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Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

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Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/5/2013, 2:50 pm

So I started with just the idea of raised beds (non-SFG). I bought a bunch of 16x8x8 cinder blocks, and built my beds:

They were 40"x40"x16", with the plan being to go to 24" deep. And yeah, five of them. First time gardener, I was gonna tackle five beds, lol.

Then I found SFG, and realized everything I was going to do was WRONG. Everything I knew, everything I thought I knew, and of course everything I didn't know; all of it, WRONG.

So I tore everything down, and started over (weekend of 3/2-3/3):

Three beds, 48"x48"x16", with the bottom 4" filled with fast-draining sand. Left side is North, for reference; this is 9am sun as of today. I want a foot of depth to 1) hold more water, as Las Vegas gets very very hot and very very dry, 2) as a bit more mass to serve as a heatsink, and 3) to grow root veggies if I need a better excuse. Wink

I managed, that same weekend, to mix 16cf of Mel's Mix and get it in a bed (filled), and made a grid from redwood lath from Lowes...I got so excited, I planted it in the dead of night! Laughing

Top is North for reference. Top row will be the cukes, toms, and peas as mentioned below. I'm a few weeks behind the curve as far as last frost dates and such, so I planted Touchon carrots, French Breakfast radishes, Thomas Laxton peas, Tom Thumb lettuce, Marvel of Four Seasons lettuce, Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach, rainbow swiss chard, a square of dwarf marigolds, and I think that's it. I planted the carrots so that they will companion with my eventual tomato plants.

Back on 2/23, I started some seeds indoors:

From left to right, you have Straight Eight cucumbers, Cherokee Purple tomatoes, Black Krim tomatoes, and Crenshaw melons. The cucumbers germinated (visibly) in less than 20hrs! Shocked
The tomatoes took longer, but are now getting their first true leaves out first.
The melons took the longest, and I have a lowish germination rate with them, but that's ok.
I have friends waiting for some of my starts, so all the robust seedlings will go to good homes, in theory.

And finally, for some non-plant life, I found this little guy while I was building the raised beds:

So I have high hopes!

(We have hummingbird moths though, so I will be really looking for those darned hornworms!)

brainchasm

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/5/2013, 3:05 pm

Things I'm planning:

All northern ends of the beds will get the conduit/netting trellises(?) mentioned in the book, and will be anchored in the corner bricks with the conduit sliding into PVC that has been cemented into those corners.

Also, more PVC tubing in the cement corners to let a dome cover structure slide in (does that make sense?).
I'm going to need to have those beds covered a fair bit, or they will get fried in the summer sun.

Planning on putting a dwarf citrus tree to the east of the southernmost bed. Hopefully the shade will be useful and not overmuch, and will attract pollinators. I already have bees and wasps drinking out of my pool pretty routinely, so there's that.

I also want to paint the outside of the beds white or stucco or that material around pools (the stuff that doesn't hold or transfer heat) to try and keep the beds from turning into crock pots and cooking my veggies before they're ready. Very Happy

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  Dunkinjean on 3/5/2013, 4:02 pm

Brainchasm - glad you\'re here to the forum. Holy cow you did an awesome job! You certainly know what you are doing.
Best of luck to you and post pictures as the plants grow.

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/5/2013, 4:11 pm

An addendum, in case anyone is wondering:

My seed starting setup is a standard coir pellet seed tray with the water channeled bottom and a clear dome. At least, the clear dome was there until the cucumbers were too tall for it.

I started my seeds using a 6' floor lamp with a flexible neck; I put a 100W halogen floodlight in it, bend it straight down so it's directly over the seed tray, and with that, the dome, and maybe a small box underneath it to get closer to the light, I can easily hit 85-95F in the tray.

I keep the setup in the garage, and even though the garage may get very cool at night, the floodlight keeps everything warm and happy. I don't think the plants are getting leggy, but I don't know that I would recognize it.
Lately, since they're sprouted really well, I've been giving them an hour of full sun in the morning while I get ready for work, trying to both supplement their light as well as harden them a bit - they should be going into the ground in a couple few weeks!

