Update on Plants

Plants started growing... first set of leaves for chives and basil

Plants started growing... first set of leaves for chives and basil

It has been almost 2-3 weeks since we started planting our plants. There were some plants in which the first set of leaves sprouted in a week and there are some that haven’t shown as signs of growth. Growing plants is not a very easy job it requires constant monitoring of the plants, watering them at the right time with right amount, etc.

Gazania plant growing.

Gazania plant growing.

Some plants like sage, ipomea and nasturtium haven't grown till now.

Some plants like sage, ipomea and nasturtium haven't grown till now.

There were some unusual things that we noticed while the plants were growing for example we had planted chives in 4 – 5 different rock wools. All of them were planted at the same time but in that group only 3 of them have sprouted by now, even though the same amount of water was provided. Another thing that we noticed was that one of the three chives leaves that had been sprouted one of them had purplish leaves and the other two had green leaves.

Purple leaves of chives are circled.

Purple leaves of chives are circled.

Last week we had an opportunity to meet Martha Gay Scroggins from the University of Guelph , she is also the co-ordinator of the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic. Martha discussed a lot of things with the eco-house team and showed us some of her work as well.

Everyone carefully listening to Martha.

Everyone carefully listening to Martha.

We didn’t miss this opportunity and asked her a number of questions regarding the different plants that we are growing and how can we make sure they grow into healthy plants. We told her about our situation of the chives plants. She suggested that we make sure that the plants get proper light from at sides and that there should be a lot of heat around the plants in order for them to grow properly. Another useful tip that she gave us was to use warm water when watering plants. For the coloured leaves she mentioned it could be a result of excess or deficiency of some nutrients in plants.

It was a good experience meeting Martha and seeing all the work that she has managed to get done with the green house and the farm.

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Martha’s Magic Minerals

A few weeks back, during class, Noel Harding handed the Wildflower group a jar of magical minerals. He told us that if we sprinkled the minerals onto the soil where our garden was going to be that it would nourish the land and help our garden grow. When asked where they were from and what they were made of, he pointed us in the direction of his friend and donor of the minerals, Martha Gay Scroggins, co-ordinator of the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming. Martha’s instructions and words of wisdom were “…The minerals consist of over 60 micro nutrients in a fine ground powder… they are sourced from Global Minerals and this product is called “Rama Rock”…They will last for years in the soil and can be returned to soil by leaving vegetative matter in fall and not removing- or composting…they are primarily used to increase plants immunity in organic food production systems…they must be watered in — do not leave on soil to dry out- best to hand broadcast, like adding fairy dust, during a rain is best time to apply…”. So we listened to Martha and sprinkled on the minerals like fairy dust before a rain. Hopefully Rama Rock helps our garden grow.

A little dab will do...or maybe a sprinkle.

Thanks for the advice Martha!

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Issues with the Greenhouse Site

We visited the Eco-house yesterday, and finalized the maximum possible dimensions of the greenhouse. In order to satisfy the requirements of the City of Windsor bylaws, we will maintain a structure less than 108 square feet. Considering some pre-fabricated options, as well as the location of windows on the south side of the Eco-house, it would appear that a 6.5 by 14 foot (91 square feet) greenhouse would be the most appropriate.

The present state of the Eco-house lot indicates that significant ground preparation will be required, including clean-up and grading, prior to starting the build. In-ground planting is being strongly considered, however, the team will require the results of the soil testing being performed by the Urban Agriculture group before proceeding. We also have the opportunity to use on-site rainwater collection for irrigation. It remains to be determined whether a solar-electric irrigation system will be economically feasible, or whether a more simplified approach will be taken.

Further research has been conducted on controlling the temperature of the greenhouse. Since it is a relatively small space, a heating system is not necessarily required. As for cooling, the team has researched the option of an automated solar venting system. Contrary to popular belief, the solar venting system is actually quite affordable, even on our limited budget.

Although significant emphasis has been placed on simplifying the design in an effort to bring it down to a more practical level, there is still a strong desire to include innovative and interesting aspects with an associated artistic value. One method to be used is the concept of vertical growth. Since we are designing a relatively small structure, vertical growing methods would dramatically increase the potential yield of the greenhouse. Including vertical growth along the wall shared between the greenhouse and the Eco-House would further assist with regulating the temperature of the Eco-House while providing a great opportunity for hydroponic growth in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. The vertical growth wall could even be expanded beyond the length of the greenhouse to include adjacent portions of the Eco-House wall. One example of a vertical garden (including rainwater harvesting) is presented in the blog photo. This particular green wall was developed by an OCAD student (Michael Tampilic) in 2008.

Special thanks to Martha Gay-Scroggins (University of Guelph) for meeting with us last Thursday and offering much insight on our greenhouse development.

Photo & Associated Article:


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