Seedling Update #4 – The Waiting Game

For more than a week now I’ve been working on transplanting the seeds I sowed nearly a month ago.  I have far more plants than I anticipated, but cannot bring myself to pulling any of them yet. Who knows if all my transplants will make it or if the other seeds I’ve sown are even going to sprout.  At this point I want to cushion the garden so I have enough plants, even if they are all tomato and pepper, to fill every square inch.

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My broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and pumpkin plants have all sprouted, but for now they are going to hang out in their original pots.  I’ve found lots of information online on how to transplant tomato and pepper seedlings into larger pots before planting them in the garden, but have not been so lucky when it comes to these other plants.  I figure I’ll wait until they have another week or two of growth and then try transplanting a few of them to see if they survive the shock and continue to grow.

This afternoon I planted three new varieties of peppers that I ordered online.  These peppers will be for canning.  For the past four years I have bought a bushel of peppers from a local farmer and canned them.  This year my goal is to grow my own.  I bought Szegedi, Romainian, and White Cloud peppers.  All are sweet and either yellow or white with a very thick flesh — perfect for pickling.

I am so excited for the weather to warm up so I can get out and start preparing the gardens for incoming plants.  Being in Michigan however, there is no telling when that might be.  Just to give you a little taste of what it’s like here:  Two days ago it was 54 degrees and sunny outside, one day ago we woke to 3″ of snow on the ground, and today it was 52 degrees and sunny again.  Not the best track record for getting outside and making any progress.

I have a few more plants that I will be able to transplant in a few days, but then it becomes the waiting game.  There won’t be a whole lot to do with the plants until they start growing and the leaves begin to multiply.  Already some of the tomato plants are getting a new set of leaves, giving me hope that perhaps some of these will actually make it to the garden.

I have big plans this spring/summer and truly hope my efforts will be rewarded.  For now, I am enjoying the smell the plants growing in the dining room and the dirt under my nails, for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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Seedling Update #3 – Time To Transplant

The tomato seeds I planted a little over two weeks ago have grown to a point of being too tall for me to put the plastic cover over their trays at night.  If all the seedlings in these trays were as developed, I would opt to just leave the cover off, but seeing as not all the seeds have even sprouted, it is time to look at my other option – transplanting.

This afternoon after everyone was finally out of my hair and busy doing their own things, I decided to pull out my peat pots, potting soil, and plants and begin transplanting.  Trouble was, I really had no place to work.  Sure I could use the kitchen table or the corner of the dining room table that hadn’t yet been turned into a nursery for seedlings, but with every scoop I made into the bags of dirt, it seemed more dirt was ending up on the floor or carpet.  Not a pretty sight.

To make matters worse, all I kept thinking about was the potter’s bench out on the patio that I bought last summer and the fact that I wasn’t even using it.  The temperatures outside are still too cold to work outside but even if I did dress appropriately, exposing the little plants to the shock of the cold air while transplanting them would surely kill them or at the very least stunt their growth.

What to do?  What to do?

Well, seeing as Hubby wasn’t home to object, I did what every housewife determined to utilize the right tool for the job would do, I moved the potter’s bench into our great room.  Why not?  It’s not like it was dirty or anything.  Perhaps a bit weathered from the winter, but seeing as I bought the bench near the end of the summer, all I’d managed to do on/in it was to store supplies and trim the tops off some root vegetables before it was time to close it up for the season.

Grace and I carried the bench through the door wall and placed it against the windows in the great room overlooking the garden in the back of the house.  It’s perfect right where it is.  I lined the recessed work area with a plastic tarp, put a firm board across half of the bench so I’d have a work surface above the recessed area to work on, and then stocked the bench with pots, dirt, tools, seeds, gloves, water, and finally plants.

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It took some time to get everything set up but it was definitely nice to have everything I needed in one place and an area to work in that would confine the mess where it should be, not all over the floor, and keep me dry and warm.

Today I transplanted 17 Beefsteak tomato plants into 3″ and 5″ peat pots.  I really wanted 4″ pots, but none of the stores with garden supplies in our area had them.  They all had 3″ pots and only one had 5″ pots.  I figure I’ll see if the pot size I transplant into will make much of a difference in the long run.

Seven plants went into 5″ pots and nine went into the 3″.  All the tomatoes were planted deep in the soil, covering most of the stem and leaving only the leaves above the dirt.  The plants were at least 3″ tall, some taller.  The taller ones went into the 5″ pots.

Tomatoes in 3" Peat Pots

Tomatoes in 3″ Peat Pots

Tomatoes in 5" Peat Pots

Tomatoes in 5″ Peat Pots

It’s nice to see my seeds growing.  Of the 44 Beefsteak tomato seeds I planted (2 seeds in each of 22 pots/pellets), 18 plants have emerged.  I have no idea if this is a good percentage or not, but if all 18 tomato plants survive and bear fruit, I shouldn’t have to buy any tomatoes for canning this year. Plus, I still have Better Boy tomatoes to transplant tomorrow and have about the same number of plants there.  Now my next problem is going to be finding room in the gardens for all these plants, but then I’m sure my neighbors wouldn’t turn down a free plant or two.

Even though the weather hasn’t been very spring-like yet this March, planting seeds, getting my hands covered with dirt, and watching the seedlings sprout fills me with the hope that Spring promises, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.