Monday, December 8, 2008

getting a bargain


while i admit, i have been very busy at work lately, and my kitchen has been under some construction, i should share with you a great holiday item that we have been developing; its called the power plant pro and it's our 'new kid' on the block.

it's a completely 'open' system, whereby you can plant any type of seed into the individual pods on the top surface of the power plant (there are 6 pods). Burpee currently has a great site for ordering seeds at this time of year, (prepara also offer a gourmet herb seed collection). i'd recommend keeping the plant under 2 feet tall!...otherwise they'll do what my chilli and lettuce did and crowd out the others.

how does it work?
fill it with the supplied super nutrient (enough nutrient for a lot of fun..possibly a year or more of growing), plug it in and off it goes!..the really cool part is that the patented top grow surface rotates, very slowly-once every twenty minutes...this is hardly noticeable at first, but is so cool when your plants start to grow, it's very kinetic...plus it serves a very real purpose of allowing sunlight to hit all the pods without the need for a lamp, if you have a really sunny spot.
however you can fit the lamp easily under the base...and boy, it looks fantastic...smaller footprint, neater and more stylish than any other on the market.

check out the photo...shown with it is the herb savor, proven (lab tested) to keep your herbs fresh for over 3 weeks..why waste them!

Monday, November 17, 2008

chili on the way!


as you know i've been running all sorts of plants through my power plants, both the mini and the pro.
one of my earlier tests was cited here with mixed leaf salad and a chili plant.
well, here is the result so far...very promising, there's actually a couple of flowers starting and i believe that means there'll be a chili or two soon!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

a new batch of basil


i've been travelling a lot lately again!..sorry for the tardiness.

as we move into the holidays i thought i'd replant in preparas new power plant pro.
of course my dream is to have freshly grown basil all the time to hand, and in this dark, chilly, wet november climate the indoor power plant really delivers...if you're also stuck in a dark spot- don't forget to get the grow lamp too! (my current hot tip is to buy from brookstone.com ..who carry the lamp for an amazing price- that won't be repeated after that batch sells through!...and the lamp is made to fit both the pro and the mini, also can be used for propagating your other seeds come springtime)

i loaded the power plant pro with sweet italian basil from burpee, you can see the sprouts are doing well and i expect to start pinching them back early next week.
the seeds only cost me a couple of bucks and there's hundreds!!!...no expensive system needed...i'm sure the one pack will keep me in basil for a couple of years!

hope everyone, even remotely interested in growing, gets a chance to try one of these power plants- whether its the mini or the pro....even absolute novices, which btw my daughter is 4-and definitely a novice gardener- i read her the instructions, she followed along...she is very excited to plant and see the seeds grow...and she cant believe she can eat the produce...it's very rewarding.

i'll post more images as they sprout upwards

the mini is available online-prepara.com and at target.com, cooking.com, amazon.com, bedbathandbeyond.com
the pro is just being rolled out and so far just at brookstone.com until next month

Friday, October 24, 2008

uncontrollable sprouts!


i've got to eat them all now!

here's an update to the seed types i promised earlier;
the sprouts were part of a 5 part salad mix containing organic;
alfalfa, radish, mung bean, lentil and broccoli...truly a high fiber salad!

here's another picture, as you can see they've begun to aggressively attack my power plant pro!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

experimenting further with sprouts etc.




i received an interesting pack of mixed sprouts and couldn't wait to try it...i planted them on wednesday last week and within a very short time they were flying out of the power plant mini.

sprouts are so good for you, healthy and tasty..how cool.
i scattered the seeds on top of a moistened sponge. i then covered the seeds...and really they were just sitting on top of the sponge, all shapes and sizes. i left them in the dark for 2 days and then lifted up the cover. my next step was to pour some more water over them, just enough to keep the sponge moist, i did it delicately because i didn't want to wash the 'loose' seeds away.

then they went for it!...as you can see very healthy, i should have cropped them by now, but wanted to see how tall they'd get...i tasted a few and although they look essentially the same..long and lanky, they all tasted exceptionally different.
i'll post the mix, but i'm sure one was a very strong spiciness...it took me a while to get over it!

on another note the power plant pro on test- is growing crazily well...the mixed salad took over in a fight with the chili plant..nice

btw...check out the first retailer to carry the power plant pro and the power grow lamp...it's Brookstone..the lamp is an absolute steal at the moment..it's awesome for all types of plants and great for propagating, it fits snugly with both the pro and the mini...the price of the lamp will never be that low again! take my word, it's a great combo, lamp and pro...you just need the seed and the imagination!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

working hard on new product

hello, it's been a while!
the test mint has been growing slowly but surely...however i took receipt of the new power plant pro and lamp combination...wow!
i planted a whole host of different seeds from Burpee and they took off!...i soon realised that my enthusiasm for growing new and interesting plants was tempered by the differing growth rates of the plants. therefore i have huge mesculin salad and chili peppers next to tiny oregano..the others all exhibited a darwinian need to occupy the light...something to be mindful of when growing my next batch.
the mesculin grew crazily fast, i'll post the pics soon.

