Sunday, March 16, 2008

Seedlings getting in shape

I was, to be honest, a little hesitant that starting seeds indoors would work out for me at all. I was kind of convinced the cats would eat them, or I would under- or over-water them, or that they would somehow fail to sprout at all. But right now, many of them are starting to look like the grown-up plants they will become, and I'm very proud. The most startlingly delightful surprise was checking in this morning and seeing that the one of the parsley seedlings had developed a leaf that's actually, well, parsley-shaped. It kind of looked like it might've been thinking about becoming parsley-shaped yesterday, but overnight it just magically transformed itself into something recognizable.

parsley at 18 days

The other plants I started back at the tail end of February are looking good, too. The basil has developed its second set of leaves, and they're like little tiny pesto components already. The metamorphosis wasn't nearly as dramatic, but it's there. I transplanted one of the seedlings into a larger pot, the one it will hopefully stay in; it's under the lights, still, but as the days get longer and warmer I plan to transfer it to the kitchen windowsill. The peppermint seedlings are so tiny they're barely visible (in fact, I can't really see them in the photo below) but they're there, with their cotyledon leaves and a pair of real leaves. The onion stalks are growing thicker, to the point where I start to worry they may be too crowded until I can get them outdoors, but then I remember they don't put energy into building their bulbs until light and temperature tell them to do so.

state of the seedlings, 16th march

You can see there, too, a recycled mushroom box; I punched some holes in the bottom with a chopstick (egads, what an awful sound that made) and filled it with seed starting mix, then planted jalapenos on one side and sweet red peppers on the other. Unfortunately I forgot to label which side is which, but as long as I get one plant from each side into the garden I know I'll have both. They were just started on the 13th of March, and I hear pepper seeds can be a long time in germinating.

There's also a Ziploc bag, which I do not find at all aesthetically pleasing, but I wanted to grow some lettuce indoors and it seems this is a good method. Essentially, I filled the bag 4" deep with potting soil, cut the corners off at the bottom, then watered the bejeebus out of the soil. I let it drain so it wasn't just straight mud, then tossed in three lettuce seeds and sealed the bag except for 1" along the zipper. The seeds sprouted within 2 days, but I saw signs of mold at the base so I opened the bag up. They seem to be doing quite well and with luck we should be eating some lettuce within three weeks. One of the little guys seems to have established himself sideways in the bag, and I doubt he'll make it, but I haven't plucked him out yet. I figured I'd see what happens.

lettuce in a bag, 8 days

Audrey, the cat pictured basking in the fluorescent lighting, seems to have developed some kind of affection for the plants. Whenever I water them or otherwise tend to them or just sit and look at them, she has to join me, and often meows at me (she's a talker for sure). She has also taken to curling up under the seed trays; really, who needs a heating mat when you've got a heating cat?

I also read on a forum that blowing on and brushing (i.e. petting) your seedlings is a good idea to help make them strong. So I've set up a small desk fan about three feet away from them, and I turn it on low every couple of hours for about 20 minutes to simulate a breeze. Audrey does a good job of sniffing at and "petting" them, but I touch them sometimes too, not least because it's just fun. I don't know why I never read about or thought of this before, but it certainly seems like it will help the plants to prepare for the Big Move Outdoors later in the season.

1 comment:

k said...

I LOVE the photo of the parsley. it's really beautiful.

And you're making me want to go all green thumb!

nice job :)