I cannot express the joy that comes from working in, and on, my garden each day. It is a source of relaxation, comfort, and pride. It is a work in progress, a challenge, and a gift. When I began this little adventure, I had no clue how much work it would be or how much delight I would get from it. It just seemed like something I would enjoy. And, who doesn’t like fresh veggies right from their own back yard.
Tonight, I spend a good ten minutes just looking at the seedlings that are living in my laundry room. The first batch never got to this point. I had no idea what I was doing and they simply stopped growing. Some survived, but are struggling. Others just shriveled up where I planted them. Some maintain the same stunted size as when I put them in the ground.
But I learned from this experience. I read more, asked more questions, and did specific research. Then, I took what I had learned and put it to use. So far, so good.
My lessons were basic, and perhaps even laughable. A seasoned gardener might question if I had done any research before venturing into this world. I assure you that I had. But a lot went unread and missed.
Here is what I implemented this go around:
- When germinating the seeds, I used a heated grow mat and a humidity dome. I planted the seeds in your run of the mill organic potting soil. I know, I know…I was supposed to use seed starter to keep it sterile. I read that a bit late. Thankfully, all seems to be A-OK in the seedling world. Here’s hoping this doesn’t backfire on me.
- I used grow lights during germination (approximately 16 hours). Once the seeds started popping, I removed the humidity dome, but kept the heat.
- When most seeds had sprouted, I removed the heat and maintained the grow lights (still about 16 hours).
- I had started the seeds in a 72 spot seedling pan. They are quite tiny (about 1 inch in diameter), so it didn’t take long for the seedlings to outgrow their tiny home. More importantly, bigger plants – such as beans – grew large leaves that shadowed the smaller seedlings. So, when most of them started getting true leaves I transplanted them to 4 inch peat pots. Yes, I know, I had a dislike for peat pots. I decided to give them another chance.
- I check the soil moisture daily and bottom water as needed.
- I have also had to pinch back some of the snow peas as a couple of them got a little out of control. They are very delicate and way too tall. My hope is that I can get them to fill out and thicken up before starting to harden them off.
My vocabulary has increased quite a bit! Every time I research something, it seems I have to look up at least one new phrase or way of doing things (pinch off, harden off, and the list goes on).
The reward for so much reading, research, and implementation? This:
I realize that I still have a lot to learn and that getting my tiny seedlings this far is only a fraction of the overall battle. Yet, when I look at them, they make me so happy. This work, the failures, the endless time researching, and the starting all over from scratch…this is what it was all about. And they are beautiful babies, if I do say so myself.
Happy gardening everyone!