keep an eye on my blog and i'll posting some of the wonderful images.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

ooops and the end of pistou






it's been a while since i last wrote.
some exciting things have happened in the meantime.
firstly though, you'll see i cut the pistou basil down. i'm going to make pesto, this time with the pine nuts and romano cheese. yum
you can see from the photos how well rooted the basil was. the Pistou basil although pungent in aroma, never really provided the same taste quotient as the previously grown basils, so it wasn't with any regret that it got axed.
i hope it'll be ok in the pesto, but then with good cheese and olive oil, i'm sure it'll work out just fine?
from the photo you'll see that cropping the basil gave me a huge amount of plant for such a small growing device.

in the meantime, i replanted the mint...having discovered i had accidently started another basil power planting!
the mint seeds are minute...so small it was impossible to put them in the sponge slit...so they got sprinkled all over the sponge surface too. the sponge holes welcomed the seeds and you can see the mint has started to grow...it's always so exciting to see new plantings appear...it's very fulfilling.
at first i was clucking when i hadn't seen instant results...i guess i'm used to everything happening immediately around my time zone...but plants...they have there own clock!
so the seeds were planted friday and the photo was taken today..7 days for germination.

since last writing, i'm now pleased to announce that prepara will now be working alongside burpee seeds to sell their seeds and hopefully the arrangement will grow into something special with new products and services being offered to power plant indoor gardeners.

btw
here are some questions from a power planter about cleaning her power plant mini;

Q. can the reservoir base be taken apart for cleaning? it would be easier for cleaning if this were possible. after my last wonderful crop of basil, some of the roots were difficult to get off the bottom.

A. pull hard on the sprayer pipe to disconnect it from the pump. (it’s very robust you won't break it)
once apart, you can take the basket out and if you want you will be able to reach to the bottom for cleaning. also you can unscrew the two screws holding the pump bracket in place and give that a clean too


Q. it also said in the instructions to clean the sprayer with a cotton swab and i am confused how this is done. it seems to be attached except for the 2 end caps and it would be hard to get a cotton swab in it that way.

A. once disassembled you can lever the caps off and also clean the middle pipe too

Q. is clorox bleach ok as the 10% bleach solution to clean it with?

A. yes, very dilute, even less than that is ok too.
if you were being a neat freak you could run it thro the pump too!!!
just remember to flush/rinse away any bleachy mix...don’t leave any residue in there!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

reaching for the sky



here's a picture of the mint reaching out from the sponge. they look happy...!

you can see the basil behind, i used some in a cocktail mix yesterday, the weather is perfect at the moment, 80 degrees. i muddled (mashed) the basil with some ice, vodka and a cranberry mix i bought from William Sonoma, based on some legendary cocktail made at the gramercy tavern in NYC...it was refreshing, the perfect end of summer drink.

Friday, August 29, 2008

at last...i planted the mint



here are a few images of the basil pistou growing happily and healthily in my kitchen. she has continually sprouted new leaves and unlike the other basil i've grown, she doesn't seem to need paring back....she just grows up a little and sprouts loads of new leaves...she really is a bushy plant.

you'll also see alongside the power plant- my mint. i planted this morning, only took a few minutes, so keep checking back, as i'll be updating the site regularly.

for those of you 'in the know' prepara just upgraded the nutrient for the power plant series..this new stuff is awesome...they sell it at their site...enough for a couple of years growing.
(if your power plant came with the very early yellow nutrient you'll now find the new green stuff to be like steroids for your plants!!...they love it....and its natural and the stuff has won awards from the hydroponic gardening industry - FYI all the recent shipments of powerplant had already been upgraded to the new stuff...it's just the yellow nutrient that is the old stuff)

Friday, August 15, 2008

time to start harvesting




i took a weeks vacation, and as you'll see from the photos my basil didn't miss me one bit!
i changed out her nutrient for a fresh batch and filled her up before i left.

the small leaves are very aromatic, i sprinkled some on my salmon yesterday, not only pretty but flavorful too.

next up for growing in my other power plant is mint. I love mint, great for cocktails!

i'll start a catalog of images as i grow them.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

how does your garden grow?

