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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Garden Patch Update

Welcome to Spring!
Ok, so I'm a little early, but surely by the time some of you read this it will be on or after March 21st, the first official day of Spring.  I'm ready to catch you up on some of the exciting things that are happening in my seed cups.
I'll begin with an update on my asparagras.  When I last posted on their progress, they looked like this:
There were five shoots (plus one 'volunteer' day phlox) in one pot.  Since then, I've transplanted all six seedlings into pots of their own.  I'm happy to report, since the move, they're all doing well.  Three of the five asparagras shoots have even put up a second stalk:
It's tough to see, but if you look at the base of the stem, you'll see a second, delicate pale green stalk beginning to emerge.  After I transplanted them I also moved them to the sunniest place in the house, a directly south-facing patio door, to maximize their light exposure without the use of electrical means. 
Next, the story of my tomato plants.  I began by calling up a gentlemen that I'm acquainted with to ask if he could spare some seeds.  I've had some of his in other years and they've done better for me in terms of yields than any nursery-raised tomato 'starter' plant I've ever purchased.  What this gentleman does is keep the seeds from the best specimens his tomato crop produces every year and so over the course of several years, he has arrived at a very high-quality strain of tomato seeds that are also naturally organic.  He told me he'd be quite happy to send me some seeds, and sure enough, they soon arrived.  He sent me seeds for tomatoes and for cherry tomatoes and told me to start them in moist soil in a plastic container on top of my fridge.  The best part was, they were free!
I followed his instructions, re-using an old 'clamshell' style strawberry container - since these are not even recyclable in some municipalities, I advocate not purchasing them.  However, I also feel that once purchased, even one additional use such as this one is better than discarding them after the initial fruit that they contain is gone.  I plan to wash these trays and keep them for next year since they did an excellent job of starting the seeds.  Once they started to sprout, in order to keep track of what kind of seeds were what, I transferred the regular tomato seelings into re-purposed yogurt cups.
Just look at how well they're doing now.  They're in full sun, in yogurt cups with holes cut into the bottom of them, sitting in glass baking dishes.  I water them from the bottom by pouring into the baking dish.  That way the tiny roots that are forming draw the water from the ground-up, which is the way nature intended.  Supposedly this process will strengthen the root development, although this is something that I read on the Internet so take it with a grain of salt.
I separately sowed the cherry tomato seedlings in old toilet-paper rolls.  I cut them in half, then stood them up in the baking dish and filled them up with soil.  Then I poked a hole down into the soil with my finger and plopped the sprouted seedlings into it. 
As you can see, it's not a perfect system.  Some soil leaks out every time I bottom-water them, but the cardboard itself is said to be an acceptably bio-degradeable-enough material that you can plant the cardboard directly into the garden once the plants have hardened off.  Again, this suggestion comes to me courtesy of the internet, so we'll have to play that one by ear.
Another seed variety I've started is my blue delphineums.  I purchased the initial plant two summers ago in the $1 bin of a garden centre shortly before it closed for the season.  I love the flowers so much that I've kept the seeds for two years now and started my own plants from them each year.  This is what they look like in bloom:
I think they're just the most startlingly beautiful shade of blue and I want to spread them around my whole backyard.  I've also found that they make excellent mother's day or housewarming gifts if someone takes possession of their new home at the right time of year.  As I said, I've kept the seeds, and this is what the ones I started about two weeks ago look like now:
You can see the first of the teeny-tiny secondary leaves have started to appear.  I'm having so much fun planning out my garden for this year and I just can't wait to see these beauties come into bloom.
In conclusion, while I'm getting some good results on the asparagras, tomato, delphineum, and phlox seedlings, nothing has come out of my strawberries.  (sigh!) 
All of the tiny plants above have cost me literally nothing to grow.  The containers are repurposed, the soil comes from a bag that was left behind by the previous owner of the house, and the light comes from the sun.  I've now also ordered additional seed packets from a seed catalogue, which should be arriving in the mail any time now.  They are: spinach, calendula flower (good for relaxation when used in DIY lotion recipes), red cabbage, peppers, lettuce, green onion, carrots, and some others.  I'll keep you updated on how these seeds develop once I recieve them, but for now, take care, and thanks for reading.

Sandwiches update
Last posted total -        $367.43
sandwiches savings          71.44
Total                             $438.77




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