Seedling Blues

1 May

05_01 Bean BabyThis weekend we got another round of seeds and seedlings in the ground.

From seed we planted:

  • Homemade Pickles Cucumbers
  • Hill Country Heirloom Red Okra

And the seedlings were:

  • San Marzano Paste Tomatoes
  • OTV Brandywine Tomatoes
  • Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomatoes

And perfect timing, just after planting we had two full days of misty, spitting rain.  Godspeed little guys.

We haven’t had the best of luck with seed starting this year, in general. Other than the Brandywine tomatoes, which were really stubborn in the beginning but quickly started going all gang-busters, all the other seedlings have been a little anemic. For instance, our dill and basil seedlings were so tiny and wasted looking that we ended up just direct seeded them a couple weeks ago. Half of the eggplant seedlings were looking ok, but then completely died off.

We think that there might be a couple of problems that need to be dealt with.  We did get a heat mat last year, and according to the thermometer we’ve been at a consistent 70ish degrees.  So, we think that is generally ok.  We’re not convinced that the lights are quite right though, probably just not strong enough.  So that’s one issue.  Two, we didn’t use sterile seed starting medium.  I’m not sure how detrimental that can actually be (here are some ways to deal with it next year though).  I’m not sure if the little guys had enough nutrients.  Also, there was some mold/fungus growing on the paper planters that could have been a result of the potting soil. However, it could have come from another source, which leads me to issue number three. I think there was an inconsistent watering issue. The plants were either dry or too wet, often too wet.  It certainly seems like we might be suffering from a case of the ‘dampening off‘. Seems as if this is a common enough problem, but an annoying and seedling-fatal one nonetheless.  So, lots of things to think about next year. Like new lights, cooked soil, less water and a fan.

It is sometimes overwhelming how much I don’t know. The garden seems so simple – seeds+water+sun=food – and often despite ourselves, it is that simple. However, often it really is not. There is an amazing amount of science to this art. Fortunately for us, we’re both pretty big nerds and we rather like the science of it.  We’ll figure it out, little by little.

05_01 Peach LeavesIn the mean time, nature is continually defying our learning curve by moving forward on its steady march. The peach tree, in the ground for two weeks now, is starting to bud out. The raspberry plants a neighbor gave us (and we rudely stuck in a pot, unprotected, all winter) have leaves all over. And then, inexplicably in the other direction, we have a crazy crop circle of dead grass forming in our front yard. Never a dull moment.


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