In my quest to expand my gardening horizons, I’ve taken on a new challenge this season: starting plants from seed.
Part of my reasoning is my perverse desire to follow the process from start to finish, from seed to fruit. But there are also more practical considerations. I wanted to grow some varieties that I could’nt find in plants, or at least not in plants that were very expensive to buy–often from far away. And I really want to have a LOT of tomato and pepper plants this year, since those were the two produce products that I continued to buy in large quantities from local farmers. Steve is a little dubious that this venture will actually save us money, what with the lights and the electricity and the extra supplies. But I have his buy-in anyway, since he appreciates my excitement about the project.
So far, so good. There are sprouting seeds in our front window! I don’t think they’re getting enough light, even with the supplemental lamps–they’re getting a little spindly–so I’m hoping to get out this weekend and get one more light fixture. Plus, we’re about to have a week of sun, which I’m hoping will help. I also made some newbie mistakes like using popsicle sticks–which wouldn’t fit under the greenhouse lids–for labeling. I tried to prop them in a way that I could tell which stick went with which plants, but it didn’t work so well. So I’ve definitely got some confusion about exactly what’s growing in which pot. I’m hoping most of that will be clear as the plants grow. If not, it will definitely be clear when they start setting fruit!
In the meantime, the girls have been enjoying tending the plants with me. Anna especially likes misting the seedlings, and Maggie has taken charge of tending the heating pad (which has the safety feature of shutting off after twenty minutes–good for bodies but not for seeds). They also love petting them to help them grown strong.
A highlight earlier in the week was when we did our first round of thinning, leaving us with a nice pile of roots and leaves. We whipped out the neglected microscope, and we were able to see a lot of cool stuff. We were able to get a good view of some guard cells, and had a quick lesson in transpiration. The best part, though, was watching both Maggie and Anna make their own slides. No matter what was on them, their own work was the most thrilling. “Mom, you have to get over here!” Maggie would holler over to me, “Wait ’till you see this! It’s SO AMAZING!”
Well worth the cost of the lights, I think. Even if we don’t get a bumper crop of tomatoes.