LED New Setup

Finished.  While I understand the meaning of the word, I don’t do it very well.  Last weekend I made enough progress on the new setup to move the cool weather plants, but caught a cold that’s slowed me down this week.  After a small wiltdown because the fan in this light creates a lot more dry air so that the plants need more water, everyone seems to be happy. 

new setup
new setup

The frame is made from a saw horse kit.  The legs are 5′ long 2X4s.  And the crossbar is a 1 X 3′, about 4′ long.  I’m still trying to determine the optimal measurements so extra lengths just hang there.  I can always cut later.  My desk is in this area so I’ve found that an old quilt helps keep the light out of my eyes while I work at my desk.

eye saver

The sides are made of 1/4″ sheeting.  They are just laid across a bar (1 X2) that also strengthens the rigidity of the structure.  The sheeting will be covered with silvered mylar or aluminum foil after the lettuces adjust to the stronger light.  I’m leaving them freestanding so that I can easily get to the plants from either side.

sides made from 1/4 sheets
sides made from 1/4 sheets

From left to right are a few pea shoots, ready to harvest; Simpson’s Elite Lettuce, Red Sails Lettuce and the remainder of the old batch of lettuces that have been cut several times.

Under the cool weather tent
Under the cool weather tent

I was curious about how the old lettuces would age in their small soil blocks.  They are showing some stress with the occasional brown tip, and all of the new leaves stay small.  But I’m still getting salads and sandwiches from them.  The basil continues to grow very slowly under the old setup.  I designed the “tent” thinking two would fit in my basement but I’m undecided about whether to try a warm plants setup this year.

LEDs again

I’ve purchased a new, larger light and I was hoping to have pictures of the new, more permanent basement setup.  Between poor design and construction skills, it’s not ready yet.  So here is a quick status, with pictures, instead.  Click on the pictures for a bigger view.

root structure on old lettuce
root structure on old lettuce

The older lettuces are showing signs of stress with more tip burn on the outer leaves.  I was not sure how long they would last in 2″ soil cubes.  But there’s still plenty to harvest from them.  I will probably harvest and throw away about half of the older plants to make room for the second planting which is approaching maturity. 

picked lettuce tip burn after a week in the fridge
picked lettuce tip burn after a week in the fridge

Some of the picked lettuces developed brown tips in the lettuce keeper after about a week in the fridge.  This is not the bad stuff, which happens on the inner leaves of growing plants.  However, it gives me something to improve upon.  While the simple cause of tip burn is not enought calcium uptake, it seems that its not a problem that can usually be solved by making more calcium

old lettuce plants
old lettuce plants

available to the plant. 

Low light sometimes contributes, but too much light will, too!  I’ll try to compile a some of the resources that I’ve found or that friends have sent me in a different post, specifically about this issue in lettuces. 

basil

The basil is getting two hours of low speed “wind” a day from a fan to, hopefully, strengthen the stems.  This is in addition to being on a heat mat.  And it’s still growing exceptionally slowly.  Growing warm weather plants may not be worth the energy; hard to measure since I’ve mixed them in this temporary setup. 

Also trying to get more variety by starting micro greens.  It was a package of mixed greens and that may be a mistake. 

micro greens
micro greens

When you are working with such short development cycles, if one green is a few days behind another it creates problems.  And you can tell these would like to have a bigger share of the light.

My goal is to blaze a trail (if feasible) for us northern gardners who have a spare bedroom or some unused basement space and who want to extend their growing season inside with LED lights.  I don’t find many others in my research; the most help is coming from greenhouse growers.  But here is yet another innovative business trying to grow under LEDs for commercial use:  Podponics.

Giverny

[oqeygallery id=22]Since I mentioned it in a recent post, I thought it might be time to share my pictures and thoughts about the garden. It was one of the first gardens that I visited outside of Paris and I’ve returned over and over again.  Although my earlier trips weren’t captured on camera, I have been there every month of the year while it’s open, except for July.  I intend to fix that someday. 

The garden is always beatiful.  One October vist after a heavy frost, the naturtiums were grey mush but the colors reflected in the pond were incredible.  The garden is well funded.  The staff start hundreds of thousands of annuals every year so that there is never an empty space. They strive to be true to Monet’s artistic vision for the garden, although plant materials may be somewhat different than he might have used. I recommend that you find time to visit Museum Marmottan and the Musee d’Orsay  to see his work on the same trip when you visit this garden. The spirit of the place is somehow shared in all of Monet’s work.

Many people choose to take a train or a tour bus from Paris to see this garden and that works, but then you are on the same schedule as hundreds of other tourists.  The train stops in Vernon, over three miles away from the garden.  There is a bus that finishes the trip but the one time that I took the train, there were too many people for the bus and many people were left to find taxis and other conveyance on their own.  Rick Steve suggests that the last hours in the day have the least tourist traffic and I’ve found that to be generally good advice.  After the bus leaves to take the tourists back to the Paris-bound train.  Although packed with beauty and history, it’s a small garden; an hour or two will do it justice. Leave extra time if you want to tour inside the house (it costs more) as there are often lines.

The small town around Giverny is worth some time, too.  The Museum of American Art has pretty plantings, keeping with the theme.  And the hotel and restaraunt Baudy has a rose garden worth visiting, especially in early summer.  (Do watch out for the nettles.)  The visit was free if I ate there, if they still have it, try the omlette with rabbit and potatoes.  It’s a classic so I expect they still do.