Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gardening: reality check

OK, well the devastation continued in the garden department. In fact by the time I gave up three plantings of spinach and broccoli seedlings had served as dinner to - well, something and the tomato seedlings were beginning to show some serious stress.

So, as we used to say in the corporate world, the take-aways from this experience are:

# Make sure there is plenty of light for the seedlings or they get leggy and fall over.

# Many of the seedlings had the seedpod stuck to the top of the first leaves so I need to make sure to plant the seeds a little deeper so the soil will hold the seedpod while the leaves drag themselves clear.

# I think I started the first seedlings about a week too soon, although winter did hang on all the way to the average last-frost day this year.

# Those little bitty seed starter trays are just too small. I had roots dangling from nearly every one of them and the seedlings needed to be repotted long before I could get them in their permanent growing beds. Next time I will start seeds in nothing smaller than 3" pots.

So where do things stand now?

I have the 4 best looking tomato starts planted in 14" pots, one each, and I have to say they look a little pathetic and lonely. Since they had already been transplanted once from those little tiny seed starters into a 3" peat pot, I just tore off the bottom of the pot, twisted it down tight into the soil in the larger pot then filled the pot up around it. My thinking is that the roots will readily continue to grow down into the larger pot but I have minimized the trauma of transplanting. We'll see.

After planting batch 2 of carrots but before thinning batch 1
I have thinned the first batch of carrots down to about a 1" spacing and have the second batch of seeds in the ground.

I have a half grow-box each of Swiss Chard, Buttercrunch lettuce, Bronze Mignonette lettuce, and spinach seeds started. (Or at least in the ground. I won't know if they're going to actually 'start' for a while.)

Preparing a tomato for planting in a large pot
I suspect it's too late in the season to be starting cool weather crops so the broccoli will have to wait for this fall (If I'm around to plant and tend them and not out on some extended camping trip somewhere.) but maybe I can get a few young spinach leaves snipped off and into a salad before the heat causes them to bolt.

I have two more grow boxes filled with soil and ready to go and should sort through the squash and cucumber seeds and get them going soon, but things have just been a little busy.

Oh, and I'm working on getting that dang mobile greenhouse built so I have a protected place to put all this stuff!

My four 'best' looking tomato starts
They look a little pathetic don't they

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