gabriola garden

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We Have a Lot to Discover About Plants!

20cm of snow in Saskatchewan! We’re luckier here on the West Coast, but despite the sunshine, the blustery winds feel like icicles when you leave your windbreaker open in front. Old Father Winter is not yet ready to recede into the background, and allow the Spring rejuvenation to proceed according to plan. And judging from the awe-inspiring cherry blossom, what a glorious Plan, it is!

We can’t complain too much, though, because Sara’s garden has a lot to be cheery about. Her tulips are magnificent, as usual, and the forget-me-nots have taken off like there’s no tomorrow. She’s got a bouquet of purple rhodos already in bloom, and some of our vegetables are braving the low, night-time temperatures rather nicely.

Indoors, under a number of semi-hydroponic grow light systems, multiple varieties of peppers and tomatoes are almost touching the fluorescent tubes. They cannot be moved outdoors, until the night temperature is above 10 Celsius consistently.

Sara and I entertain ourselves in the evenings reading some excellent gardening books. “The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food” is a 485-page tome that instructs expertly on how to grow 765 varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and nuts. It includes very helpful formulas and techniques that can be used to control over 200 pests and diseases organically. Written by Tanya L.K. Denckla, and published by Storey.

But the true learning comes from actually doing it. To see the whole process from the germination of the seed, to the struggling young seedlings, to nurturing them under grow lights until they’re ready to be planted outside in soil. We feed them half-strength Iguana Juice Grow at this point and they love this organic, fish-based food!

We can’t ever forget the basics. Plants, just like people, need food and water to strive. Wild plants get their nourishment from the air, rainwater, and soil. Their roots are able to absorb certain nutrients from these sources, the major elements being compounds of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, or NPK. Other important ones are Calcium and Magnesium.

Plants also need minimum daily intakes of micronutrients, and the process they use to manufacture their own nourishment from these elements is called photosynthesis. The energy for this process is supplied by sunlight (or grow lights indoors). The process results in carbohydrates or sugars that are then stored in the plant’s cells and help with growth and reproduction.

Plants also “breathe” regularly, they inhale carbon dioxide through their leaves, and exhale oxygen. This is the complete reverse of the human or animal breathing process. To complicate matters, they absorb not only water and nutrients through their roots, but also oxygen. Without these in place, plants will wither and die.

It’s fascinating to watch plants grow and thrive and much of the credit must go to Iguana Juice. We look upon it as the secret ingredient that results in many, many compliments that our visitors heap upon Sara’s well-kept garden beds and their contents.

posted by Tim at 5:31 PM | 1 comments