Saturday, April 17, 2010

Plant Party

Back in February, while the Captain was between jobs, we made a commitment to our future and planted a Jiffy greenhouse tray full of herb and vegetable seeds. We stuck seeds into little dirt pellets, watered them, set up a pair of grow lights, and replaced the lid. The directions led us to believe we would have sprouts in 7-14 days, so we went back to other ways of wishing away the end of winter.

Small beginnings, during a Texas snowstorm

To my astonishment, we began to see tiny green shoots within 3 days. Apparently, sugar snap peas are the party animals of the vegetable plant world, and they don't want to miss a moment of the fun! I now know what to have my children plant for a quick result. Other seeds soon followed, and shortly we had a rocking house party going on.

I also learned why everyone plants tomatoes: they simply grow! Out of twelve dirt pellets with (I thought) three seeds planted in each, we ended up with 34 shoots growing out of thirteen pellets! Several pellets had four stems come up. I think a synonym for tomato should be vigorous. Multiple stems will probably end up fighting for nutrients, but I can't bring myself to thin them. So super plants, here we come.

Four plants have been moved to my backyard tomato buckets, with the other nine in smaller pots waiting for a more permanent location. Apparently I will be sharing the love via tomatoes this year, if I can remember to water them faithfully. (I kinda failed at that last season.)

Tomato bucket with blueberry bush behind

We planted a dozen varieties of seeds, including Meyer lemons and two kinds of apples. Besides tomatoes (2 kinds!) and peas, we attempted basil and cilantro, artichokes, jalapeno and poblano peppers, and lettuce. Most seeds were wildly successful.

Of them all, we had the least idea what to expect from the artichokes. Only twelve seeds came in the seed packet, and they were listed with a 180-360 day growth time. Of the twelve, only four germinated. Was this enough?

Then last week we went to the university horticultural garden, and I saw artichoke plants. They are awesome, spiky bushes sending up these giant heavy flowers that are the fruit we eat! While searching for this photo to demonstrate for you, I also just found out they are a kind of thistle. Who knows but I may end up with mini artichoke plants sprouting up all over my yard!

Stock photo: What have I started?

As I mentioned, the genesis of this project came from a commitment to the future, in which we would build a garden to receive the plants within eight weeks. The commitment became reality when the basil was ready for the herb box. I also bought some rosemary and thyme to add in. Sturdy oregano had flourished over the winter. And a couple of garlic cloves stuck into the soil completed that mini-project.

At the five week mark, I began moving some of the tomato pellets into larger containers.

At six weeks, those plants were ready to move again, so they went into their buckets. Other plants were moved into slightly bigger containers as they, too, began sending roots forth from the edges of their dirt pellets.

At seven weeks, we finally began to dig a garden. The kids helped me spend an afternoon cordoning off a square and digging up the sod. The Captain bought me lumber and rebar to build a raised box, because what passes for soil around here is really black clay.

No, really, the kids did help!

We are now three days away from the eight week mark, and my back porch is bursting with life. The race is on this weekend, to finish building the garden box so that by the time the eight-week clock strikes midnight on Tuesday, all that party has someplace to go!


  1. Excellent! I'd love to come see and have you over to see what's sprouting at my house. Last year, my basil grew like crazy. I still have oregano plants that survived the winter and got huge -- let me know if you'd like some. I've tried transplanting clippings with some success so far.

  2. I am so proud of you! Love the party metaphor.


Thanks for stopping by! I love hearing from you.