When Seeds Grow Up
As I previously mentioned, I’m starting seeds for my garden ahead of time. Ideally, they will produce heartier plants that can be harvested earlier than plants from seeds sown into the ground. Plus, a few species like tomatoes are almost impossible to grow straight from seed outdoors.
So far, the project has had very surprising results. Despite the seeming “no-duh” aspect of the start kit I purchased from Home Depot, it was much less successful than in the starts done in my own recycled yogurt pots. In fact, the kit started growing mold right away! I have two hypotheses why this might have happened: 1) I trapped too much moisture in it by having both the “germination sheet” (aka a piece of plastic that came with the kit) over it and having it in a closed box 2) The germination sheet fell on the floor, where it got tiny spores on it that thrived in the moist environment. Most likely, it was a combination of the factors.
Despite the mold, some of the seedlings sprouted. In fact, seeds sprouted from all of the plants except a few of the peppers. (It seemed as if none of the peppers were going to sprout, but a few finally did.) I think it’s too cold in our house without the grow lights for most of the peppers. We would have needed to keep them around at least 80 degrees, about 12 degrees higher than our typical winter interior temperature.
So far, I’ve transplanted most of the seeds into larger pots, even the ones from the kit. I did allow two plants to die when I had too many of that type and not enough containers. It was kind of pathetic, seeing these tiny plants shrivel up. The other disappointment has been the sunflowers. They’ve grown, but the stalks are gangly and fall over a lot. I knew sunflowers don’t transplant well, but it’s still frustrating.
Now all of the seedlings are in our makeshift nursery, otherwise known as our guest room. We had to move them when a couple of human guests stayed with us, but otherwise, it’s worked pretty well. It’s on the corner of the house and gets plenty of light.
Unfortunately, the mold has returned with a vengeance. When I planted the containers right into the soil, I hoped it would smother the mold. But no such luck. The plants seem to be doing okay, but I’m afraid it will be harmful in the long run. I’m trying a combination of methods to stop it. I ran a fan on low today, and I’m going to spray them with garlic water tonight. According to the farmers at the Rooting DC session, garlic has anti-fungal properties. Of course, they’ll be resistant to vampires as well. The other recommended method was chamomile water, but as I despise chamomile tea, I don’t have any in the house. It will be a last resort.
Overall, it’s been a more successful experiment than I had expected. But this whole gardening thing is also emotionally harder than I thought it would be. When I helped with Ecolocity’s community garden, I didn’t feel the pressure of being solely responsible. Now, I’m genuinely stressing about my vulnerable little plants. Doing hard work and then not knowing if anything will come of it takes more faith and patience than I assumed. But I suppose that’s what I do every day already. It’s terribly hard to tell if my communications work changes anything or if I’m just yelling into the wind. At least with the garden, I’m likely to get a few vegetables out of it.