Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Full Update

First of all, for those of you who were following this blog, I want to apologize for the extreme lack of activity. Let me try to explain.

A couple of years ago, my ex and I split up. She took the kids and I went to live with a friend of mine. His house did not have anyplace to put any plants.

Well, that is not 100% true. I did have two plants in my bedroom window. Neither got very big because they were in plastic cups.

One was a tomato plant and the other was a pepper plant. The tomato plant ended up dying, but the pepper plant just kept growing straight up with very little side growth.

I had finally transplanted it into a three foot long by six inch wide by one foot deep concrete planter. I did not want to put it there, because the water meter was there, as was another plant already there. However, I did not have any choice.

The pepper plant did very well, but then the water company came and concreted in the water meter and they ended up encasing the base of the plant. Bye bye pepper plant.

Skip ahead to present day.

I currently live in a different house with a lot more room to plant and a lot of sunlight. I started a Facebook page for Green Thumb Gary and the updates all go there now. I am not saying that this page will die. I am just saying that I do not know if I will have the time to write full blog posts for this site. So, I encourage you all to move over to the Facebook site.

Also, I am in the process of completing a Green Thumb Gary YouTube channel. So, watch out for that.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Gardening update - September 19, 2016

The first thing I want to do is apologize for being so inactive over the last six months or so. I am pretty sure I posted this on Facebook, but here it is for those of you here.

Jenn and I had split up back in February and I moved in with a friend. Most of my plants went to Jenn's place and a lot of the seedlings went into the trash/compost bucket. I took a few here with me, but only two have survived and one of those is on its last leg, as well.

The two that I have now are a tomato plant (not sure which one) and a pepper plant. Both are in small plastic cups. The tomato plant has lost all of its leaves and is in its death throes.

I had a small basil cutting from the original basil plant, but that died for unknown reasons.

I had tomato plants in 2L Coke bottles, but those also died because I forgot to cut drainage holes and they drowned in a typhoon.

Simply put, most everything has died due to neglect as I focused my time and attention on rebuilding my life.

The plants at Jenn's house

As for the plants at Jenn's house, those are mostly dead, as well. I had asked that they water them, but obviously that was too much to ask and just about everything there died, as well.

I am planning to move into my own place soon and when I do I will restart my garden.

I have a drawer full of seeds that I have been collecting over time, so I should get a good headstart.

The grape experiment

A few months back we had purchased some grapes in the store. They were pretty big grapes and I saved a lot of seeds. I tried to sprout them, but with no luck. I found out later that the reason is because grape seeds need to go through a cold period before they will sprout.  In short, I should have put them in the fridge for a couple of months to simulate winter. Oh well. Lesson learned.

In conclusion

As I said, when I move into my own place I will restart my gardening efforts. So, there will be more to come. Just give me a few months to get there. Also, all those videos I took from before I split with Jenn, I will make an effort to get those uploaded to YouTube.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Growing Romaine Lettuce from seed

December 29, 2015

I was going stir crazy sitting in the house, so I took a ride to the mall. I didn't really need anything nor did I have an agenda. I was really just going to walk around and browse. As usual, I ended up in Ace Hardware. IMAGINE THAT!  I get there so infrequently that when I do go I tend to just look at every aisle. Naturally, I discovered the gardening aisle. Much to my chagrin it was not a gardening section. Oh well. So, I took a few minutes to look at all the products and when I turned to look at the products on the shelf behind me....BINGO!  Seeds!

At this point I want to add a bit of backstory. I have been looking for certain seeds for a while now. Lettuce seeds was definitely high up on that list. We don't exactly have too many nurseries in this area, so I was checking sites online. I was hesitant to buy from a Filipino online seed dealer because the prices were almost double what they should have been. Add in shipping and handling and you lost me as a customer.  So, when I saw lettuce on that hook, I immediately grabbed a pack.

I looked around a bit more and considered a few of the other seeds, but in the end the lettuce was the only seeds I bought.  I also bought some coconut coir to mix into my soil to loosen it up and to help it to hold moisture better. The last thing I purchased was a new spray bottle because my old one got broken. This turned out to be a blessing because the new one is bigger than the old one.

