Archive for the ‘Starting Seeds’ Category
Do not transplant tomato plants on windy days. It does not matter that you are anxious to get things in the ground, or that the tomato plants are getting too large to fit under the grow lights or seedling pots.
Last week I finished my boulevard melon patch, which is nice because this senorita is running out of steam. And I use the word “melon” to include gourds, because I’m too lazy to type “melon and gourd” patch. nevermind.
The black strip is composted manure. Since I didn’t have the energy to dig more than one planting bed, I’m hoping the compost will be rich enough to sustain the four or five gourds. *sigh* maybe I should dig another bed. You’ve convinced me.
I didn’t realize that the generic light-colored mulch that I was using was not pine bark…so when I bought a bag of pine bark down the street and opened it to find a rich, dark brown bark, I was a bit surprised. If I were more creative and had the time and ambition I might make the two-shades of mulch into a funky design. But I don’t. I tell you, juggling the day job, running home to garden, researching gardening, eating, and hoping to find some time to blog about the gardening is really wearing on me. So thank goodness my conversion is basically FINI.
I still have to figure out where to put three tomato plants that I just don’t have the stomach to not include. Maybe I’ll sneak a couple on the boulevard…
I just realized I don’t know what the new leaves look like for hops plants…but there appears to be a vine-ish plant poking out around where I planted the Cascade hops rhizome (in case you aren’t familiar with the current technologies, the white stick in the picture is my GPS locator). After perusing some Google images of hops leaves, I am current assuming that, yes, this plant is, indeed, hops. So I am feeling cautiously celebratory.
It’s much to early in the season to have had three fails already, but somehow I managed to do it. I definitely didn’t expect that my okra and watermelon experiments would make it – these are plants that need to be planted in June when our
lovely pain-in-the-ass Zone 4 is most amenable to them – but I am a little surprised that my grape plant did not make it through the last week of very cold weather. I got it at my local Lowe’s store, and so I guess I’m going to have to get a new one altogether. I’m fairly sure that the plant was “guaranteed to grow!” Oops. Maybe that speaks volumes about my gardening capabilities. We shall find out come round-2 of grapes.
So-as not to get discouraged, here are some of the successes that I have so far:
1) some of my root vegetables are germinating! I’m not sure which ones, and I’m really hoping more of them do, but for now it’s awesome that a few of them have germinated despite the awful weather.
2) I planted my pea plants around April 15th, and since then we’ve had very few sunny days, and of course cold and snowy ones…the pea plants are doing great!
3) Last year I had all of my vegetables in the raised bed. One of the Chiggogia beets miraculously produced seeds over the summer (which usually takes two years), and many of the seeds fell and overwintered in my raised bed! Now I have little baby beets growing already that have dealt with the weather fine, and will be ready to harvest by the summer heat.
4) The conversion is going well so far, and as soon as we have good weather on the weekend, I’ll likely be able to git ‘er done:
5) My asparagus from last year is coming up again, even though I moved it from the backyard to the raised bed. The stalks are still pretty small, but it looks healthy. Yesterday I microwaved a couple of them just for kicks and, and…shocker…they tasted like delicious asparagus! I did plant 7 other asparagus rhizomes at the beginning of April and haven’t yet seen any signs of life above the soil, but yesterday I dug around one of the rhizomes and found roots starting to take hold below the soil.
5) My kale seeds are germinating as well! At least I hope it’s kale…and not random seeds that got into my “kale bed.”
I started my some of the cold-hardy vegetables on Sunday because it was (finally) nice weather. Until they germinate I’ll have the black plastic sheet over them so they stay moist and warm.
The wildlife in our neighborhood cannot be trusted to do the right thing, so each of my garden beds will need to have some sort of fencing around it. I have yet to go pick some more tiny fencing up, so chicken wire is filling the gaps until I get around to it. One thing that I discovered makes a quick make-shift fence structure around a plant is an upside-down tomato cage that I set chicken wire around:
This is a grape vine that I just planted Sunday in the back yard. I placed the upside-down tomato cage over it, then cut a piece of chicken wire that was in a roll, so it wrapped around the tomato cage naturally.