recently i've heard a few people mention the need for a timer with the power plant, however, this was based upon old instructions included with the packaging.
the laboratory technicians at prepara discovered the power plant mini actually runs better when left on full time...no need for the timer!


and btw, running it full time should be a quiet and tranquil experience-sounding very much like a faraway trickling stream.

a New plant to try!
i thought i'd include a video here of a very interesting plant we grew....it's incredible and so much fun!!!!
it's called a 'sensitive' plant (mimosa pudica) and you can see why...it didn't take long to grow, possibly 5 weeks to this point.
we just planted the seeds and plugged the power plant mini in and left her to grow
you can see a more formal description here on Wikipedia
video

Sunday, July 27, 2008

mystery-to be solved?




ok, so here are the leaves on the 'mystery plant,' a little more developed...can you guess what it is yet? (in the first two pictures)
i cant be sure what will happen with it, but i'll keep the blog upto date with it's developments.

also, the pistou is making great headway now...the leaves are doubling up and in a few more days i'll be pinching them back to encourage bushier growth.

oh, and btw have you checked out the demo video at;

http://www.prepara.com/power_plant.php


it shows how quick these prepara power plant minis are to set up.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pistou forming up




here are some images of the two prepara power plant minis i have in my kitchen.
the basil pistou has just grown some real leaves, they're tiny, but perfectly formed, they look like mini versions of the pictures on the seed packet.
i have a small crop at one end of the sponge area, the other seeds sprouted along the length but not as successfully as this small bunch.

here's an interesting fact i learned;
each packet of seed sold by a manufacturer actually has a propagation success rate (i.e. 95% etc) this success rate will also vary by type...so a basil pistou sold by X may be more likely to grow than that sold by manufacturer Y!....so don't buy cheap seed...thats the only logic i can see

i'm fascinated by the growth of secret experiment, theyre drinking alot and they are getting real bushy...hopefully they'll continue on with some more 'root' growth. i think there's too many along the sponge, but i didnt want to start paring them back yet, as my daughter loves brushing her fingers over them...she knows it helps them grow!

Friday, July 18, 2008

creeping up



my little experiment is showing really well so far, i have absolutely no idea how they'll develop but i am really excited to see such progress.
the pistou is popping up too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

basil pistou...and a surprise guest!




i finally got some time to set up the new crop.
my daughter dutifully helped mix up the nutrient. we rinsed the sponge, first under some running water. we placed the sponge back, in the correct orientation, and placed the seeds along the inside of the grow sponge slit. we dribbled mixed nutrient along the seed slit and filled up the reservoir with the mixed nutrient. and Voila we turned her on and that was saturday.

it's now wednesday and there's been some nice developments, as you can see. i placed the humidadomes over the sprouting seeds, to help concentrate the humidity, light and heat.

we are trying Basil Pistou seeds from Burpee. the seed packet says it's a small leaf basil, grows abundantly and is commonly used for pesto in France...cant wait to see its beautiful leaves.

i will admit that the second power plant mini has something very unusual in it (the last picture)...and i'll continue to keep the blog updated with photos of it....and you'll just have to keep coming back to see what it might develop into!

so far its been an absolute joy running the power plants, especially the level of care i feel for these developing plants, right in front of my eyes. every day i get to see a little more development and my daughter still grabs the kitchen stool to take a peep at 'her' plants.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

the last days of this basil crop



after resting the basil for the weekend, i was glad to see how well the leaves had grown,
the thai basil had grown really large!

as you may have gathered,  i've been raving about my power plant mini's basil success and how well its been doing, so i was asked to submit it to the designers at prepara. they made short work of integrating it into a photo shoot for some new packaging designs. 
tomorrow i hope it'll still be healthy enough to accompany a pizza!

at home, my daughter and i will be testing some new basil type... called Pistou, a small leaved french basil
i'll keep you posted


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

letting its 'hair' grow!

i decided, after the last basil batch was eaten, to leave her alone and see how she develops in the next few days / week. to date, she has never been allowed to grow out much...i just cant help adding basil to all my foods...my wife thinks i've gone basil crazy...well...just maybe a bit
i'll add some photos next.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

another crop coming!




here they are...both plants are looking very healthy, they've been picked over a number of times and now they've fully sprouted back, full and fresh.

