Thursday, May 5, 2011

But it’s Spring…can’t I plant now?

It’s the first week of May and the past few days it has been quite cool here in the South. Overnight lows have been in the upper 30’s. Mother Nature – HELLO – it’s May! Last night it was 37 degrees. Want to know what I did before bed? You guessed it, I brought my seedlings from my “patio garden” into the house. After having spent nearly two months sprouting tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes and various herbs from seeds, I was determined not to lose any of them to this cold snap. The sad thing is, all of these seedlings look rather puny for being two months old, with the sole exception of the cucumbers.
Today, I decided that perhaps I should visit the local nursery and pick up a few plants that are a little further along in development. I haven’t quite given up on the seedlings, though. If I can coax them into maturing, I’ll have continuous planting for the next month or so. But what caused the seedlings to be so stunted? I discovered that inadequate lighting during the sprouting stage is the culprit. The seeds were set in peat pots, underneath homemade grow lights. And while the lighting was enough to have the seeds sprout and grow, it wasn’t enough to have them thrive. I moved the seedlings outside almost three weeks ago to harden them off, placing them in shade and gradually moving them to full sun. Now that they are in full sun, the leaves are becoming darker and growth does seem to have perked up. But alas, now it’s cold again, and tomatoes certainly do not like cold weather, so in they came, as did the orchids which had been outside now since the first of April.
Nana always said “never plant anything outside until after Easter”. I guess she was right and there was a reason friends and family always proclaimed her to have green thumbs.  I just don’t remember if she told me how long after Easter I was supposed to wait! I supposed I’ll have to learn that one on my own.
Lesson learned – outside planting season starts after Easter for tender vegetation.

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