It has now been exactly 21 days since placing seeds in soil. While I have a long season ahead, I really should have plants in the ground by now. I anticipate that I will plant them in the garden next week or the following week, at least some of them.
My tomatoes are a joy. I have always loved the beauty of growing seedlings. They really took off this week and have nearly doubled in size. The problem I am seeing now is a little yellowing on some of the plants, and some leaf curl. Both of these are the plants telling me I’ve been fairly hard on them. The yellow leaves seem to indicate too much water. Thinking back, yes, some of the plants were over-watered. I doused them all with a rather heavy sprinkle from the hose and they were too wet. They’ll get over it.
I also started giving them some sun. Hardening off is always a tender time as the plants get taken into the bright sun and into the wind. I gave the whole group an hour of direct sun last Sunday, and added a little time each day since. They hang out on the driveway now for four hours, maybe five, and I’ll give them this treatment next week too, hoping to have them out all day and all night by Friday. Something like that. I’m letting the plants tell me when they are ready, and at least a couple of varieties are certainly pouting. I have a few curling their leaves, a sign of stress. My first leaf curlers came about two weeks ago, the true leaves emerged and then curled, saying “We’re too dry, water us!” They uncurled after a few days. Now I have a bunch getting finicky because they were outside yesterday in a pretty stiff wind. They got whipped around quite a bit. They’ll get over it.
Overall, the tomatoes are growing like crazy. I’ll select the best plants for the garden plots, and then I will take the second stringers for potting in containers. I’ll give away the remaining plants, even my third string plants will be excellent.
My peppers, Quadrato D’Asti Rosso Pepper, Emerald Giant Pepper, and some Thai Red Chili Peppers, are slow. Peppers usually are. But they look to be very healthy and are far less finicky than my bratty tomatoes. Isn’t it funny how a plant can take on an attitude?
So these are the long days of waiting for seedlings to get big enough to stay outside for the rest of their lives. Its also time to get the beds in shape. My first two beds were cleared, I plan to work on that ugly third bed today a bit. I have some special challenges with that one. I laid down some scrap carpet padding, you know, that grainy foam mat? Yeah, that stuff. The thought was it would block out sunlight and be a defense against weeds so that when I could get back to gardening (I missed half of 2015 and 2016) it would be a simple matter of pulling up the mat to find weed-free soil beneath. Nope.
Weeds have a way of fining the smallest of pores. Sunlight breaks down foam. Combine the two and I had dense weeds growing up through the foam. Now I have to go pull weeds and foam, which is decomposing into bits. Yuk. I will scrape the top layer off this bed when finally cleaned, and will till in some compost before planting our corn seeds. In the fall, I might try a good green mulch cover crop to replenish this bed for the next spring, after the corn sucks the life out of the soil.
I am also trying an experiment. I’m growing carrots in a couple of containers. They just sprouted today, after five days of being surface sown. They are on my front porch where they don’t get a lot of sun, but I think they will get enough. Besides, I needed to do something with that wooden box container after it has sat empty for years. Carrots are a bit of a shade-tolerant plant, though I think I will need to give these guys a bit more sun when they all come up. Thinning will happen, otherwise no decent roots. The benefit, as far as I see it, is that they are in soft, loamy potting soil with nothing to hamper root growth. They should do OK. We shall see.
So there we stand. Three weeks into what I call “Alysheba Gardens” and we have life, work to do, and dirty fingers. Its awesome.