grew (on an extra stem) which doesn't usually happen, so I'll probably grow it and follow it through the season.

Here it is as it grows.