Getting back on topic, as I write this I realized I won't be planting these right away. I need to make some nitrogen rich compost first. Well, I guess technically I don't have to, but I would like to have it ready to go. Maybe I will do a test batch. Well, whatever I decide you can be assured that I will post updates.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Add calcium to your soil using egg shells

In 2009, Jenn really got into plants. It seemed like every time I came home from work there was a new plant in the house or out in front of it. Back then I was working so many hours that I was too tired to care or even get interested.  However, one thing I did notice is how she had some of her plants in pots with no soil. One day I stopped and looked and noticed the only thing in the pot was some charcoal and a few egg shells. I remember wondering how these plants were living in this stuff with no soil. As I said, at the time I was too tired to really care and so, I never bothered to ask her about it.

Well, looking back on that, I now understand why. The charcoal was actually biochar and the egg shells were for calcium. Basically, it was a slow release system that allowed the plants to pull nutrients slowly over time. Obviously, this is knowledge I learned relatively recently.

Something else I learned is if you pulverize the egg shells you can sprinkle them into the garden for a slightly faster release. You can also add them to your worm bin. Supposedly, this serves two purposes.
  1. It helps the worms with digestion. Worms, like chickens, have gizzards. So, the coarse material really helps their digestive system.
  2. It adds calcium to the worm castings. This one I am not too sure about, though. It's just what I heard, but it seems logical to me.

Preparing the egg shells

The first thing you want to do is open the egg. You can either hard boil them and peel them or just crack the egg and wash the shell out.In my opinion cracking them open raw and rinsing them out is the easiest way. Trust me. I learned that from experience. Trying to peel that inner membrane off the shell is not easy. You certainly do not want to leave the membrane on. You want just the shells. Nothing else.

Once you've got the shells separated from the egg toss them in the microwave for a couple of minutes to kill the bacteria and micro organisms inside the egg. I usually do 2-3 minutes, but your microwave will probably differ from mine based on power settings.  The way you can tell they are done is when you start hearing popping sounds coming from the microwave. Just open the door and don't stand too close. The fumes that will escape will make your eyes tear and I mean that literally.

Another option is to boil the shells, but I found the microwave to be easier and faster.

 How to pulverize the egg shells

Most YouTube gardeners will recommend using a coffee grinder to get the egg shells down to a fine powder. The problem is I do not drink coffee and even if I did I do not have the money to buy a coffee grinder.

So, I got creative. I put the shells into a plastic bag and took them outside to the curb.  I used a hammer to smash them into some pretty small pieces. Obviously, I was not able to get a fine powder, but I got pretty darn close. The nice thing was, the bag ripped just a tad in a few places which made sprinkling the shells just that much easier.

Helpful Tip:
This method works equally well on biochar if you want it in a fine powder form.

Friday, December 18, 2015


My vermicomposting efforts used to be comprised of two separate projects. The first was a single worm in its own bin. The object of the project was to see how much material a single worm could process on its own and how much worm castings it would create. The results were impressive, but unfortunately I recently discovered the worm had died. I don't know why, but it did. I guess maybe old age. Anyway, I decided to close down the project.

The other project was a more traditional vermicomposting undertaking. It consisted of multiple worms in a single bin, which I had dubbed: The Breeding Bin. I had included the updates for the breeding bin in the article about the Single Worm Vermicomposting Project.  Since that project is now closed down, I felt it would be prudent to start a new article.

The rest of the updates for this project are located in The Single Worm Vermicomposting Project.

UPDATE: December 18, 2015

It's been raining for a few days, due to a typhoon, so the compost in the garden bed outside has been getting drenched pretty good. I trimmed the two bush/trees out there and put the leafy branches over the beds to try to keep them from getting saturated.

Today has been pretty dry, so when I went out there this afternoon to turn the soil/compost I discovered a baby worm. I went inside and got my breeding bin and tossed the baby in. I quickly found another and then an adult. As I worked my way through the bed I found one or two more babies and a second adult. I've lost track of how many I have in the breeding bin now, but it has to be close to ten, if not more.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Miracle Seedling

Well, this one is kind of interesting. I was sitting here going through pictures and videos, renaming and organizing them, when I noticed a picture I took of a seedling growing wild in the garden. Now, the only reason I really noticed the picture was because I had accidentally lumped it in with the pictures of the turnip I am trying to regrow from a store bought turnip.  I realized it did not belong there and figured I better move it out. Then it dawned on me. Where do I move this picture to? I do not have a folder for this. So, where do I move this picture?

That is when it dawned on me. DING!  Hey genius! This is a new project. It is interesting because it is a miracle plant.

