Thursday, February 23, 2012
THE PLANTING PROCESS--Week 3
Each week, my blogs will be about an experiment in gardening. I'm just a writer who likes to watch plants grow into beautiful flowers and luscious vegetables. My watering can can make me smile as does everything about this hobby. That's why I do it, along with the reasons I mentioned last week. Requirements for taking care of everything I grow will become more arduous as the season progresses. For the next four-five months, the process will become more time-consuming.
Let's talk a little about soil. When I plant seeds, I use a seed-starting mix and a Miracle-Gro potting mix. I combine the two for non-edible plants in the bottom third of the pots or trays. For the tomatoes and other vegetables, I use all organic. Then I shovel in a layer of the seed-starting mix. I moisten these two layers. After I deposit one or two seeds in each pot or scatter them in the tray, I cover them with a thin layer of the fine soil. Be careful when using any of these soils. If they are dry, they puff up into your eyes. I wear glasses or goggles to prevent that from happening.
In the past, I've planted in individual peat pots. This year, in attempting to grow petunias, an article I read suggested I scatter seeds in a tray instead. Since last year's process with 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 sized pots worked well, I wasn't ready to give them up. And I'm glad I didn't. When petunias start to sprout, they are very tender and minuscule. They really have to be babied along. I found setting peat pots in a tray, watering from the bottom and then spraying the top gently was the most effective growing method, so I didn't kill those tender shoots. In a tray, that method isn't possible. I plant one to two seeds per pot and then thin by leaving the heartiest sprout. I can already tell I'm going to lose many more sprouts to thinning with the tray method. I'd rather dump peat pots that don't produce into the fertilizer pile, rather than destroying all those young plants. Just personal preference. I can also see that watering those trays could be detrimental to the plants. More on that as weeks progress.
As for watering... My trays sit on a heated plant pad under grow lights. I check them every morning. If they need water for their ten-twelve hours under the light, I water. But then I let the soil dry before the next watering. This keeps down mold and fruit flies.
I mark my peat pots and trays with colorful hors d'oeuvres toothpicks. That helps me sort colors. This year I planted Double Purple Pirouette, Merlin Blue Moon Hybrid and Prism Sunshine petunias. The purple and yellow varieties are popping up (pictures below). Not one blue petunia has peeked out of the soil. I have a blue garden and blue flowers can be difficult to grow! Either that's also true with the blue petunias or...they just need more time. I won't give up yet. We'll see what happens until next week! Has anyone out there had luck growing blue petunias or petunias in general?
© 2012 Karen Rose Smith
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