Our little garden has finally made it outside and the growing seems to be speeding up (Huzzah!). The peppers have been staked and the tomatoes have been re-homed into cages (it’s very humane, don’t worry) or those upside down Topsy Turvy things. I have had mixed reviews as per their performance, so we’ll see. So far the plants are trying to bend back up toward the bag (?), hopefully they will figure it out soon and stop fighting gravity. The cucumbers have sort of stopped doing much of anything, so I’m not sure what to do with them, but the squash has continued the whole ‘world domination’ plan.
Of course I have learned a few more lessons….
Lesson 5: If you are going to restart your herbs and/or lettuce, stop trying to be nice and start them in the house (see previous post where I killed them all in eggshells). These guys need tough love and need to start their entire existence outside in the elements (nice elements, not too crazy). After a few of my lettuce sprouts got to 2 inches high, I put the basket outside and they promptly shriveled up. The next batch is doing much better with a full life of outdoor love. Parsley also curled up and had to be reseeded.
Lesson 6: What you think is enough light may not actually be true. I had placed my recycled soup and coffee can planters in some pre-made wooden garden boxes figuring they would just continue to flourish in the sun. This is hard when your wee plants aren’t quite big enough to see over the edge of the planter. I used the plastic boxes from some of my starts to prop the cans on until the plants are big enough to sit flat.
We had intended to get our feet wet in the container garden arena last year as we had a deck put on our condo. However, the best laid plans and all that, as well as the deck building crew taking all summer to build the damn thing, put us behind schedule to an entirely new growing season. So here we are. Still gardening virgins. We read all the books and the blogs and thought we were ready, and then mama nature showed up and put a wrench in our plans by snowing in May of all ridiculous times. So needless to say, the seeds I started in March (Lesson 1: too early for everything but tomatoes) either didn’t make it or were barking to get outside. I have already learned a lot in our foray into the world of seed starts…Shall I share the knowledge? I hear it has power.
Lesson 2: Eggshells are great to start your heartier plants in (squash, zucchini, etc) but too tough for delicate things like herbs. I lost most of my herbs because I either lost track of watering in the shells (whoops) or their root systems were too delicate to maneuver in the small space.
Lesson 3: A grow light is great to get your starts green and growing, but after the first 2-3 inches of growth, doesn’t supply enough light to keep them growing any larger (except of course for the squash which is apparently a super plant and just wants to take over the world) – they stay the same stagnant size until presented to actual light on a windowsill or (someday, maybe) outside. Most of my tomatoes and my pepper plants just sort of stopped growing – it took forever for secondary leaves to come in, and I fear I wasn’t as ahead of the game as I would have liked.
Lesson 4: Dirt is expensive! I know this is a big investment for the moment and doesn’t need to happen each year, but the cost for (on sale!) bags of dirt was more than I had planned for. My suggestion: slowly buy bags throughout the year or when they are on sale to help offset the cost (or at least spread it out).
We definitely still have a ways to go as these little guys aren’t ready to go outside yet. Strike that, the outside world is not ready for these little guys. We’re still dipping close to freezing at night and though the days are sunny, we’re not quite there….So for now, all available windowsill real estate is spoken for and then some. I took all of the cucumbers and remaining peppers to my shop where I planted them (inside) in the containers there. I am still unsure as per whether they will stay the summer outside the retail space, or come home to hang out on the deck….the learning continues!