I know. I know. What am I talking about, right? A miracle plant?

Well, one of our earlier projects, which is still undocumented, was growing papaya from the seeds harvested from a store bought papaya. For those of you who have never cut into a papaya, it has A LOT OF SEEDS!!!  As a result, we ended up with a lot of seedlings.  As with anything else, some of them did better than others. The ones that looked weak I pulled out of the dirt and tossed out the window. I also ended up with a lot of seeds that failed to germinate.  More than a few of those also got tossed out the window.  90% of what goes out that front window ends up in the garden bed, so it stands to reason that either a seed or a seedling that I tossed out the window decided to take root and grow.  Oddly enough not only did it grow, but it looks better than most of the papaya seedlings I kept. Go figure.  Well, that was my original line of thought.

Now, I took this picture a day or two ago (Nov. 28, 2015), but it did not dawn on me, until just now, how interesting this is.  A seed or seedling that was tossed out the window and happened to take root and thrive.  That's pretty cool.

When you look at this picture you will notice three leaves. Two of them are larger and rounded. The third leaf (smaller) is kind of jagged. I can't figure that out.  Actually, looking at this picture now, I am not even sure if this is a papaya. How funny is that?!?!?!

Looking at the leaves and comparing it to the papaya seedlings I have outside, this seedling doesn't even resemble the other papaya seedlings.

Close up image of some papaya seedlings
However, in this next picture you can see that some of the leaves are indeed rounded.

You can clearly see some of the leaves are rounded.

I know they start off rounded and then, I guess, the new growth is pointed?

At any rate, I will keep an eye on the Miracle Seedling to see what it becomes.

UPDATE: December  2, 2015

I went outside this morning to water a few plants and do some other maintenance when I noticed there is a new leaf. I guess this settles it. It is definitely a Papaya Seedling.

The Miracle Seedling sporting a new leaf

What gets me is how much bigger and healthier this plant is compared to the ones growing indoors. Although, I guess I shouldn't be shocked. The ones I grew indoors got very leggy and are still recovering. The indoor seedlings put out a lot of leaves, but they are nowhere near as big or as vibrant as the Miracle Seedling's.

UPDATE: December  4, 2015

Not much to tell, but I wanted to show you some new growth. In the picture from two days ago you can just barely see a new leaf coming in at the center. Well, it has really developed now. Check out the picture.

There is another seedling that also took root. However, this second one is a leggy one I threw out the window. It's still pretty leggy and not looking too great. That's why I think the miracle seedling is from a seed I threw out the window.

UPDATE: December 8, 2015

Well, I was outside today turning the compost in the garden bed and watering a few things. I go to water the Miracle Seedling and BAM! Look how big that new leaf got!!!  It's huge!

I don't know if you can see it in this picture, but there is another new leaf growing right in the center. You will have to click on the picture to make it full screen if you want to see it.

UPDATE: December 20, 2015

December 10, 2015

December 16, 2015
December 17, 2015 (Top View)

December 17, 2015 (Side View)
December 20, 2015 (Top View)

December 20, 2015 (Side View)
December 20, 2015 (Side View)

UPDATE: December 25, 2015

Since I have some time today I figured I would do an update. Anyway, the miracle seedling is DEFINITELY a papaya and I transplanted it into a pot. The reason I did this is because it was starting to grow horizontally reaching for the sun it would never find. There is just way too much shade in front of my house.

So, what I have been doing is in the morning I move it to the roof pad and then I bring it back in just before sundown. I would love to leave it out there all night, but it is very windy up there and I am afraid of what will happen to it if I leave it up there indefinitely. So, until it gets stronger I am going to keep doing this.  Anyway, here are some more pictures.


UPDATE: January 4, 2016

Since I moved the Miracle Seedling into a pot and started putting it into direct sunlight, it has really exploded with growth.  The stalk has gotten thicker and the leaves have gotten bigger and more numerous.

The only problem with this is the leaves have gotten so big and there are so many that the stalk is having trouble supporting them all. I think part of the problem is the fact that the stalk grew at such an odd angle. Anyway, I have been very hesitant about putting it up on the roof pad for sun. The wind is just way too strong up there. So, I am going to have to build some kind of a support system before I put it up there again.

One odd thing about this plant is that there are these weird strings growing out of the top of the plant. You can see them clearly in the pictures (below). If anyone knows what these are, let me know.

