Lettuce Michelle in the winter greenhouse inside the walapini — one of my favorites!

It’s been rough this winter!

I started the first seeds in October but very little sprouted. Some of the seeds were a few years old, so I reseeded about 6 weeks later. Apparently, it had been too hot in the seedling addition (as we call the adobe addition where we start seeds), and got much better germination the second time around.

I’ve been putting a few Michelle in the ground for seed harvesting because I haven’t been able to find Michelle where I usually order. There’s no cross-pollination since it’s the only flowering lettuce and it’s an heirloom.

The third time I fell around Xmas (stressed with rain storms and guests at the vacation rental I manage), I hurt my foot and since I’m here by myself, I have to walk way more than I should.  After a week, the foot didn’t hurt when I woke up, we finally had a beautiful sunny day and I decided to haul water.  Unfortunately, I tripped over small rocks a couple of times, just as my foot was getting better.

Fortunately, I set up eight hydro tubs in the winter greenhouse a few weeks ago as I need to move the next round of net pot trays to the winter greenhouse in the walapini soon.

I had two volunteers scheduled for early January, but had to cancel and reschedule due to the constant rains, washed-out road, leaky camper (going to replace the entire roof once it dried out) and I can barely walk.   Sure could use some help, but hopefully will get those trays out “soon.”

1-7-23 Netpots Starts

1/7/23 Net pot starts

As soon as they have roots going into the water they can go outside.

1-7-23 seedlings

1/7/23 seedlings

Once I moved the trays out I can transplant more seedlings into net pots.  Unfortunately have to STAND and my biggest fear is compensating with my right leg.  It already hurts sometimes.

Of course, there are way more seedlings than space in the net pot trays, so I transplant the largest seedlings.  It only takes a few days for the seedlings to grow roots into the water, and they can go outside to make space for new trays.

Eventually, there will be 20+ net pot trays in the walapini. 

Unlike commercial growers, we do NOT cut the plants back to an inch or so for a second crop.   Instead, we continually harvest the lowest (oldest) leaves for these reasons:

  • Extremely high yield as the plants continue to grow new leaves
  • Flowering is delayed because they’re busy growing leaves.
  • Practically no waste as leaves should be harvested before they turn yellow.
  • Very little insect damage.

My only spray is water, possibly with some OMRI-certified nutrients for foliar feeding.

Will have to research organic hydro fertilizer again.  Fortunately, the major commercial hydro fertilizers are now very clean as marijuana is tested for toxins in most states’ dispensaries.   Growers won’t buy products resulting in crop rejection.

In February I’ll hopefully get the summer crops started.  Constant rotation until summer when it gets too hot for starts.

Mustard is one of my and the aphids’ favorites!

1/7/23 Mustard with aphids

Aphids are super easy to get rid of.  First, the trays should be moved outside the winter greenhouse in the walapini and also moved to trays with fewer plants (needs to be done anyway).

While moving the plants to the new tray, I trim the oldest leaves and spray the aphids off with plain water.  That’s all it takes, spray off the aphids with water for a few days and then check occasionally.

None of those jobs are sit-down jobs.    But it really needs to get done because I LOVE mustard at least as much as the aphids.

These are actually Wasabi Microgreens and I’m not impressed with microgreens. I want BIG leaves.  Left the microgreens in the starter tray last year as they show in videos and the yield is so low.  So I’m trying to grow them out.

Started quite a few mustard varieties, various lettuce, chard, collards, kale, and all sorts of greens.

Most kale, collards, and chard will go in the ground in the garden into the fruit trees’ water rings once they’re 8″ or so.  Don’t like to waste water just for trees.

Hydroponics is the fastest way to start greens and they are very easy to transplant from water to dirt.  I rarely lose a plant.

We’ll see how that goes with Rocket Baby the piglet.

12/12/22 Rocket after rooting in the mud

12/12/22 Rocket after rooting in the mud

When I don’t pay attention he gets into the garden with me and I have to lure him back out with treats.  There’s no way I can chase him with my injured foot.

Rocket listens quite well unless he’s eating 🙂  He absolutely LOVES the tomatillos that froze in October.  Have to be careful that he doesn’t eat too many and gets sick.  Have yet to clean up the garden.  So much deferred maintenance!

We do need rain, but I also need SUNSHINE.