It’s a bit late in the season to be starting a garden, but since we just got our soil, such is life. I figure it’s one giant experiment for this bumbling gardener anyway, so it’s all good.
While waiting a few weeks for the soil to arrive, I went to a few nurseries, found the last dregs of potted veggies, and bought a little of everything I could find: broccoli, sad looking cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, some fruit-laden tomatoes, a few cabbages, a cucumber, zucchinis, and a couple of sweet peppers. While at the Kits Farmers Market I also found some kale (hurrah!) and sprouted lettuce to complete the mix.
During the wait I also had the good fortune to find 3 very tall, perfect, bamboo poles someone left near the garbage bins outside my apartment. With the addition of some inexpensive netting, they proved to be the perfect solution for my sprouting peas. I also scavenged some granite counter/tile leftovers from a friend’s backyard. She had scavenged them from someone else for some kind of garden feature that was never quite realized.
With my treasures and a warm summer evening to play in the dirt, my garden has finally come together! The snow pea “teepee” is a big hit, as are the granite stepping stones which will help ensure I can water and harvest plants in the middle of the garden, as well as from the edges.
Let the watering begin!
So, the thing of it is, I’m not really a nurturer by nature. Let me just start there.
It started out so well. I watered, I babied, I fussed, I coddled. I tried sprouting leeks, but the tips all dried out and they toppled over. I tried cauliflower and lettuce, same thing. I tried a variety of beans, but most of the seeds rotted right in the peat pucks.
(On the beans front, I think that may be because I inoculated them. Maybe beans are supposed to go straight into the ground when you inoculate. Inoculant is a powder you toss on moistened bean seeds and is meant to help them draw nitrogen from the ground and grow better. We’ll never know if that works.)
In my defense I don’t have a greenhouse for these needy little sprouts, I just have a seed starter tray and a reasonably warm apartment where I regulate the heat by opening/closing the windows. It wasn’t enough.
Some of those little seedlings I sprouted actually made it from my care into the ground, I’m proud to say. I had lots of squash: zucchini, acorn and spaghetti. And there were a couple of each all long and green and happy when I planted them.
But sadly, it was too early to transplant. We had a few cold days. They died.
Lesson: Direct seed into the ground and the seeds will come up when they are darn good and ready. Works for me!
Step I of the Seedling Saga is complete and Step II is underway — the little blighters (hmmm, maybe that’s not a good thing to say of seedlings) have moved on to bigger and better accommodations in mini plant pots of their own.
They started in peat pucks and those that have showed some sign of living up to their potential have graduated to small, individual pots. That’s Step II.
Near the beginning of my experiment, I was gifted with a huge, dusty, abandoned apple box FULL of mini starter pots when The Scientist spotted and salvaged them, thinking I might have a use for them. How serendipitous! They sure came in handy when it was time for my seedlings to move out of community housing.
I haven’t used nearly a fraction of them, so I’ve passed a few on to a fellow urban gardener-in-the-making.
So far I’ve learned this about seedlings:
- Some seeds will sprout, some will not. Ours is not to know the reasons why.
- Some sprouts will thrive in their new individual lodgings, some need more time in the mini greenhouse with their friends, in order to thrive.
- No matter how sturdy those zucchini sprouts look, one clumsy, misplaced movement and they’ll snap.
- Zucchini are impressive sprouters, acorn squash not as much, spaghetti squash wholly unimpressed with the housing and not cooperating.
- Ignore the “rules” to clip the weaker of the sprouts and keep only one per peat puck — who’s to say in the early days if you clipped the right one. Keep them all until they are sturdy enough to trade up.