Growth And Excitement

When I finally sat down this year to sow seeds, I faced a serious dilemma.  I had no idea if I would have extra space to garden this year, or if I’d have what was here in the backyard.  Obviously, I have plenty of space here at home for a decent garden, but I really want to trial all kinds of new tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant this year.  In the end I decided to just go for it.  If I didn’t get in at the community garden, this year’s garden would be devoted to these plants, with just a small space for a few lettuces and carrots.

Fortunately, that desperate planning was for nothing, as I was notified last weekend that I DO get a plot at the community garden across the street.  Across the street!!! My biggest problem with the last community garden plot was that I had to physically get in the car and drive to it several miles away.  It was hard for me to find the time to do it. But across the street?  All I need is a garden cart to haul things back and forth and I’ll be set for the season.  I finally got over yesterday to look at my plot.  Oy, I have some work ahead of me to get it ready to plant in, but I’m very excited to do so.  It’s wonderful knowing that all of my plants will have a home this year.

Speaking of plants.  Check this out!

The top shelf is still my peppers, first round of eggplant and a few brassicas that want to go outside.  They are really thriving up there, and not growing too fast either.  I’ve been watering an average of once a week. The light goes off overnight, and during the day the ceiling fan is also on.  I rotate the trays every couple of days as well so they all get a turn closer to the fan.

The second two rows are my tomato plants and the second round of eggplants.  You can tell the tomatoes on the middle shelf have had an extra week in the dirt over the bottom shelf of plants.  They’re coming along nicely.  For the first few weeks I kept the lights over the tomatoes on all the time, but now that the plants are healthy and established, I am turning the lights off overnight as well.

Of all the plants I transplanted out of the starter cells, I had one pepper plant die and only one tomato didn’t make it.  I even had one tomato that the stem snapped… I carefully tipped it over and tucked the separated part in the soil, and it must have rooted from there, because it’s alive and well.  The one tomato that didn’t make it I had a duplicate of, so all is well.

Germination was spectacular this year.  Out of the 62 varieties of tomato I sowed, only 2 varieties didn’t sprout at all.  Unfortunately, in my careful mapping and crossing off, a third variety never made it to get potted up.  The sprouts were there, but for some reason I’d crossed that one off, so when I did the final potting up, I assumed I already had that plant under the lights.  I didn’t realize my error until I was rearranging plants yesterday, and by then it was too late, as I’d composted the extras.

With the eggplants I had four varieties that never came up- and two of those were brand new seed, so that was disappointing, but I have high hopes for the 13 eggplants I do have.  I cannot wait to come up with new ways to use this vegetable.  It’s become a favorite of mine, and I’m especially hoping to figure out a way to freeze it to use year round.

Anyway, later today my dirt is arriving to fill the beds here at home, and then it gets really real!  I’m about to go put the brassicas on the deck for a few hours to start hardening off.  I’m hoping to find time this weekend to get some lettuce seeds in the dirt, but first we have to get the dirt IN the gardens.

Not Quite A Week Later

And my plants are thriving!

Just two pepper plants decided they didn’t like being moved from the starter tray.  I lost a Bulgarian Carrot Pepper and a Serrano, both of which I have more of, so it’s no big loss.

Last Friday I pulled a few last pepper plants out of the starter flat and then started over with the tomato seeds.  I sowed early Friday afternoon, and just after lunch today I was shocked as all get out to look over at the tray and see sprouts!

Several of the varieties that I received over the winter from a friend in France have popped right up! I am sure this week will be full of popping seeds.  The first varieties up are Perle de Lait, Glam Eve and Klujka V Sahare.

I’m really loving having all the plants growing in the same rooms that I live in.  I can see my plants all the time, and all I have to do is give them a glance and they make me smile.

The Garden Does Grow

As I write this this morning, we are under a “Winter Storm Warning”.  Seriously.  We are expected to get anywhere from 3-12 inches, though I think we’re far enough south that it will be closer to 3-6.