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  Pepper on 3/5/2013, 4:30 pm

glad you\'re here brainchasm to the forum. I also jumped in with both feet last year. I made 4 beds each 4'x8'x12"; but I messed up and did not use MM. Now this year I get to do it over but right this time. You are way ahead of me using seeds WOW you did jump big.
rock on rock on rock on rock on rock on rock on

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/5/2013, 4:51 pm

Thanks for the welcome Dunkinjean and Pepper!

Also, forgot to mention - when I did the peas, I used inoculant. Here's hoping!

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Wow!

Post  Windmere on 3/5/2013, 5:07 pm

You've done a beautiful job brainchasm. I might try using cement blocks next year. You are way ahead of the game. I am only now planting seeds.

Well done!


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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/12/2013, 4:59 pm

Potted up my best tomato & cucumber seedlings. Culled a bunch, and selected some also-ran's for my co-worker.
Culled most of my melon plants. Not sure if I even want to grow them this year, what with their space requirements.

In the now empty starter cells, I sowed new seeds of spinach, marigolds, nasturtiums, and just three serrano pepper seeds. If even pepper plant sprouts, that'll likely be enough. I'm much more conservative with seed now since I read SFG.

Also noticed one Black Krim tomato seedling that is pulling away from the pack in growth, and I am tentatively attributing it to not having to compete with one or two other seedlings in the same starter cell, like every other sprout had to do. Food for thought for me.

My 200W CFL should be here tomorrow!

Almost everything in the first raised bed is sprouting! Only waiting on carrots, peas, and chard.
Spinach, both lettuces, radishes (of course), and marigolds are all coming up nicely.

And finally, just ordered my drip irrigation kit from dripworks.com. Economy garden kit, just the right amount of hose and tubing, and I got a reasonable timer, and some 6" spaced dripline to use instead of the 12" spaced that the kit comes with. I may still be able to find a use for the 12".

This weekend, hopefully I'll be installing the drip kit, and planting more things!

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  cheyannarach on 3/13/2013, 12:09 am

Wowzers! Your setup is AWESOME!! What a great job you are doing, your seedlings look fantastic! If you want to try melons you could plant them in a container or tire to keep them from taking up so much space in your beds! Keep us posted and kep up the great work!

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/13/2013, 3:36 am

The peas are finally breaking through this morning, looks like good viability.

I found one lone chard seedling breaking through...there are four plantings of it, and I only see one. Gonna give it another week at least, but I am...concerned.

Only thing I am waiting for in the actual bed are the carrots!

Seed tray hasn't done anything yet.

I left my seedlings out in the sun too much today - my cucumber plants limped out and fell the hell over like they were dead. Brought them inside ASAP, gave them some water, and they are perked up again...still looking leggy though.

The tomato-lings were out there at the same time...still standing straight up, like they couldn't care less. I think these tomato plants are going to make me very happy!

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/14/2013, 12:53 am

Grow light came in!

54W (200W equiv) 6400K CFL. Thing is enormous! I tried putting foil on the lampshade to direct more light where I wanted it, but it didn't really work, so I ran to Goodwill, found a little plastic trashcan, drilled a hole in the bottom for the socket, and then foiled the inside of that.

Here are the potted up seedlings enjoying a "light bath" with the new light!



(do those cucumbers look leggy, or do they just start tall like that?)

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/16/2013, 1:14 am

I had a half-day at work, so I got my drip irrigation system installed for all three beds this afternoon. Very pleased with myself. Currently have it going for 15min every three hours; I’ll let it run like that for a day, and check the moisture levels. So far, it seems like maybe a bit too much, but with the heat of the day, it might be just right.

Stopped by the nursery before all that, looking at what might do well in the imminent heat. I already have Jing Orange okra and Japanese White Egg eggplant seeds coming from Baker (both heat-lovers). I decided to grab some Mrs. Burns lemon basil, and some Dragon Tongue beans at the nursery. Started some seeds of each in my seed tray. Not going to let them grow there though this time…as soon as they sprout, out they go, into their garden plots!

