Last year was the first year I actually had any success with gardening. Prior to that it was hit or miss, mostly miss, with tomatoes being pretty much the only harvest on the success side. Last year though I had great success with pickles, peppers, beets, carrots, kale, and tomatoes.
This year I got ambitious, deciding to see if I could have an entire garden planted from seed. With seed packets and fresh garden mix soil, I set to work early in the spring planting seeds and enjoying early success with my seedlings. Since then however, everything has not been so wonderful.
At least half the tomato plants I transplanted from their original pots to larger containers to accommodate root growth have died. Originally they were grown in peat or Jiffy pots and then transferred to plastic cups with holes drilled into the bottoms or larger peat pots.
No matter what I do, they just seem to keep dying. I’ve kept them in the house, put them outside, watered them, fed them, followed all the instructions I could find to the letter, only to find more and more plants struggling to survive every morning.
Every pickle seed I planted sprouted, but when I transplanted them to larger containers, they too died. Same goes for the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. I’d say that it was the transplanting, but the peppers, marigolds, and pumpkins I’ve transplanted have thus far held their own.
Moving to the gardens outside, the pea garden I planted more than 2 weeks ago has yet to have a single sprout. The temperatures have fluctuated between the high 40’s to the mid-70’s, so perhaps this isn’t to the seeds liking, but other than that, I don’t have an explanation.
Back a week ago I transplanted half of the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage seedlings that hadn’t been transplanted into larger containers directly into the ground and covered them with milk cartons to protect them from rabbits, wind, and frost. During the day I made sure they were moist and removed the milk cartons to allow them to bask in the sun. Thus far this experiment has shown little to no success. Half the plants have died and the other half have not grown and seem to be barely hanging on.
I keep telling myself this is a learning process, but it is very hard not to get discouraged. I’ve resolved I will no doubt have to purchase some plants for the garden when it comes time to plant tomatoes and cucumbers outside, but I really don’t want to give up on this yet. I even invested in a small greenhouse to put on the patio to see if storing half the seedlings in there would perk them up. So far there seems to be little difference. The plants in the house are fairing about as well as those in the greenhouse.
The learning process is not all about successes. In fact, a lesson learned through failure will likely be more beneficial or at least remembered more than one learned through success. At this point however I am finding little comfort in this. If this were easy, I guess everyone would do it. Anything worth having is worth working for. I’m sure there are a bunch of other “words of wisdom” I could try to console myself with, but the one that keeps me going has to be “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” I can’t expect to get everything right the first time, but I sure would like to get something right.
It is still early enough in the game to try a few more seedlings. I think I’ll plant some tomatoes tomorrow directly in the large plastic cups and then hill them (as done with potatoes) as they grow to accommodate root growth. Another experiment, but how else am I going to learn. I guess it isn’t truly failure unless I give up, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.