Monday, May 20, 2013

I'm So Glad We Have Grocery Stores


Our growing season starts late and ends early around here.  Which is my excuse for just now showing you the little seedlings that I have started for my veggie garden.

One of my goals is to get to the point where I am making most of our food from scratch, and growing as much of what we eat as possible.  Which will lead to canning a lot of what we grow.  Which leads me to feeling like I'm in an episode of Little House on the Prairie except it's more like Little House in the Sage Field.  Whatever.

The point is, I have seedlings.  Which is a feat in and of itself, since I have a notoriously brown thumb.  Not green.  A brown thumb.  As in the color plants turn when they die.

But I have gotten them this far, so let's all just give a small round of applause.  Thank you.

Here is what I started with:

Those weird little things are peat pods.  Dry peat pods.  When I add water to the pods they absorb the water and expand to look like this:

A little army of peat pods.  You can't see it from this angle, but those pods are a couple inches high.  The perfect little home for seeds to sprout.

Then I took these:

For the gardening impaired like myself, those are seeds.

Well, I guess to be more specific:

...those are seeds.

Want a closer look?

Ugh!  Not only seeds, but very dry hands.  Let's move on.

Eventually I want to use non-hybrid heirloom seeds.  Did you know that the produce that we get in the regular ole grocery is mostly grown from hybrid seeds, which means that they combine two types of a certain fruit or veggie to get traits from each.  This gives growers a piece of produce that looks good, tastes right (sort of), and is resistant to pest invasion and all manner of other things, I'm sure (anyone who has grown their own tomatoes and eaten them right off the vine knows that the tomatoes we get from the store don't taste like tomatoes.  They taste like a black and white copy of a tomato.  That is all.).  But if I kept the seeds from that produce and tried to grow it, it wouldn't work.  They might sprout, but they probably wouldn't get you much after that.  Which admittedly, leads one to wonder where they get the seeds in the first place.  So people who actually know what they are doing in a veggie garden often use non-hybrid heirloom.  With heirloom seeds, the seeds can be saved from the produce each year, and used the next year.  And that is my overly simplified, probably only semi correct version of hybrid vs non-hybrid seeds.

And someday, when I'm not killing every plant in a 3 mile radius, I'll try planting heirloom seeds.  But here in the beginning, I'm not wasting my money.  I'm just learning to grow.

So, I opened the pods a little, and dropped 2-3 seeds in each pod, then covered the seeds just very lightly with the peat.  I used a fork to do that because using my fingers was a mess.  For both me and the seeds.

Then I covered them up with the little plastic cover provided:

Why yes, the lid is upside down.  Let's keep that between us, okay?

Which makes a little greenhouse.  Cute.  I planted three trays of seeds.  Two of tomatoes and one of green peppers.  And I set them in the appropriate place in my house, where they would be warm enough but not to warm, get light but not too much direct light.  And do you know what I had 6 days later?

Nothing.  I had nothing.

So rather than throwing the whole thing out the window, which was, of course, my first reaction, I hopped on the internet to see if I could find out what I was doing wrong. And I read on a couple of sites that seeds respond well to "bottom heat".

Bottom heat.  Okay, I can do that.

So I dug out an old heating pad that I had and put two of my three greenhouse thingys on it.

Because only two would fit, that's why.  I had to rotate.

And I kid you not, not an hour later I had sprouts.  And that night, I had these:

And the next morning I had these:

Those are both tomato sprouts.

The poor pepper sprouts didn't fair quite as well.  I had these:

Yeeeaaaahhhhh.  So, I waited patiently.  And then I waited maybe not quite so patiently.  And I was rewarded!  With these perfect little pepper sprouts:

Those are from Saturday morning.  And my tomato sprouts are going gangbusters.  Wanna see?

Gangbusters.  Look at their little leaves!

I am easily impressed.


I like this last shot because they look like a tiny forest of tiny palm trees to me.  Do you see that?  No?

Did I mention that I'm from California?  And that I like palm trees?  And that we don't have those in the mountains?

So anyway, I have a couple more weeks to get these suckers to a plantable size without killing them entirely when I plant them in the ground at the end of may.  I'm only going to plant the heartiest sprouts.  Hopefully some will be hearty.  Good grief, let's all just keep our fingers crossed.

Then the real fun starts, because I get to prep my little plot of land and plant the rest of my seeds.  I am going to have my tomatoes and peppers plus carrots, peas, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, radishes, and maybe some corn but probably not.  Oh, and some raspberry and blackberry bushes.  And a couple blueberry bushes.  And I want to plant onions and potatoes, but I'm pretty sure I'm late for that.  Or maybe not.  I don't know.  I've never done this before and I'm pretty sure I'll screw it up and my harvest will be tiny, but I am determined to learn.  Because I'm sick of paying for organic stuff. 

Do you have a summer garden?  What do you grow?  Seriously, any tips you have are greatly appreciated.  And I promise to keep you posted.

Even if I kill it all.


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