In the front I used the tomato cage contraption over seeds I planted for raspberry spinach, mascara lettuce, arugula and kale, which are also protected by the plastic sheet mulch.
I also started a couple of experiments, because I have seedlings coming out of various orifices. I cut the bottom off of a couple juice/soda containers, and planted an okra seedling and a watermelon seedling. The bottom piece that I cut off I’m using mini-hot caps to speed up germination of some of the seeds.
If it’s cold I can leave the cap on, and if it’s sunny I can take the cap off to allow heat to escape. If it gets really nice out I’ll take the whole bottle off the plant so it doesn’t get too hot.
I also started to harden an okra plant and a ginormous Cherokee purple tomato plant that is getting too big for its britches…and the grow light.
It got down to 40 degrees last night. After day 1, the transplanted watermelon is looking pretty weak but the okra seems to be doing well. When I got up for work this morning I thought the tomato was dead, but when I got home it had sprung back up and just as chipper as ever. The container okra is doing fine.
Starting seeds is largely an experiment for me. Peppers, eggplant and okra were important to start last month, but as far as the rest of ‘em, I wanted to get a lot of different plants started just to see how they progress and how they compare to seeds I directly sow. Since that time I’ve learned that sunflowers were a mistake. They just got too big very quickly, and took up valuable space under my two grow lights. I did know this to some extent, but I err on the side of not-patient, so I did it anyways. One of my orders of seeds came in later than expected, so I didn’t get to start the red burgundy okra and the Brazilian orange eggplant as early as I wanted.
I found an article by the University of Florida on Starting the Garden with Transplants, which includes this chart:
Some of the vegetable seedlings in the middle and right columns I’m transferring to peat pots, and some of the seedlings I’m sprouting in peat pots from the beginning so I won’t have to disturb the roots when I plant them outside. I’ll compare how they do to the seeds I directly sow outside, and how the seedlings compare to other seedlings under my grow light.
I’ve never been an actual, real live gardener before. Last year was my first attempt as a raised garden bed, and it was definitely a learning opportunity rather than anything else. I crammed as much stuff in there as possible, which limited food production, and basically had no idea what I was doing in any other respect. From last year I learned a bunch of things, which I will be adding to this page as I think of them. Here’s my starting list:
This year after the snow melted, I realized two of my three blueberry bushes had been munched on by the local critters, which brings me to Numero Uno:
1. For the love of God, protect the one remaining blueberry bush!
2. Protect everything else. Bunnies, squirrels, and mice run rampant in our neighborhood, so I’m going to have to put up fencing around everything. Even if I’m feeling lazy when I plant something. Last year I didn’t get a single strawberry because the mice would beat me to them. This year, it’s on, mice, you hear me!? I’m not sure how I will build a fence that they can’t climb over, though. Suggestions???
2. Cauliflower, Broccoli, or cabbage take up too much valuable space with minimal food production. (This breaks my heart a little, but I only have .005 acres to work with).
3. Keep planting cilantro and dill throughout the summer so they are always available.
4. Do not crowd the plants. Repeat: DO NOT CROWD THE PLANTS. Nothing good will come of it.
5. Do not plant fennel. You hate fennel.
I suspect that the culprit needed energy for the elicit love affair…and MUNCHED ON MY HIBISCUS SEEDLING!
Any ideas who is responsible and what I can do about it?
I really like this idea for seed starting in toilet paper rolls.
Above is what my seed starting set-up looked like in Mid-March. I have a heat mat below the seed bed and a heat regulator that keeps the soil temperature at around 80 degrees. This isn’t equipment I normally would purchase (because I’m a bit of a cheap skate, I mean, a’hem…frugal), but a friend gave them to me when they got new equipment.
This heat regulator is the one I have, which I like a lot. I’m not sure what kind of heat mat that is, but it does the trick. I’ve noticed on Amazon that you can get them for as little as $20. I germinated some of my cilantro seeds with the heat mat, and some of them without, and it made about a 8-day difference, probably because the house runs a bit chilly.