Thursday, May 8, 2008

Who's Ready For Next Year?

Here are a few more lessons we’ve learned this year:
- Use Saran Wrap instead of plastic dome covers for seed starting. The Saran Wrap can be removed from cells in which plants have sprouted but remain over incubating seeds.

- Plant heat mats are not warm enough to make much difference in soil temperature. Next year we will invest in some variable temperature reptile heating mats.

- Don’t plant more than one seed per cell. It’s better to end up with an extra flat of cells than to try to separate seedlings with tangled roots.

- Be sparing when adding compost to seed starting mix. We used a 50:50 mix of compost to Promix when transferring the seedlings from the seed starting trays to larger containers. This ratio should probably be 10:90 compost to Promix. The excess amount of fertilizer from the compost probably caused leaf yellowing and curling in the pepper plants. The stressed plants lost some leaves and made easy targets for those infernal aphids.

- Have a water source nearby. Bringing water from the kitchen to the basement one pitcher at a time is a drag.

- Don’t overplant. Make sure that enough space will be available for all of the seedlings. Take into account the final pot size each plant will end up in, not just the number of 72 cell trays needed. Plan for some extra space for unforeseen events.

- (For Mark) Don’t freak out. Plants are surprisingly resilient. Even though the peppers seemed pretty sick when they were attacked by aphids, they have recovered now and are doing well. Gardening is a lot more art than science and is subject to the freakish whims of nature. No amount of pre-planning is going to avert every problem. Besides, isn’t problem solving part of the fun?

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