Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures

Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures - learning about gardening up north.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Winter Tomatoes in Wasilla Update

My indoor Dwarf tomatoes are setting fruit now - the last week in January - and I hope to get a decent crop soon. My plants are full of blossoms and I see no signs of any disease or pests.

I use a Blossom Set spray and have not tried hand pollinating. I might try adding some Epsom Salt to the water and see if it helps.

I am using six - 6500 degree daylight T12 florescent bulbs in three 4' shop light fixtures for grow lights set for 16 hours a day. I used Pro-Mix peat based soilless growing medium and set the pots in bottom watering trays. I feed with Safer Brand Oxygen Plus Liquid Plant Food. I cover my shelf racks with inexpensive camping "Space Blankets" to serve as light reflectors.

I have been harvesting lettuce and kale for several weeks and those plants are still going strong. Winter here in South Central Alaska is only about half way over - but that doesn't stop me from growing fresh veggies all year long. What food crops are you growing indoors during the winter months? Share your advice and any special techniques that you use. I am sure there are other indoor gardeners out there and we are all interested in learning what lighting, irrigation, nutrients, and containers work for you.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Winter Tomatoes in Wasilla

A new year and a new garden to plan... I have already placed a few seed orders and will be trying out many new tomato varieties. Since my space is limited by the size of my greenhouse and the hoop tunnels in my garden, I have decided to try out some of the smaller dwarf tomato varieties. Inspired by the Dwarf Tomato Project started in Australia. One source that I recommend for dwarf tomato seeds is: Tatiana's TOMATObase  and I am anxious to see how they do in my garden. I am trying out some dwarf tomatoes indoors under grow lights this winter. I have Red Robin, Tiny Tim, and Micro Tom growing in pots. They just started flowering and hopefully will be setting fruit soon.

One of my problems in the past has been overcrowding in my greenhouse as the plants grow up to the roof and require pruning along with poor air circulation and high humidity that leads to fungal disease. I hope to add more ventilation to my greenhouse also.

I am also growing some salad greens indoors again under my florescent grow lights and have lettuce and kale ready to harvest. I have been using a lot of kale lately and really like adding it to my recipes. The trick for cooking kale is to give it extra cooking time to become tender. I love cooked greens with bacon and vinegar. I also add finely chopped kale and broccoli to chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes then puree along with some half & half and shredded cheddar cheese for a great broccoli-kale cheddar soup.

I really enjoy having some fresh veggies in the middle of our long Alaska winters and I don't see why any serious gardener would stop growing food when the snow flies. The added color along with the light is a welcome bonus to our monotone winter landscape.