Propagation: My First Attempt

If you live in Oregon then you know we just experienced the driest two weeks in May on record for the last 20 years!  This was a gardener’s spring dream come true.  It gave me enough dry days to get several delayed projects started and completed.  Finally, on Monday we got some well needed rain, and it’s been pouring off and on ever since.  Everything was already starting to dry out, so I was happy to get some much needed rain water for my new plantings.  Unless I’m forced indoors by rain showers, I won’t make the time to sit down at my computer and get some posts written either, so it was a welcome change.   Plus, I needed to rest this aching body of mine!

I wanted to get a post up that showed the progress I was making with propagation in my new greenhouse.  When I first started this project, I wasn’t sure how things would go.  In the past, every time I tried propagating a few plants inside my house they would always sprout up too fast and keel over.   In the greenhouse they have done great!  I’m kind of a fatalist, so whenever something works out I’m very surprised, especially due to the fact that I don’t always read up much on what I’m doing before I get started.  I’ve wasted time and money doing things this way, but I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes too.

If you’ve looked at my previous posts describing my new green house, then you know that I wasn’t so happy with the construction since it turned out not to be durable enough for the snow, and it didn’t withstand the wind before I had it staked down properly.  Now, however, it’s served its purpose well, and after I made a few modifications (a later post) I was very happy with it.  One thing I now know is that I NEED A BIGGER GREENHOUSE, because propagating your own plants is really fun and satisfying and I want to do a lot more growing inside a larger greenhouse.

Obviously, a green house is not a money saver initially, but that’s not why most people put up a greenhouse anyway.    It would take years to pay for itself for what one can save in the cost of seedlings & starts.   Still, I’ve planted around 70 of my own starts so far, so if I would have paid almost $1.00 per start that would already be $70.00.  Of course you have to take off the $50.00 of expensive starter mix that I bought, as well as the packets of seed, so even with those numbers I would say that I have not had to spend that much extra to propagate my own vegetables and flowers, excluding the cost of the $99.00 greenhouse, of course.  Later when I don’t have to go shop for my veggies and pay for gas I’ll save even more.  Next year it will be cheaper if I can avoid buying so much starter mix, and if I can use the remaining seed from the 2011 packets.   I also saved on the initial start up costs by not investing in any kind of pots, trays or bottom heaters.  The bottom tray heaters proved not to be necessary, and thanks goodness I had saved all those pots & makeshift trays over the years.

In all honesty, most people I know don’t grow their own food to save money.   For me it’s mostly about sustainability, health, preparedness, and doing what I love.  If I ever do manage to save any money doing this then great!  If not, that’s fine too.  At least I know the food I eat from my garden is healthier, and I’m decreasing my carbon footprint.

The first photo above shows where my green house finally ended up.  I feel like that was just the right location for it, and it’s very likely I’ll build a bigger greenhouse there later that can withstand the different weather conditions and give me more room to play inside.  #2 photo is of my cruciferous plants, #3 photo is of the Fava beans. #4 photo is of the Boston pickling and Cypress Cucumbers. #5 photo is of some of the tomatoes.  #6 photo is of some of the dry bush beans. #7 photo is of my hot peppers; Cayenne, Thai, Jalapenos, Sweet banana, Anaheim and Anchos.  It took forever for those to propagate, and of all the Anchos I planted, only one came up.  Go figure! The oblong tray with the 72 holders worked out fine for my cruciferous vegetables: the broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, and green cabbage.  I probably should have kept them inside the greenhouse a little longer, but I was eager to get them into my freshly tilled area out back, especially since I was so behind.  Next year I’ll plant them in larger pots as well since I only have room for about 8 of each anyway.  Since these are supposed to be cool weather vegetables, I’m still not sure how they will do being planted at this late date, but I had no choice since I didn’t have the area ready yet.

The variety of beans I propagated produced confusing results.  Interestingly, the two heirloom varieties that I planted last year, the “ Black Turtle Dry Bush Bean”  & “Peregion Bry Bush Bean”, germinated really well, while the other varieties I bought from a local bean grower just didn’t want to germinate.  These three varieties were “King of the Early”, “Vermont Cranberry” and “Rio Zape” .   Maybe I watered to much or too little.  Who knows?  At any rate, I am going to plant those seeds directly into the soil next week as soon as I get that area dug up and tilled.  Maybe they’ll do better then.  I couldn’t even find Kidney Beans at any of the garden stores in town, so I bought a bag at the grocery store.  They germinated quickly, but I don’t even know if they will produce any beans, and for all I know they’re genetically modified.  If that’s the case, then I’m in trouble.  But hey, when the foods we eat aren’t even labelled, who’s to know!

The Fava beans, the Giant Windsor, took off like no body’s business.  I will need to save my own seeds next year for sure, because you get so few beans in one seed bag at the store, and I absolutely want to grow more Fava beans next year.  They are so yummy in salads or just steamed with butter & garlic, and they make really good hummus dips too.

My tomatoes are also doing great.  The biggest mistake I made with them this year is that I didn’t plant the seeds into smaller pots and then thin them out later. This week I’m trying to transplant the multiple number of little starts from the bigger pots into smaller pots to accommodate just one tomato plant per pot.  This is very traumatic for the plant and can set it back, so I won’t make that mistake next year.   I’m keeping them in my greenhouse for a couple more weeks just to keep them warmer and growing until the ground gets warmer outside.

In addition to the vegetable starts I show in the photos, I’ve also propagated eggplant, a variety of squash, sunflowers, okra, lima beans, brusselsprouts, and a few other varieties.  It may be too late now, but as soon as I’ve got the time I’ll try propagating herbs and flowers as well.  Gotta finish getting the new beds ready and then get these plants into the ground first!  When things slow down I’ll try to record everything I’ve done to help me with next year’s propagation so I won’t make so many mistakes.




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1 Comment to Propagation: My First Attempt

  1. September 15, 2014 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    There’s definately a lot to find out about this topic.
    I really like all the points you have made.

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