Monday, April 30, 2007

Green Things from the Basement

The basement light garden is growing well. The annuals, perennials, orchids and other stuff are aphid and gnat-free so far. The only problem was some mildew that developed while I was away and resident-lawnmower-man was watering the plants. I resolved this by removing the yellowed, withered leaves and directing an oscillating fan to blow over the plants. This restores good airflow, but means I've got to stay vigilant to prevent overdrying of the little plants.

I am currently soaking some morning glory seeds ("Star of Yelta"). The package picture looks attractive, yet up until now I had felt too lazy to do the required chipping of the seed coat and soaking of the seed required for successful germination. Just like lupines and sweet peas, they have a tough seed coat and need some help to germinate. I use an exacto knife to chip off a little piece of the seed coat, leaving a bare spot that shows the green core the the seed. We'll see how it goes!

This flat of Aladdin Cherry petunias looks quite good. Although the seeds and seedlings of petunias are extremely small, growing them seems to be quite easy!

I have just 3 grape tomato plants started, but they quickly grew too tall for the basement light garden so they are sitting with the orchids in the living room. I started my seeds around March 1, so hopefully I can get some mid-summer fruits.

I find it intriguing that the species name for the tomato (Lycopersicon) means "wolf peach". Lykos is Greek for wolf, Lupinum is Latin for wolflike. The wolfish origins of the name don't seem too apparent to me. Some googling revealed the sordid history of the vegetable hailing from South America. It was thought to be poisonous by the Europeans, though the Aztecs had been eating tomato salsa on their chalupas and gorditas for thousands of years (or at least, the Aztecs that went to Taco Bell). Tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family, along with eggplants and peppers, but only the green parts of the plant contain the toxic alkaloids.

According to the climactic data for La Ronge on the northscaping website (http://www.northscaping.com/Tools/ClimaticDataMap.shtml), we have annual precipitation of 19 in. (489 mm), last spring frost May 17, first fall frost Sept 22, for a typical growing season of 128 days. Check out the northscaping website, it has climactic data for North America north of 37 degrees latitude. Anyhow, most tomatoes seem to take much longer than 128 days to do anything, so hopefully this year we have success.

1 comment:

Kate said...

I will be keeping my fingers crossed that you have great success with your tomatoes. Your garden under lights looks wonderful - far more organized than mine (at least you don't have duct tape holding up one of the grow lights!)

The tomato story was an interesting one. I love learning about the origins of plant names. It is fascinating.

I will check out the site you mentioned ... I have a hunch that we don't have many more frost-free days than you do far north of here!!