Friday, June 20, 2008

freshening her up





i tipped out the old nutrient today, its certainly not wasted as you'll see...the flowers in our window box love me for it.
as i've mentioned before, it's important every now and then to completely put a fresh batch of nutrient solution in the power plant. after all, over time, even with top ups the pH value will change and the nutrient concentration gets out of balance as the roots grow and shed old matter.

on another note
the power plant basil got plucked again yesterday, as we put basil all over a salad...very tasty, i'm really getting to like the liquorice taste of the siam thai basil.
and all this plucking is encouraging the growth of newer fresh leaves, shes really starting to grow nicely now, not too leggy, nice and bushy, i'll have to try and let her grow a bit more to show you what i mean

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

the power plants new look




so the basil has started to get some real attention from my family, i'm looking like a real gardening guru...'oh, and here's my latest crop of basil...all green and leafy!'...it's very funny, i can now discuss the merits of sweet basil to that of thai basil.

this morning my daughter asked if she could put a sticker on the power plant..of course you can...and bam- not 5 minutes later the product is now covered in stickers!!!...i guess she feels some ownership too..

Friday, June 13, 2008

full of flavors...but not mixed!


since the basil was trimmed there's been a lot of newer bushier growth.
the leaves are growing in tighter groups, i'll likely use some again this weekend, it'll be the 3rd crop.

in this crop you'll see i planted siam basil in one half (the pointy leaves) and italian sweet basil in the other.
however, now i wish i'd just done one varietal.
both are delicious, but they are so different in flavor.

the siam is truly the same fragrance and flavor as that found in thai food. it has an especially strong liquorice taste and reminded me very much of my favorite pad thai dish..yum yum

the sweet basil is great for pizza and pesto, much less pungent!

talking of which;
i thought i'd share my latest pesto mix
the 'power plant pesto' great for spreading on sandwiches-panini anyone?, especially with tomatoes and mozzarella

heres my recipe for a small qty;
take 1-2 cup of leaves- tightly packed
2 tablespoons of roasted marcona almonds (i've been heating some marcona nuts my wife bought at costco ...salted....add them into a pan with a dash of olive oil and stir regularly until they brown...you'll probably need to do twice as many, cos when you taste them -they are out of this world!)
2 tablespoons of grated parmesan
1 small garlic clove-peeled
half tablespoon lemon juice-or lime juice
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin oil

combine ingredients of; basil, nuts, cheese, garlic, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of water, season with salt and pepper in a small blender...i use a stick blender. Puree until you make a paste (you could use a mortar and pestle with such a small qty of pesto...the old way!)
add in portions of the olive oil, just enough until the paste becomes a smooth buttery texture...good for spreading.

Monday, June 9, 2008

delicious basil




here we are plucking the early first leaves, it's also part of the pinching process.
my daughter is pretty handy with the scissors!...she'd have chopped the whole crop down had i not intervened.

Friday, June 6, 2008

a small floaty ball

just thought i'd write about something i noticed with my power plant...and i must say it's specific to the one i'm using...when i filled her up with nutrient, i noticed the floaty ball used for the gauge wasn't moving...so i tapped the power plant with a spoon i had nearby...and voila the ball floated up!...i think the ball is so light that there must have been a little 'stiction' when i emptied the container, before i transported her home yesterday.

on that note, i also noticed this morning that she sounded a little noisier than her normal waterfall serenity ...so again, with the spoon, i tapped the side and voila... again she's running whisper quietly again.

also to note- again no timer is used on my power plant.

taking the trip home

after a couple of weeks spent in my office i packed up the power plant in a box (emptied the nutrient out) and put it in my back pack.
my commute lasted for over 2 hours!...luckily for the basil there was still moisture in the sponge and so once i brought her home and refilled she looked healthy and unfussed.

i found the seed packets, at last.
the pointy leaved basil is Thai Siam Queen...it says its 'delicious sweet and spicy flavor. very aromatic leaves: licorice basil aroma'
the other half of the power plant is set with Basil -Large leaved Italian

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

making a bushier basil plant





in order to create a bushier basil plant, you'll need to pinch them back...seems drastic when they look so healthy, but in the long run you'll see a much happier fuller plant.
chances are that the basil will stretch too tall if this isn't done early on.

here are the pictures of the top leaves being nipped.
i'd advise having clean nails or snips for this as plants can also be affected by germs from dirty fingers and tools (especially young plants)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

leaf shapes


the basil leaves are taking shape, when i find the seed pkts i'll describe the exact types.
but you can see the pointy leaves of one varietal.

we've been enjoying hot, sunny weather, the thing to remember is to allow good circulation of air around the plant, not too difficult with the doors and windows open!
however, keep a look out for bugs and mites that will be looking to spoil your crop.

also, the plants like heat and humidity, just not dry, hotness, so you might want to spritz the leaves to help keep them moist especially if the power plant lives on a super hot window sill.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

new leaves


here you can see the clear difference between the two types of Basil planted into the grow sponge.
(and yes i still need to find those seed bags to tell you what's in there)
needless to say they look like they're maturing nicely
enjoy the photo