What’s the difference between these starter plants? One set is the extremely slow, meek looking batch of sprouts that I planted myself, the other are robust, ready-for-action beasts I got from the Farmer’s Market. I’m a terrible person.
In real terms, it’s been spring for roughly three months now and I can’t really afford to wait any longer to get the goods planted. Phase one: the beasts. Phase two: the midgets.
This strategy may have a hidden benefit. If some horrible blight hits the beasts, a later, additional planting might avoid it altogether. See what I did there? I’m not so bad after all!
In this batch of beasts: Black Prince and Green Zebra tomatoes, “Classic” eggplants, and some fancy cinnamon and osmin basil (which is so flavorful, it’s purple).
I woke up from a dream yesterday that I was standing around a potting table in a misty garden center being schooled by a grizzled old lady about the right way to plant a seedling.
It didn’t involve “tickling the roots” as Jamie Durie had told me on TV. Instead, it involved using a plastic fork to jab the everliving shit out of the roots before planting.
She vigorously poked the roots of the tiny seedling with speed and strength uncommon for a lady of her narrow stature. “SEE? Like this!” Not even looking at the seedling, just jabbing.
Feeling terrible that I had once again misled my readers, I spent the rest of my time walking around the place telling everyone the right way to prep a seedling for planting: jabbing it to death with a fork. Everyone just nodded knowingly with that “I already know this you doofus, but I appreciate your enthusiasm” kind of smirk on their faces.
Like a crazy person raving about divine math, I starting impulsively writing the url of my blog on bags of dirt and mulch with a huge sharpie, basically tagging everything in sight with www.panthysgarden.tumblr.com. All the while muttering to myself that from this day forth, my readers would get the RIGHT info from my blog.
And then I woke up. In the bright morning light my dream was more dumb than divine. So, let’s be clear:
DON’T jab your sprouts with a plastic fork.
DO listen to the grizzled old ladies who know a thing or two about gardening.
DON’T tag everything in the garden center.
DO, otherwise, follow your dreams. Right to the garden center.
I waited all winter to be able to grow stuff and now I finally got what I wanted; Panthy’s Garden is suddenly blowin’ up! My strawberries have flowers? Yet again I’m pleasantly surprised by my own ignorance. Did you know strawberries have flowers? I didn’t.
My grape vine has buds! Despite being yanked around by roofers trying to fix a roof leak, it’s back, lookin’ sharp.
This was the only thing I wasn’t surprised to see, a flowering tulip in the direct path of the composter’s exhaust fan. Mildly odoriferous compost air blows on it day and night; the plant equivalent of Michael Jackson’s oxygen chamber. This tulip loves life.
My seedlings are itching to be planted in real containers; they’re getting LARGE. Check this Moneymaker tomato plant. Dolla dolla bill y’all!
I yanked it from the seed tray and as Jamie Durie might say in a mildly disconcerting Aussie accent, “I gave the roots a little tickle.” Then I tucked it into the only bigger container I have for now, a plastic cup.
I repeated this maneuver a few times with the largest of the seedlings, hoping to buy myself a bit of time to get the rest of my SIPs built and filled with dirt.
The garden continues to grow unchecked and I need to put in some serious work to get ahead of it. Planting time is just around the corner and I like it lots.
Gardening is a risk. The dead Japanese Holly in the corner of the garden is testament to the fact that nothing is forever, especially when you do something wrong, in which case, it’s much shorter than forever. The name of the game is to take risk, but calculated risk. As in TI-82 type risk.
In a mildly daring move to harden off my seedlings before planting them in the upcoming week, I put out the trays and pots containing my entire veggie crop yesterday. I felt like I was leaving 60 infants at the bus station in Newark.
All day they were exposed to the unpredictable and windy conditions that helped earn Panthy’s Garden its original name Hatchachewwit or The Panther’s Windy Place.
I tried not to be a big baby and just do it. I put them in and around anything that could give them a bit of cover. Turns out, they were fine.
My lettuce got a little sad around the edges but honestly, it’s going to be a lot more sad when I cram it in my mouth in a week.
In order to minimize the risk of losing my first round of tomatoes to the stinky blight that rolled through here last year I opted to start another bunch of seedlings two weeks after the first. And to not be stuck with a lot of greens at once, I’m staggering the planting of salad greens by 2 weeks. Three trays of greens, two weeks between em, ya dig?
Since I’m basically the Don King of the Hudson Valley Seed Library, hyping them to death, I finally put in a late order for some of their world-famous Art Packs, if for no other reason than to continue to rave about them. They got here today, don’t hate:
They also came with a handwritten thank you on the receipt from Ken Greene himself! High-five Ken.
In they go, the very last of the seedlings. And in a few short weeks this blog will be less about my kitchen counter and more about the risks I’m taking to grow some fancy ass vegetables out in The Panther’s Windy Place.
Hold onto your damn hats, it’s the ubiquitous “my seeds are growing!” shot. Boom! There it is: a little tiny onion sprout, enjoying the lush, nutrient-rich growing medium probably intended for growing pot. My onion cartel is just getting started, and you’re here to see it.
Thanks in part to a gap in weather stripping that I could fit a pen through, my little seed starting zone gets down to a cool 60 degrees on cold nights. Concerned that it might be a bit too cool, I took the seed starting tray down to warmer environs and buckled down the lid, accidentally closing off the air vents.
Along with the onion sprouts came a spooky, white, spindly… fungus. Good news, things are fertile inside the tray! Pfft.
Also good news: the white stuff can be mitigated by a little air flow provided by a tiny fan, which is already working its magic to correct my mistake. For the next few weeks it’ll be all about tiny dribbles of water for tiny little seedlings, all vented by a tiny fan. This is gonna be a lot cooler when the vegetables are huge.