I am really, really glad that I was patient with the plant starting this year.  Though I had the itch to start them early- because what if it was an early spring? I waited, and my patience is being rewarded.  Sort of.

The garden is growing, it’s just growing in my basement right now.  I think we finally got the set-up the way we like it, and I wanted to share a picture.

Here it is, five rows of lights, four-feet long.  You can see each shelf will hold two flats, and all the shelves are adjustable, so as the plants grow, I can lift the lights a little farther away from them.  Or, as it is right now, since I have various stages of growth, I can just move the flats around.  So far it looks like all my seedlings are doing well.  I had a horrible mishap with one of the flats a few days ago, yet it looks like the plants will pull through.

In the next day or so I have to actually go through and inventory what is growing down there.   I have no idea how many of each tomato and pepper plant actually germinated and got potted up, since they did so in stages.  I can tell you that my Basil, Thyme, Parsley and Summer Savory are doing well, but as far as specific peppers and tomatoes, that will come.

I do know that I had no Sungold or Brave General tomatoes sprout, and that my Serrano and Bulgarian Carrot Hot Peppers are in plenty.   I have no Hungarian Hot Wax peppers either now that I think of it.

As far as I know, the peas have not sprouted outside yet, but the parsley plant is doing well.  It should tolerate a snowfall okay, as long as it doesn’t do a rain/melt/freeze into ice thing.

Spring?  Are you out there somewhere?

The Indoor Lettuce Patch

I’ve decided that for us, it just wasn’t really worth it to keep the lettuce patch growing, and I doubt I will do it again in the future.

First of all, it never got crunchy.  I know that is often the case with different greens in a mesclun mix, but we’re crunchy lettuce people- we prefer romaine varieties above all other lettuce.    It took a lot of attention- I had to water almost every day, and the amount of time it was on the lights… well, I’m sure the electric bill increase was much more than what buying a few heads of romaine would cost.

It was fun to grow something and eat it in the dead of winter, I’ll give you that.  But I was recently turned on to sprouting, and I’m really enjoying the flavor and the crunch that fresh sprouts bring to the table.

I’m still figuring out this growing under lights thing too.   The first few peppers that I potted up ended up too close to the lights (I think?) because some of the leaves got a bit crispy.  So I’ve upped my watering and adjusted the shelves a touch.  I think they’ll do okay, but I’m a little concerned as the tomatoes start to pop out a few of their leaves in the days ahead.  If I was just growing for myself, that would be fine, but growing for others adds a little layer of pressure to get the sproutlings safely transitioned into healty plant.

Quick Note About Growing Under Light


That little seed tray needs frequent watering.  I’ve been watering my lettuce patch, but sparingly.  Yesterday when I went to check on my seedlings, they looked terrible.  Like, I thought I was going to have to start over terrible.  I decided to give them a good soaking- and it was definitely a good soaking, I probably poured a full gallon of water in this little flat.  But look what I have today:

They’re thriving.   Now if we can only get past this sub-zero frigid temperatures outside, I can start to think about setting the lettuce outside in the screen porch.  My plan is to put them in my greenhouse rack with the plastic cover on, in the plastic covered screen porch.  That should put them at around a zone 7, and I expect the lettuces will grow wonderfully, and in no time we’ll be eating salad.

I need more lights too.  Because I want to start another flat of lettuces, only I need my trays and lights to start actual seeds.

Here’s a quick pic of my onion flat.

You can see the alliums all came up nicely- including the 50% germination Tadorna Leek.  They came up with better than 50% germ, so I guess you never know.  Far to the right you can see the parsley seedlings.  Still no artichokes.   If they don’t come up in the next week here, I’m going to dig them up and see if the seeds are doing anything.  Maybe they need to be scarified? The parsley I’m going to have to pull out soon and plant in bigger spaces.  The onions should be doing just fine here for a while, as long as I give them a haircut from time to time.   If I end up pulling the ‘chokes, when I pot up the parsley, that square of starter tray will be filled with thyme, marjoram and lovage.