Hydro Unit
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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Springtime under the lights

There may be snow on the ground outside, but it's springtime indoors under the lights!

The grapefruit trees have suddenly decided that it's time to make more leaves again, and both of them are putting out new clusters of greenery from the ends of their branches. They're really starting to get close to the lights now, so I guess it's time to raise the racks again, and give them a little bit more room. these started out as breakfast one morning a couple of years ago, and have grown to a height of about three feet. My balcony doesn't provide the most ideal environment for them, so they've been living indoors under the lights for the last year or so. From time to time, they spontaneously decide that it's "springtime", and produce new clusters of leaves to add to their "canopy".

My Picotee Blue morning glory vine continues to produce blooms - many of them "double" flowers - and it's probably about time to see about putting it into a new, more permanent container. This one was grown from a seed selected from the "unknown, but probably blue" seeds that I gathered form my balcony morning glories in the fall of last year, and they've been making lots of doubled blooms with distinctly pink-colored throats. It has also produced a handful of normal blooms, which I have hand-pollinated, in hopes of getting more seeds from this blue and pink picotee vine, but nothing has taken so far.

I've also got a few new seedlings that have been sprouting under the lights. This is a pair of convolvulus seeds that I planted a couple of weeks ago, to see how well these relatives of the morning glory vines would do indoors under the lights. As you can see, they've been growing fairly well. From the description, they should be "dwarf morning glory" plants, which produce flowers like the vines, but on short little bushy plants. These sprouts are vary compact so far, so that may well be exactly what I end up getting.

Finally, I have a pair of giant moonflower (Ipomoea alba) sprouts. The first of these got a little bit burned by peroxide while I was germinating it. Both of its cotyledons were damaged in the seed, and once they opened up, about two thirds of one was bleached out, and one third of the other. I didn't have high hopes for its survival, so I started a second seed without peroxide. Not only did the second seed germinate and sprout normally, but the original one bounced back, and is growing normally now. Once it had a "normal" leaf open and soaking up the artificial sunlight, it started making a vine and more leaves just fine. It's grown a couple of inches just in the last few days, so it's well on its way to becoming the 15-foot vine that the package said it would produce. The second sprout is just a pair of cotyledons so far, but they've turned a nice, healthy dark green with some purple in the veins, and a growing tip has appeared in the crook between them, so it isn't very far behind the first one.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Well, I guess something must be working - today, I have tomato sprouts in all three positions.

This makes it a little less than a week from the initial "planting" to the sprouts reaching the top of the cardboard discs, so they're pretty much right on track, as compared to tomato seeds that I've grown before.

They're still inside their little plastic domes, so they won't show up too well on the camera for a while, but they're still very small, and wouldn't look like much more than just specks, anyway.

It's good to see them making progress, and hopefully, they'll outgrow their domes before long, and there will actually be something to look at, rather than just spots of condensation on plastic.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Let's see if this works...

Hello there, and welcome to the blog I made to go with my garden cams.

In may of 2007, I planted some morning glory vines in planters on the side of my apartment's balcony. The goal was partly to provide a screening wall between myself and the noisy neighbors, dog-walking area, and air conditioning units down below, and partly to shade the large sliding glass door from the afternoon sun and keep things a little bit cooler in the summertime. For the most part, it worked on both counts. The morning glory vines grew enthusiastically, with plenty of large green leaves to provide some privacy, and once they got tall enough, they did throw a shadow on the window, keeping things shady and relatively cool. It's winter now, and the vines have died off, and been taken down. They made lots of flowers during the summer, which became hundreds of seeds, so I've got plenty to use for this year's screening wall. For the time being, there isn't a lot to see on the balcony camera, other than maybe being able to tell if it's raining or snowing in back of my apartment.

A recent addition to the gardencam setup is the Hydrocam. This is pointing at a small AeroGarden hydroponic unit set up with some cherry tomato seed pods. With any luck, it will be looking at some small sprouts soon, which will hopefully grow into little tomato plants and produce red and yellow cherry tomatoes. At the moment, images captured after the timer turns off the lights (at around 11:00 PM) have a bright glare from the reflection of the low-light illumination off of the light hood, but I'm working on a solution for that. If nothing else, the hood is designed to be raised as the plants grow, so it will eventually be moved into a position where the glare won't be a problem anymore.

Initially, I made periodic entries and notes about what was going on with the vines on the camera's page. the addition of the second camera made it difficult to keep notes on two cameras at once, so I'm experimenting with using this blog for keeping track of things as they develop.

We'll see how it works out.