Transplants are growing!
So the transplants are growing. They aren’t in the most robust of condition, due to my inability to always prioritize their needs (they’re about sixth on my list of living things whose needs I prioritize, right after myself, and the dog). But my semi-neglect of their needs will provide an insightful learning opportunity to those of you who are just getting into seed starting (like many in attendance at my seed starting class).
Here is a picture of my tomatoes.
They are a little leggy. The legginess is probably due to the long weekend we had at the cabin last week. I didn’t want to leave the lights on the whole time, so I centered each flat in the middle of the window (one flat on my floating transplant counter and one on the dining room table) and put some aluminum foil wrapped around some foam insulation as a reflective backdrop behind each flat. The reflective power of the foil enhances the solar power, but still isn’t as effective as the lights.
The plants are also in need of food–when I took this picture about a week ago I hadn’t yet fertilized them. I can tell they need food because they are more of a dull green than a vibrant spring green. I since have fed them with fish emulsion and after two days, I see a difference.
One other nugget I’ve learned this year about seed starting is the importance of a good soil mix. I experimented with mixing my own very simple mix which consisted of equal parts peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. For the flat I planted broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and kale in, the mix turned out to be a little more heavy on the perlite and lighter on the peat moss. The result is that it dries out a lot faster than my tomato flat. The plants are not quite as robust as I’d like because of it.
But all is not lost due to my semi-neglect! The next step is potting these plants up into larger containers and I am confident I can redeem myself to these slightly depressed plants if I provide a yummy soil mix for them to sink their roots into! Where will I get this yummy soil mix? I could mix my own. For a mix for plants at this stage (versus seeds, which don’t require any nutrients to germinate) I want it to have some nutrients in it. I’d use a recipe with compost as an ingredient and maybe some other nutrients like green sand. Elliot Colemon’s recipe from the book “The New Organic Grower” would probably be what I would use. But knowing that I don’t have all of the ingredients for that recipe on hand and I don’t have the room right now to store the excess bulk ingredients, I will probably just buy something. There is a vast range of quality when looking for seed starting mix. I’d look for something OMRI approved, which means it’s approved for organic growers. Usually it’s labeled on the bag as “OMRI Approved.” I can still remember the smell and texture of the Foxfarm soil mix I tried a couple years ago. It was on the spendy side but the texture was like chocolate cake and it smelled so earthy and nutrient-rich! Was the mix the reason why my plants looked so good that year? Did the slightly healthier looking plants really result in enough benefits to warrant the higher cost? Could I have achieved similar results with a cheaper mix and a consistent fertilizing schedule? There’s always more to learn in the garden.
Yesterday we harvested two, one gallon freezer bags of succulent spring spinach!!! We added a handful of sorrel from the garden to the mix to add some bite. It tastes sooo good to eat green fresh food from the garden again!! It’s been soooo long….