Filling in the gaps

Things are going on in the garden – well not in it exactly, as I’m still waiting for the soil to be dry enough to work.  The sun came out today briefly, and there is no longer surface water above the tips of the grass on the lawn.  But the ground still feels squidgy underfoot and the soil in the beds is still tacky and not the lovely soft crumbly texture I’m looking for.  So, I continue to wait.  It hasn’t rained today – yet, but there is a damp feeling in the air.  I’m almost too afraid to check the long range forecast in case it tells me what I don’t want to know.

Pepper seedlings

It is difficult to see how this tiny seedling will more than fill this pot in the months to come.

But these conditions can’t last forever and so I have been pottering about in the warmth of the greenhouse tending my seedlings.  The peppers I sowed a month and a half ago have long since been transplanted and are doing well.   They are destined to remain in pots until the garlic comes out after the longest day.  Their first transplant won’t be the last.

Back then I also sprinkled some celery and celeriac seeds onto the seed raising mix.  Those seeds are so tiny I have ended up with so many of each and I can’t bear to waste things so I transplanted those as well.  Maybe we could eat them as microgreens or salad greens as they get bigger.  Who says things have to be fully grown in order to eat them?

Celery

I’m not sure anyone needs this much celery.

The tomatoes sown two weeks ago are up – well most of them are.  This is where my carefully laid plans come undone.  I have space for 20 plants in my tomato bed and have carefully chosen 20 varieties.  I then with great care sowed the seeds.  Because of my desire to avoid waste, I don’t liberally sprinkle the seeds across the seed tray.  I know myself too well – if I grow them I’ll end up nurturing them.  So I just sow what I’ll want and a backup just in case – and then a spare set just in case there is a problem with my back up.  In order to get one plant I sow 4 seeds and hope for the best.  This is generally works really well and I am grateful for my restrained hand as the spring moves along and space in the greenhouse becomes a wish and not the reality it is now.

Tomato seedlings

There is something kind of special about tomato seedlings

The thing is – there is always this point where a decision needs to be made.  It has been two weeks.  The seeds were fresh and apart from the days they were under Hubby the Un-Gardeners care I have been diligent in their care, making sure the soil was evenly moist – not too wet and not to dry.  I have kept a close eye on the minimum maximum thermometer and even on the gloomiest days I open the door to stop high extremes and have my little terracotta pot candle heater at the ready to keep overnight lows from dipping into the freezing.  I’ve even done my best to avoid seedling squishing by cat.  It is like they are invisible to her and all she sees is a nice place to sleep.

And yet there are still gaps.

20170914_163125

This is the conundrum.  I could wait it out and hope they’ll be there in a few days – which I’m sure they will be, or I can assume they’re not coming and sow some more.  The longer I linger over this decision the gap between the already germinated and the not yet germinated widens.  It might not matter in the early days, but once the older ones get transplanted into the richer potting mix they put on a growth spurt reminiscent of a teenage boy.  I’ve been there before. The younger seedlings never really catch up, and out in the garden they can easily be overshadowed by their bigger brothers – slowing their growth even more.  It isn’t a huge gap or a huge problem but when you faithfully tend your plants – you notice.  Two weeks can make all the difference in the early life of a seedling.

Germination

I may have acted in haste, however it is better to have than to have not.

So instead of waiting around I pulled my seed box out and resowed more.  To ensure I have a good choice for plants for the prime spots in my garden ended up sowing double the number of seeds that were missing.  If only three of the four popped up I sowed another two – I probably won’t need either of them but you never know.  If there were two missing I sowed another four and importantly if none of the original four popped up then I sowed 8.  I’m taking no chances to ensure I get what I want.  These seedlings are then given the royal treatment – while their early brothers were out in the greenhouse – and it is perfectly fine conditions for them, these new ones are being spoilt, indoors, on the heat mat where I can keep a close eye on them, and the consistent temperature will help them to germinate sooner.   If only I cared as much about my broccoli!

Come again soon – it is nearly 100 days until Christmas – which means potatoes!

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

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2 Comments on “Filling in the gaps

  1. I ended up with 24 plants last spring for 15 spots… I made more spots. And this next year I’ll probably end up with 31 plants for 24 spots… And make more spots.

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