I've been doing what I can to harden off my potted up plants for some time now. If I can get the covers built or at least serviceable tomorrow, I may plant out some of these leggy cucumbers, and see what happens. Here they all are - Straight Eight cucumbers, Black Krim tomatoes, Cherokee Purple tomatoes, and even the Crenshaw melons, all having a light bath with some fan action.




This is my best tomato plant, a Black Krim.



Last pic is one of my cucumber plants…one of its seed leaves is going all dead and papery and white, but it’s almost like the plant is pulling the good stuff out of it.



In any case, all of their first true leaves look really green and well-formed, it’s just too bad I made them leggy with that stupid floodlight.



OH! And miracle of miracles...


I saw a single carrot sprouting....one day early...here's hoping the others come up in the next couple days!

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  littlejo on 3/16/2013, 3:48 pm

The seed leaves will die off, possibly the fan is making it happen quicker, I wouldn't worry as long as the 2nd leaves are there before they fall off.
Jo

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/16/2013, 5:50 pm

@littlejo wrote:The seed leaves will die off, possibly the fan is making it happen quicker, I wouldn't worry as long as the 2nd leaves are there before they fall off.
Jo
Ah, good to know! Thanks Jo!

I'll have some pictures up here shortly of the drip system...gonna wait 15min so I can catch it in action. Very Happy

So last night, I soaked and planted some Dragon Tongue beans in my seed starting tray. I go look this morning to see if anything besides those beans are sprouting, and there in a bean cell is a seedling going gangbusters! 1" tall, trying to unfold its seed leaves, and I'm thinking, "Whoa...superbean!", but then I remembered I planted each bean in the center of a cell, and this seedling was off to the side.
Sure enough, after a little poking around, the bean is there and is just fine...super seedling was in fact a late cucumber seed that I missed when I was clearing/cleaning the coir and refilling the cells.

I felt bad when I pulled him out, so for the time being I stood him up in some water, and we'll see what I decide to do with him. He reminds me of myself...trying so very very hard, just kind of a late bloomer. Wink

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/16/2013, 6:41 pm

Irrigation pics!

Plot A:




Plot B:




Plot C:



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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/17/2013, 6:39 pm

I was busy last night...



Trellises and dome frames up, all slid onto rebar. I had a neat option with the cinder block, in that I could put the rebar inside the holes of the cinder block, both for a more "together" look, and for safety. Can't snag yourself on them! Very Happy



I also spent some time just examining the plants, look at true leaves (holy crap, peas are monsters!), and decided to thin down to what I'm supposed to have in there. Reduced competition for nutrients, water, and light should result in more vigorous plants (I'm looking at you, carrots and lettuce! Get to it!).

Continuing hardening off the tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons. Melons finally unfolded their first true leaves, so that was nice. Also, I keep finding late starts in my seed tray, and this time it was two melons (I think...), so I planted them out in Plot B, before they could get used to bad lighting and wet coir, etc. With the irrigation system and shade cloths in play, maybe they'll make a go of it.

At least I hope they're melons...if they're cucumbers I'm going to be annoyed.

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/18/2013, 12:20 am

Seedlings pics. This is pretty much all just Plot A (unless they're in cups):

Cherokee Purple tomato


Black Krim tomato


Crenshaw melon


Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach


Touchon carrot


Marvel of Four Seasons lettuce


Rainbow chard (silverbeet)


Tom Thumb lettuce


Thomas Laxton peas


Straight Eight cucumbers


French Breakfast radishes


Sorry for the picture spam! cyclops


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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  FamilyGardening on 3/18/2013, 8:10 am

love the photo's Very Happy

everything is coming up so nice....your plants look so healthy cheers

congrats on a great start to your garden sunny

happy gardening
rose

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/18/2013, 3:15 pm

@FamilyGardening wrote:love the photo's Very Happy

everything is coming up so nice....your plants look so healthy cheers

congrats on a great start to your garden sunny

happy gardening
rose
Thanks rose!

