Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Looking Like Tomatoes

Why do people have "lightbulb" moments at certain times in their lives? The problems is, we usually don't determine when these moments will occur. So it is with me as suddenly, I have a desire to treat my seeds, seedlings, and houseplants with the care they deserve and stop wasting hard earned money killing plants. How do I plan to do this? By taking time to read good sources of gardening material because there's so much information out there. 

I want to say that anyone can put a plant into a hole and garden, but actually understanding the why of what is done and providing it with the requirements best for each growing thing, plant, vegetable, herb, tree, or shrub, requires reading, practice, and application. Asking questions on gardening sites is normally not something I do because it's easier to read reliable sources that have been doing this for a long time. I'm curious and love to learn and enjoy reading books and other gardening blogs the good and the bad as every gardener's blog is their expression of themselves and what they enjoy and choose to share. For me it's journaling and something my daughter can look back on when I'm no longer here. Maybe it'll grow on her as she does not like to garden.

I'm still reading about soil because truly I didn't know that soil is built over many years, since there's been a earth from the breakdown of organic matter, leaves, roots, anything that was once living, part rock, and maybe something else I can't remember that I've read but don't have the source in front of me. Growing from the soil is not a new concept. These past years, I've been planting seeds, killing more house plants than lived, but not really focusing on the basics of what I need to apply to get those tasty vegetables and strawberries I know I can grow.

There's a wealth of information written on how to garden even very good reference books and sites. Some very technical some not so much. It's the individual's comfort level that probably determines what learning sources work for the person. Someone who would have been a great resource but no longer with me is my father as he grew up on a farm where they raised their vegetables, made cane syrup in their mill, and raised animals. Of the many conversations we had over 51 years why didn't I think to talk to him about his experiences on my grandparents farm? He loved how my mother, sister, and I loved gardening.

I've posted a lot about my backyard and how the dappled shade and tree roots prevent me from planting in the flower bed along my fence. My second problem is not liking to come out and water in the heat during the summer. Never did I imagine that the soil might be part of the problem with the garden bed. Since organic matter added to your soil can hold many times it's weight in water, a garden bed need not dry out maybe except in extreme drought. 

Different sources say leaf mold improves the structure and moisture holding ability of the soil and provides a good environment for microorganisms. According to an article I read in Rodale's Organic Life magazine, leaf mold holds 500 times it's weight in water. Applied around perennials, annuals, and vegetables in the garden it helps maintain the moisture. Avoid the crown of plants because this may cause rot. Let's see if it helps me this summer in the yard. 

Different seed companies have helpful information on gardening and scholarly sources of information. I've been reading about cover crops and how they help the soil. A good book with helpful information can be down loaded from Johnny's Seed web site entitled Managing cover Crops Profitably. Purchasing the book is over $18.00's but it can be down loaded for free and has good information. What crops do I have to cover? Even with my small yard and flower beds they can benefit my soil and improve it.

This fall when I planted bulbs, to my amazement, it wasn't as hard to dig in the soil. What happened? The soil was looser. I haven't even added leaf mold but some leaves do get incorporated into the soil and stay on top although not many. I also added some compost during the season. Not my own of course. There must be something to what I'm reading. Let the learning continue.

I was like a small child when I peeked at my tomato seedlings and saw their true leaves. I actually grew those seedlings and hopefully will never have to buy nursery starts again. There are so many varieties of tomatoes to choose from but many won't be found in nurseries but by shopping in catalogues, by phone, or online. I have too many seedlings but it's early. I need to figure out now tonight what's the best fertilizer to apply because they have their first set of true leaves and my lettuce it looking a little yellow. Didn't want to apply Miracle Grow but I can't let my seedling start acting up either. My seaweed emulsion is not an option in the house and osmocote is slow release and not the best thing when seedlings need nutrients now. Okay, I know they need to develop healthy roots and leaves so which ever one that has nitrogen will do. Miracle grow does have all 3 nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Tomatoes 2 types, yellow and cherry.

Kale getting a set of true leaves.
Swiss chard.
Lettuce. I'm going to put them in individual pots.
Red coleus getting it's second set of leaves.
Three pansy seedling. Isn't that awful? And everywhere I read sites and bloggers say they're so easy to grow. Whatever you say. At least they look like pansies. Did I tell you I started more? Like punishment don't I. Kind of late but oh well. Some coleus seedlings also. I'm separating the clusters slowly. It takes time.
Ivy leaf geraniums 7 left. Replacement seeds arrived yesterday for the geraniums seeds that didn't do well. I'm tired of the geraniums already. The next sowing would be the 3rd. 

This is what happens when you by pots instead of using dollar store cups. I have bags of things to wash.

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