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Despite my earlier protestations, and with much appreciated assistance, I not only planted what turned out to be an overfilled garden, I har...

March 15, 2010

Thinning Seedlings & Starting Peppers

Today I have started the task of killing.... I mean thinning all the viable seedlings that have just overcrowded their small pots. I enlisted the help of the hubby and I think it was harder on him than it was for me. Many gardeners beginning or otherwise feel a little like they're choosing one child over the other (which you are kind of ) and it's a little disturbing at first. However, I tried to put it in perspective for the hubby by citing what happens in nature and that it's called "survival of the fittest". As you can see from the photo we have two purple cauliflower in one container. One of these has to be cut down with scissors at soil level to just one plant or transplanted to it's own pot to become the fittest. One strong plant in it's own pot can develop fruit or flowers later on and won't have to compete for nutrients with several other plants. Also, plants that are crowded in pots don't get enough air circulating around them or water and will essentially cause them to weaken and/or die altogether from pests or diseases that may target them in their weakened state.

It is very important to follow the spacing guidelines for planting your seeds. In the case of our celery, the seeds were so small that we just sprinkled a pinch over the individual pots and there were so many viable seedlings it was hard to choose which ones to thin and which ones to keep. So in this case we decided from experience and lots of research to clip the leaves of the ones who were touching  until we made it down to just a few per pot. This process may be slow for some, and too many steps for others. However, in the coming weeks as they continue to grow we will thin them again because we will know exactly which plants are keepers and which ones are duds.  We will also be giving ourselves the option of sharing some strong plants with family and friends who don't have the time or patience to in-door garden. Mothers Day is just around the corner. What better way to share some love with mom than giving her some nice healthy plants that you've started from seed?

Starting Peppers:
Later today I will be enlisting the help of my man #2 in the house to prepare our pepper seeds for planting. He is only 8 but like most kids he knows his way around dirt. Despite it being so amazingly beautiful outside, I have been inside building a kind of pulley/stand system for my second tank setup with fluorescent lights. So far so good, I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will work to get our peppers started. As we are in Zone 4, the planting date I have chosen for this particular project may or may not be a week early. Please check the projected frost date for your area before you begin the process of seed starting in-doors. Count backward from this date to determine when you should begin sowing your seeds. You can also utilize tools like the planting calendar I found on Skippy's vegetable garden blog which will generate for you a calendar that tells you exactly when to start seeds based on type and the last frost date you supply. Our expected last frost date is mid to late May if you go by Burpee's website. I am using this date and some of the dates from last years planting to make a guesstimation. It's a good idea to keep track of these important dates and types of plants for the success of your future gardening efforts.