I hope they're healthy; being a novice, I don't know what I'm looking for most of the time. They're just so little, and at least my cucumbers will fall over at the drop of a hat, it makes me sad.

Planted some more in the middle of the night - peas in both Plot B and C, found a germinating basil and moved it to Plot B, as well as a germinating nasturtium, also to Plot B.

More details of my garden can be seen at brainchasm's garden on myfolia.com

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 3/22/2013, 1:22 am

Well, I soaked a few of the okra seeds the other day. After about 12 hours, I saw tiny little root nubs, so I moved them out of the cup of water to a wet paper towel, under the floodlight for heat.

Two days later, yeah, one of them has a big fat root sticking out of it and trying to go down, so I put him out in Plot B in his own square.

Here's hoping!

Also the other night, made dinner with a friend and amongst the supplies she brought was a 'live basil' from Fresh & Easy. Apparently, you keep it with the bottom of the cup sitting in a bit of water, and you can keep picking it for some time.

Well, that seemed...mean. So, we picked a square in Plot C, depotted the basil (poor thing was so badly rootbound, it was as bad as the pic in Mel's book!), trimmed the bottom third of that messy rootball, and stuck him in a hole!

Hopefully it'll take, and I'll have early regular basil to cook! The basil seeds I bought are lemon basil, so their usage is somewhat more limited/specific.



Very Happy

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 4/1/2013, 2:13 pm

Planted out my tomatoes, cucumbers, and melon plants.

Plot A is full and complete; radishes are less than three weeks from harvest (so I need to start thinking what goes in after I harvest the radishes!)

Plot B is full and complete except for one square, because I'm trying to sprout the eggplant that goes there, inside first.

Plot C is half planted, and I diagrammed what I think I want in there, being mindful of companion planting, the shade that it gets from the house, the coming season, etc.

On to pics!

Plot A




Plot B




Plot C




____________________________

I think my sunflower plant can take me in a fair fight...it's taller than me, and it keeps giving me dirty looks. Shocked

My garden progress:
MyFolia.com - Garden Tracking Community Find more about Weather in Las Vegas, NV

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 4/5/2013, 1:09 am

Welp, I was noticing some small damage to my Tom Thumb lettuce and my rainbow chard plants, so I got all OCD and started inspecting...

little, tiny, green caterpillars! GRRRRRRR!!!

So, I'm picking them off by hand, and I think I've got them all, but I'm sure there are eggs (saw a tiny green sphere smaller than a pinhead) around, so I'll have to keep looking for them.

Super tiny, but I think loopers? They coil when they're disturbed.

Anyway, my pest cherry is popped - I got caterpillars.

Mad Evil or Very Mad No pale

____________________________

I think my sunflower plant can take me in a fair fight...it's taller than me, and it keeps giving me dirty looks. Shocked

My garden progress:
MyFolia.com - Garden Tracking Community Find more about Weather in Las Vegas, NV

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  Triciasgarden on 4/5/2013, 6:44 pm

brainchasm this was sure fun to look at your wonderful pics and read what you have been planting and doing! You are doing an amazing job and sure seem to have a great grasp on what to do! I hope you can get those caterpillers all done in so they will leave your garden alone! Wonderful job!

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  TejasTerry on 4/5/2013, 9:20 pm

You will love Dragons Tongue beans. I grow them in South texas.... which is dry and hot like Vegas. WTG..... looking good.

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

Post  brainchasm on 4/13/2013, 3:41 pm

My oh my, what a difference two weeks (and then two more weeks!) can make!

March 16th, Plot A



March 31st, Plot A



and now, April 13th, Plot A


Shocked Twisted Evil cheers

____________________________

I think my sunflower plant can take me in a fair fight...it's taller than me, and it keeps giving me dirty looks. Shocked

My garden progress:
MyFolia.com - Garden Tracking Community Find more about Weather in Las Vegas, NV

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Re: Newbie in Las Vegas, year 1!

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