City Girl Gone Gardening: Seeds of Patience

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By Jackie Hollenkamp Bentley

 
“Today you are planting seeds to your dream. Be patient because it will be a large harvest.”
― Chris Burkmenn

Uh…not if you look at my efforts at seed starting. I was given a batch of tomato, cucumber and green bean seeds by a friend. In the middle of April I set up my self-proclaimed redneck seed starting system.

CCGG redneck seeds
All spread out…on my ironing board.

 

 

Within a couple of weeks, after diligently keeping the florescent light on them and misting them with a spray bottle every night, these little sprouts popped up much to my delight. Then I got in the way. In my excitement, I was ready to transplant these little babies into individual containers…and that’s where I went wrong. They all stopped growing. They literally stopped growing for days.

Leave them alone when they look like this. Just keep misting.
Other than putting a little more dirt around the stems, leave them alone when they look like this. Just keep misting.

While out running errands, I decided to stop by Wilson’s Farm on Blanton Lane and ask owner Gail Wilson. She said I transplanted too soon and showed me her own tomato starts. I should’ve waited until there were TWO sets of leaves on those babies. But she said all is not lost and to be patient, they may come around.

THIS is when you can safely transplant a seedling.
THIS is when you can safely transplant a seedling.

 

Well. I got in the way again. I moved them outside to my little self-proclaimed Redneck Greenhouse. It’s actually an old baker’s rack.

CCGG redneck greenhouse
Why yes, that IS a shower curtain.

 

They didn’t like that. At all. All but about five are still growing. The rest have shriveled up and passed on. Sigh.

“Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.”
― Steve Maraboli

But, I’m not one to give up. My mom said it’s still not to late to start tomato seeds and that if I start a new batch, then they would “catch up” and I’d have my own tomatoes in no time.
So, this time, I used the only method that has worked for me in the past: my self-proclaimed Redneck seed bed.

CCGG seed bed
It’s an old table/sink thingy used in many a pre-school room for sand and water activities. I covered it with the glass shelves from my “greenhouse.” Each year, my mom saves seeds from tomatoes given to her, dries them on paper towels and gives them to me and others in my family who like to garden. Yep, you can just plant the paper towel and seedlings pop up in no time.

I know. They look like, well, used kleenex. But they're seeds. I promise.
I know. They look like, well, used kleenex. But they’re seeds. I promise.

So I bought a new packet of seeds and planted them in there last week. We’ll see!

“Every great tragedy forms a fertile soil in which a great recovery can take root and blossom…but only if you plant the seeds.”
― Steve Maraboli

I honestly don’t know who this Maraboli guy is, but when I was searching for “seed quotes”, his seemed to be the most relevant to my plight.

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On another note, my potato plight is over. Happily, many plants sprouted and it appears I only lost a few plants.

CCGG potatoes
I proudly showed my mom Derby Day and she said after they bloom and the bloom’s die, there will be tubers underground. Squeal!

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On even another note, my backyard is shaping up to provide our family with fresh produce (seed starting tragedies aside) so I can start saving some money at the grocery store.

CCGG raised beds
My husband and I fashioned these beauties out of old pallets. Not sure if they’ve been treated, I lined them with garden plastic. My online research on using pallets revealed that if they’ve been treated, arsenic could leach into the soil. I’ll take plastic, thank you very much.

So, here they are – waiting to be filled with nature’s bounty. In the few years that I have been gardening, I always picked the days following the Derby as the best time to plant, safe from frost.
What will go in there? I still have cucumber and green bean seeds from my friend. They’re germination dates are not very long, so planting from seed will still yield a harvest this summer. Next will be tomatoes (either from my own starts or from plants I’ll have to buy), zucchini, squash and various peppers.
I’ve never tried raised beds to garden, so I’ll be spending the next few days researching companion planting and other methods of using raised beds.