Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sowing my first seeds

After a few weeks of preparation (and lots of procrastination) I am finally ready to plant my first seed. I have everything I'll need; pots, soil, seeds and a nifty gardening kit Ryan was nice enough to buy for me.

Before I dig in and start planting seeds I decide I should probably do a little research... and by research I of course mean Google. I decide to start with the English Thyme seeds I bought on a quick trip to the nursery at Anawalt Lumber (unfortunately I didn't take pictures of the nursery).

I do a quick Google search for "planting thyme seeds." I click on the first search result, which tells me I should plant my seeds in march; it is July. Doh! I click through a few more websites but I start to find contradictory information. For example, one website tells me thyme requires little to no attention and is very easy to grow. However, I click on another site and I find two full pages of instructions and suggestions. I am only a few minutes into my "research" and I am already annoyed and bored. I decide I'm going to try the trial by error approach and just go for it. I'll plant the seeds first and ask questions later.

I make sure to completely empty out the pot I'll be using and then I begin to fill it with fresh potting soil. As you can see, She-ra is already making life difficult. She is curious by nature and insists on sticking her face in the dirt...this does not bode well for my garden.

The pot I am using is seven inches in height by eight inches in diameter, I fill it with soil to about three inches from the top. On the label in back of the seed packet it tells me to plant the seeds at about 1/8 inch in depth and to use about 4-5 seeds per inch.

This seems easy enough, however, when i open the packet and sprinkle the seeds into my palm they are practically microscopic.

I do my best to try and separate five seeds in the palm of my hand but my stubby fingers make it nearly impossible to do so. I figure I am already winging this whole operation so decide I'm just going to take pinches of seeds and sprinkle them throughout the pot approximately one inch apart from each other. I finish by sprinkling soil on top of the seeds until they are more or less 1/8 of an inch under the layer of soil.

I look at my first seeded pot and wonder whether any of the seeds will ever sprout. After all my initial concerns, when I break it down, the process seemed quite easy. In fact, it almost seemed too easy, which convinces me I must have done something wrong. At this point there is no going back though, so I figure I should just keep going.

I move on to one of the larger pots, which I decide to use for the Jumbo Pink Banana Squash.

The pot I use for the squash is approximately 15 inches deep and 16 inches in diameter. I fill this pot with soil to about five inches from the top. I have no real reason for leaving this much space, but I figure it might be good for the plants once they begin to grow. On the back of the packet it says to plant the seeds at an inch in depth leaving six inches between each seed. As you can see, these larger seeds are much more manageable and I am able to plant them individually. While I am trying to plant the seeds, She-ra continues sticking her nose into the pots and trying to eat some of the dirt.

Figuring she needs to get used to the idea of sharing the balcony with other living things I decide not to put her inside while I'm doing this. My plan is to use reverse psychology, so I let her be involved in this process in the hopes that she becomes uninterested in what I'm doing. So far, it's not working, but I continue. I plant a total of 10 seeds, but they are definitely not six inches apart from each other. I figure that if crowding occurs I can always transfer some of the plants to another pot.

Next up is the Bright Lights Swiss Chard. For this I use a pot 10 inches in depth by 13 in diameter. These are an interesting looking seeds, they are small and look like cloves. They are so dry and dead looking I once again wonder how anything can grow from this, but proceed planting them anyway.

The directions call for 1/2 inch in depth and 18 inches in in row space. Hmm. I am puzzled as the pot is only 13 inches in diameter. I figure I'll go ahead and plant 14 seeds anyway and disperse them as best as possible throughout the pot. I'm hoping I didn't use too many seeds.

At this point, I am pretty much out of soil and will only have enough for one more pot, so I decide to use the Italian Basil seeds.

Like the thyme, these seeds are tiny and nearly impossible to get a hold of individually, so once again I turn to sprinkling pinches in the pot. I use the same type of pot I used for the thyme and disperse the clusters of seeds leaving about an inch of space in between. Unlike the thyme, the basil seeds call for a 1/4 inch in depth so I do my best to estimate how much this is by sprinkling dirt over the seeds.

While I am doing this I turn around to find She-ra digging up the freshly planted Swiss chard seeds on the other side of the balcony. I yell and run over to get her to stop and she scurries into the apartment like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Ryan closes the door and keeps her inside while I survey damage; luckily it's not much. I re-plant what she's uncovered and add a little more soil to the top.

Having almost run out of soil I decide to save the snow peas and spinach for the next round. Now, it's time to water my seeds. Again, I am at a loss. How much water? My guess is that each type of plant has different watering needs, but not wanting to go back to Google for answers I decide I'll just wing it. I take a spray bottle and decide to spray each pot until it seems there is enough moisture to seep a couple inches deep.

After I am done spraying all the seedlings I make sure the pots are out of of She-ra's reach (this must be what it's like having a child). Satisfied with my work, I clean up my workspace and start the countdown. If all goes according to plan, in about five days the basil should begin to sprout and I should have some colorful Swiss chard in as little as 35 days. Here's hoping for a successful garden!

1 comment:

  1. Jorge. That's a big step! Nice assortment of produce. Good luck!