UPDATE: January 8, 2016 - A shocking development

Over the past two days I have had two different Filipinos tell me that the miracle seedling is not papaya. The first guy said it is squash. I knew that was wrong. I haven't seen squash in my house in a very long time and it isn't exactly something people walk by eating as a snack and toss seeds from willy nilly.

Early this afternoon, a lady says it is "pipino" (Filipino for cucumber). I was getting mad and told them both,

"I know what it is because I am the one who pulled the seeds out of the papaya and planted it."

Looking at it later on I started to wonder again about those tendril looking things. Why do they curl like that?  Why do the leaves on this plant look so much different from the other ones? Why is the stem so skinny and weak and growing in odd angles and not upward like a tree should?  Why does it look like a......A VINE!  Wait a minute!

Could she have been right? I thought about it for a second? This is the miracle seedling. I do not actually know what seed this came from, do I? I never planted this. It grew on its own. I had thought it was a papaya seed I tossed out the window, but what if it is from the cucumber I threw out there to rot in the compost?

The New Miracle Seedling

Apparently, growing outside in the garden bed is a better idea than trying to do them in a more controlled environment. A second seedling has sprouted.  It came up next to the leek. You can just barely see it in the picture above. There are some better pictures below.

December 16, 2015

December 20, 2015
December 20, 2015

My plan is to let this one grow and see if it gets to be as big and healthy as the first Miracle Seedling. If so, then I will transplant it into a pot. If not, then I will pull it up. One thing I am concerned with is the fact that it is so close to the leek.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Single Worm Vermicomposting Project

I want to start off by saying that if you want to read the full story behind the single worm vermicomposting project, then you have to visit my personal website.  Due to SEO concerns I can not just move the whole article here.

Brief Overview

We have two vermicomposting bins. The first worm bin has a single worm in it and I did it as an experiment. I wanted to see just how much material a single worm could process into worm castings and just how fast it would do the job. I have to say, I was impressed with the results.

As I said, I wanted to start a second bin as a breeding bin. I'd love to see how quickly I can get two worms to reproduce into a thriving colony. There is a lot that I have learned throughout the first experiment and I look forward to learning more and refining my methods.

UPDATE: November 28, 2015

Well, I either lost a worm from the second bin, or he is really good at camouflage.  As of now, both bins have a lot of castings.  The problem is there is also a ton of unprocessed material in both. Unfortunately, I don't have a screen sifter.

One piece of good news is that I found a couple of baby worms outside. I brought them in and put them into a third (smaller) container hoping they grow a bit. I am hesitant to put them into either of the big bins because I don't want to accidentally harvest them with the castings.

UPDATE: November 30, 2015

Yesterday, I had checked on the worm bin. It looks to be doing pretty well. There is still a bunch of cardboard strips and even a sliver or two of the writing paper I had added in a week or two ago to soak up some excess water that was in there after some rain. I guess the moisture built up inside the bin. Anyway, I still can't find the second worm from the other bin, so I guess I have two single worm bins now.   I considered combining them to try to get them to reproduce, but when I found the baby worms I didn't see the point.

Baby worms? What baby worms?

Well, I guess the babies ran for the hills, as well. I got busy and forgot to check on them for a couple of days. When I checked it yesterday the dirt was dried out and both babies were nowhere to be found.  Oh well. Maybe, I should combine the two bins into one.

UPDATE: December 1, 2015

Today, I decided to harvest the worm castings.  I wasn't planning on doing this, but I had decided to up-plant a few of my pepper seedlings and I ran out of castings. So, I took about an hour or an hour and a half to separate the castings from the rest of the material in the bin. I had to do this by hand (literally) because I don't have a screen.  I have been planning to build one, but the only screen I have doesn't have big enough holes. I haven't had the time or the money to go buy the proper size screen, much less buy or go looking for the wood to build the screen frame.

At any rate, I am glad I did it by hand. If I had not I would never have noticed the 5 or 6 baby worms in the bin. After what I saw yesterday, I was extremely happy to find them in there.  I will be uploading the video soon, hopefully.

CLOSED: December 18, 2015

Well, I have no idea why the single worm died, but he did. There is absolutely no reason I can think of for why. The soil was moist, but not too wet. There was a decent amount of food and I even put some pulverized egg shell in there to help with his digestion. (Worms have gizzards.)

Whatever the reason, he is gone and I am closing down this project. All future updates about the breeding bin can be found in the new article titled: Vermicomposting