Sunday, January 27, 2013

No go on the parsley, struggling cilantro, and overachieving tomatoes: Day 26

A lot has happened since the last post, some of it good, some of it not-so-good.

There have been a couple "tips" from the AeroGarden Ultra. Some of them have been helpful, others not-so-helpful.

Here was the tip around Day 19:

"Don't thin seedlings! Let as many sprouts per pod grow as you can. This will lead to bigger harvests down the road"

This one was interesting. I'd always thought that you wanted to thin seedlings to 1-2 per pod so that plants wouldn't crowd each other out. But here, my Aerogarden is telling me to just let them all grow. I have found that no matter how many seeds start out in the pod, only 1-3 end up growing anyway in most cases, so maybe the plants naturally thin themselves out over time.

I saw another tip pop up shortly after on Day 23:

"Prune fast growing plants like basil so slow, low growers get enough light. Trim basil above a left joint when its 3-4 in. tall."

This was a pretty good tip. My basil was growing ridiculously fast, and I could totally see it making me have to riase the lights prematurely and/or block out light from the other plants. I snipped the basil and used the leaves to spice up some pasta that I happened to be cooking for lunch--my first meal hopefully of many.

The next tip on Day 24 said this:

"Try not to raise lights until slow and low growers are well established. Prune fast growers often and enjoy your first small harvest".

Okay, at this point the Aerogarden is starting to get a little repetitive. And here was the tip on Day 26:

"For instructional pruning videos and articles, search on Pruning at 1-800-476-9669

I get the feeling at this point that someone at AeroGrow really, really wants me to learn about pruning but can't fit it into the character limit of that little AeroGarden Ultra window.

In other news, the Whitefly Traps worked AMAZINGLY well. Not sure how well you can see it in this photo, but you can see that there are bunch of those little critters who met their demise by flying into that big yellow light. Since I put the paper up I haven't seen one whitefly on the leaves, but every day I see more on the paper (the squeamish among you might want to not click to zoom in).

Actually, even when zooming in it's hard to see, but looking at it in person I see a white fly graveyard with about 10-20 white flies.

Now for the not-so-good news. The parsley has gone well past its 21 day limit. Here's what the seed pod looked like when I finally lifted the plastic dome off.

It looks like the seeds never quite got started, or they grew a tiny bit but then grey moldy. 

Also, if you look carefully at the cilantro, you'll notice that it's struggling to stay alive as well. It started out well enough, but the roots are yellowing and the base is weakening.

Notice that the sage, too, is struggling to stay alive. Again, it started well enough but the steam just seems to be buckling due to the larger leaves on top. 

The oregano and thyme are growing very slowly, but seem to be doing okay so far. The basil, of course, is thriving.

I'll give it a couple more days and then will be reaching out to Aerogarden to ask for replacements for at least the cilantro and the parsley. We'll see about the sage and the others.

In other news, the tomato plants continue to grow well.

I'm actually curious as to what "tips" the Aerogarden Ultra would have given me had I grown in in that, but in lieu of having that, and against all my better instincts, I decided to follow the Aerogarden's manuals and trim the tall leaves above 4-5 branches.

I've been timid in the past about pruning too much of the Aerogarden tomatoes, which resulted in top-heavy plants. In this case, we'll see if pruning early results in super-strong roots and base stems. 

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