So, as usual, it’s been a busy week around here. Here’s some of what I’ve been up to:
Tomato Woes &
First let me talk
about the tomato and pepper seedlings. I learned this week that they are what
you might call “fast breakers!” Meaning, once they come up, they really grow
fast. Normally that would be good, but with my set-up right now it’s not.
Here’s the deal. I’ve got my heat mat on a table in a different room of the
house than my grow lights. This is a room we don’t use very often, hence the
light isn’t even on in there most of the time. Not a problem for slow breaking
seedlings. I water them at least once a day, especially when they’re on the
heat mat, so I’m checking on them very regularly. Usually you don’t want to
move them to the lights until about 50% have germinated. For the slower
seedlings, once I notice that enough of them are breaking through the soil, I
move them over to the lights to continue growing. Not a problem.
So I checked my baby
tomatoes and peppers a couple of nights ago, and I had some coming up—YAY!
There were still just 5 or 6 out of 20 per section, so I wanted to wait. When I
checked on them the next day not only were a bunch more up, the ones that had
already popped through the soil earlier were now 3-4 inches tall and pushing
against the plastic dome! WHAT?! These are leggy seedlings! They’re stretching
to find light. Darn it! You can always plant seedlings deeper when you pot them
on to the next size, but 4 inches? That’s the size of the pot itself! Ug!
To be completely
honest, I wasn’t sure what to do about it. They had already stretched, so it’s
not like you can un-stretch them! After moving them under the lights and
stewing over it for a day, I decided to just pull out those super tall ones and
immediately planted a new seed in the same soil block. Not sure if that will
work or not! These took less than a week to grow on the heat mat, so I’m hoping
I still have time to sprout some new ones in their place.
Now they’re under the
lights, which I have as close to them as possible (my trays are on wood blocks
to raise them even closer) and… several of them have stretched out tall again.
Sigh. I’m telling myself that they’re not as tall as those first ones. It could
be a lie. The peppers are actually behaving better—they’re only slightly
stretched. Say, 1 inch instead of 3 inches.
So much to learn with
Meanwhile, on a
happier note, I got 2 trays of pansies potted up to bigger containers, and so
far they are looking really happy and growing even bigger. Yay! My last tray
and a half were still all quite a bit smaller—I’m wondering if they are the
violas?—so I’m going to wait to pot them on to the next size up.
Note to self: I need
to buy more pots to put all these babies in! Oh, and also—more plant tags! (The
popsicle sticks I used all molded/rotted. Oops. Back to plastic, I suppose!)
I want to start
hardening off the bigger pansies this week. It would be very helpful for them
to continue growing outside, as it would free up space inside under my grow
lights. That’s precious real estate right now!
snapdragons I started are still very small and few in number, but I noticed
yesterday that many of them have started to grow a set of true leaves. That’s
very good! Last year my snaps stalled out completely for almost a month. These
have at least made visible progress each week—seed leaves growing bigger,
etc.—so I’m hopeful they will continue on. Last year a grand total of 5
seed-grown snaps made it out into the garden, and it was July before they were
big enough, mind you. July! That’s way too late for the likes of them! So I am
hopeful that these will be ready to plant out in a month or less.
The carnations are in
the same boat—true leaves just coming.
This Week’s Accelerated
We had a really nice
spring day last week, that I unfortunately spent inside working feverishly on a
marketing project: homemade seed packets as giveaways for a local business
conference I attended. I made 60 of them! I’m proud of me. They were asking for
100 to put in the goodie bags given to each attendee, but at last count right
around 55 people attended. For the win!
It was a fantastic
learning experience for me. That’s business-speak for “I made tons of
mistakes!” I really did, though.
Mistake #1: printing
off the seed packet templates instead of just ordering some plain small
envelopes and being done with it! Even with a paper trimmer, it took a really
long time to cut out and glue together 60 seed packets. Especially because I
wanted them to look cute, so I had extra papers I glued on, plus the
seed-starting instructions. So much cutting and gluing! What a waste of time!
They can’t be THAT expensive to just buy. See how much I am learning?
Mistake #2: I printed
them off onto beautiful, medium blue paper…which made my information on the
front of the seed packet hard to read. Not much I could do about that one after
Mistkae #3: I put the
name of my business on a part of the packet that actually was designed to be a
flap, so it got folded under and glued down! I almost gave up right then and
there when I noticed that. Instead, I ended up including a business card in
every packet, so that they would actually have all my info.
Need I go on? In any
case, at least around 50 people have my information and 10 of my precious Bells
of Ireland seeds. Maybe something good will come of it. I am actually impressed
that I had that many Bells seeds. Plenty leftover, too! I think I would have
run out before the full 100 packets, though.
Now to get mine
Snow and More Snow
So, the day after the
business conference guess what? It started to snow! It has continued pretty
much every day since. Hey—at least it is melting off by suppertime, now. Thank
you April. This morning we woke up to snow AGAIN, but this time it melted off
by lunch. So there is that, I guess. I was able to get out and plant my 9 new
raspberry plants this afternoon, and even mulch the whole bed with pine needles
to lower the pH.
Just so I don’t
forget, I planted: 3 each of Amity Red, Red Latham, and Anne Yellow.
The list of things I
did NOT get done continues to be longer than I care to think about,. Spraying
fruit trees with dormant oil (must get on this one pronto—once leaves start to
unfurl, it’s too late!), pruning, spreading nitrogen on the garden and tilling,
etc. etc. etc.
planting and being in the garden today. Guess what? I found several seedlings
out there that have popped up on their own. I can’t quite tell if they’re
zinnias or sunflowers. They’re just getting their first sets of true leaves,
but those are still pretty small. In any case, they must be very confused,
because neither flower does well with cold weather! Now I don’t want to till,
though, because I want to at least give them the chance to make it! Not sure
what I’m going to do about that. (Scoop them into a pot until after tilliing?
Skip that part of the garden? Just plow them under (gasp)?)
I’ve got several
bunches of daffodils blooming in my front flowerbeds right now, and the
hyacinths behind the greenhouse are breaking into bloom as well—albeit on very
short stalks. So I did my first official harvest round of the year. Woohoo! It
was so fun to be cutting my own flowers again! I’ve got a bunch daffodils on
the verge of being ready—maybe for this week!
My plastic fork deer
deterrent has worked for the tulips! So I am expected many more of those this
year than last, as well. Did I mention that already? So what I did was take a
bunch of plastic forks and stick them, tines up, around my emerging tulip
foliage. So when the deer bend down to eat them—POKE ‘EM IN THE NOSE! Ha! Last
year nearly every bunch I had got munched down to the ground, but this year
they are looking strong and healthy—nearly 6 inches tall now. YES!
Also, the crate full
of tulips I planted is finally coming up. That’s the last area to have snow, I
realized, so I guess they’re just in a colder spot than everything else. I’m
hoping it extends my tulip season out by a few weeks. The ones in the crate are
nearly all parrot tulips.
So, what have you been up to this week? Have you had any “fantastic learning experiences” you want to share with me?