SO FAR, LUCKILY, MY JOURNEY STARTING SEEDS HAS BEEN NOTHING BUT POSITIVE. I couldn't be happier with the results so far and am so happy I've taken steps to plan my garden in advance this year. I'll be reaping the benefits in June rather than August! YEAH!
The cucumbers are starting to flower now, and since there are no polinators indoors, if I want these to become actual cucumbers I'll have to polinate the flowers manually by touching different flowers together once the flower has fully developed (flower shown is not ready). You'll also notice the curly off-shoot. This will latch onto a stake inserted at the plant base if I want the cucumber to grow vertically, which I do. Be careful they don't latch onto other plants as you'll end up in a real mess.
Since our last post on potting up, I haven't mussed with my plants too much, and I thought that even though there's no big "how-to" for this edition, it's still worthwhile sharing what's happening so that you can keep a few things in mind if you happen to be following along.
The first thing I'd like to note is the importance of keeping a garden journal. I've never done this before (remember when I said I was never organized?), but the value in doing so is immense, so this will be my first year journaling the garden season. That way, next year you'll be able to remember what you planted (seeds, varietals, etc), how many you planted, how they did, your process, etc. You should also list roadblocks and challenges, and other variables such as the type of soil you used, how often you fertilized, etc. Save your seed packets and tape them to the pages next to your notes, including envelopes with seeds left in them. That way next year, when you go to start your seeds, your notes will be right where you need them.
The sweet peppers are finally picking up speed. They are slow to grow making me super thankful I started them early. Right now they are approximately 4" tall.
Although I've been 100% happy with how my plants have done so far, there have been a few teensy hiccups. One of those things were the peat pots that I used to "pot-up" my seedlings. While they seemed ideal, it turns out they really were not. They wick the moisture from the soil more quickly, resulting in having to water more often, and they also got a little bit mildewy since they are wet all the time. So far it hasn't been a big deal, but next year I'll definitely invest in plastic pots (sigh, plastic seems to be the only alternative) which I'll keep around for following years. The plus side is that they are still really inexpensive and a one-time investment.
The weather is finally getting warm around here, and the soil is starting to warm up. If you're in a similar situation, it's possible it's time to sow your cold-loving greens and a few other things that need colder temps:
- collards and greens
- brussels sprouts
The basil was also slow to grow, but it is really sprouting now!! It's actually about time to plant new seeds to take over once I've harvested these.
The tomatoes are doing super well. Most are around 12" tall, although the cherry tomatoes are slightly smaller at about 8". Soon I'll have to think about supporting them with stakes and removing the "suckers". Stay tuned for an entire post on troubleshooting tomatoes.
Depending how quickly things grow, you may want to have bell jars or row covers on hand just in case Mother Nature decides to throw a sucker punch. Speaking of planting out of doors, part of my organizing has been designing a garden plan. We're planning a future post on companion gardening (what to plant where and with what) but for this post we'll keep it super simple to help you organize your garden using ground-level beds. The benefit to using beds within your garden plot are many, but the most basic are organization, less weeding, less surface area to cover with compost, etc., and you won't compact the soil by walking on it.
THE BASIC GROUND-LEVEL BED:
- Using a piece of graph paper, plot out your overall garden size.
- Subdivide the space into manageable beds. Consider your reach... the average garden bed shouldn't be more than 3-4 feet across otherwise you may not be able to reach. Leave 2 foot wide paths between the beds on all sides for walking.
- Using stakes and string, mark out your beds and ensure you're happy with the design. You may want to leave the markers until you get things planted.
- Once you have your beds marked, there's a whole lot to do in order to prepare your soil, but we'll cover that another day!
Note—This post assumes you have a garden plot... if you're an apartment dweller with a balcony, fear not, we'll cover that too. You'll be amazed at the bounty you can attain using vertical gardening techniques!