[LMB] OT: Gardening

quietann quietann at gmail.com
Wed May 19 15:06:41 BST 2021

On Tue, May 18, 2021 at 10:34 PM Elizabeth Holden <alzurite at gmail.com>

> I started gardening last year, something I haven't done since I was a
> I failed to do a lot of the diligent research I had planned over the
> winter, and now I'm struggling to keep up with the season. I'm guessing at
> things, and I'm guessing wrong. I planted a bunch of seeds in egg cartons
> and set them in the laundry room to hopefully be ready for planting in a
> while - and watered them. Just learned today (via YouTube) that I shouldn't
> be watering seedlings, because it rots them.

Um, no. Seedlings need to be watered but not overwatered. It may be a bit
difficult with tiny containers like egg cartons. Do yours have a hole in
the bottom so excess water runs out?

I start things that are easily transplanted like tomatoes, peppers, and
eggplants in small peat containers that kind of look like egg cartons. Then
sometime between when the first and third set of true leaves appear, I
transplant them into 3 or 4 inch peat pots. The peat pots are single use,
but can be composted. Cucumbers and squashes get started in 4 inch or
larger peat pots and stay in them until I plant them out. We don't have a
long enough warm growing season to start any of these from seeds outdoors.
Peas and beans can be started outside but need to be protected from
critters that love bean sprouts and pea shoots. Peas are planted in early
spring, when the ground isn't frozen. They can tolerate a little frost.
Beans are true warm weather plants, and I usually don't start them until
the beginning of June, but they grow really quickly. I prefer pole beans
over bush beans.

Other things that get started outside: radishes, chard, carrots, most
greens (I like komatsuna), and beets. All but the carrots can be started
early, as soon as the ground unfreezes and frosts are unlikely.

Other things: I start under grow lights kept on 16 hours per day, and the
little pots go on heat mats. I use a "soil-less" professional potters mix
to start, and when I "up-pot" I use a mix of that and compost. No
fertilizer until there are true leaves, and then I use a liquid concentrate
at half or even quarter strength. Before transplanting to the garden, I put
the seedlings outside in a partly shady protected area (a folding table,
actually) for a few days to acclimate them.

> And I planted some tomato plants, brought to me by a very kind friend. And
> then I put the sprinkler on to water them, and learned today, on another
> YouTube vid, that one shouldn't use a sprinkler with tomato plants, but
> water only at ground level, and not get the leaves wet.  Am I doomed to
> always guess wrong?
> There is a lot to learn! The reason for watering at ground level is that
tomatoes, and most other vegetables, are prone to fungal diseases that
thrive on wet leaves and damp soil. I use drip irrigation or soaker hoses
once the plants are outside.

> Rhetorical question, that.  It's so complicated. Ever plant has its own
> needs and vulnerabilities, and right now it all seems infinite.

It is infinite! I had my first garden here in 2004 I think, and I learn new
things every year.  Part of it is sorting through conflicting advice and
figuring out what works for me. The best advice in the world is not useful
if you can't follow it. Also, most vegetable plants are pretty forgiving.

> I wish I had Ekaterin for advice.

Hey, I do too!

> Failing that, can any of the well-informed people here suggest a book, or a
> YouTube channel, or other resources, that give good advice to a fledgeling
> gardener? (Bonus pints if it relates to zone 5, Eastern Ontario.) Best I
> can say so far is that my intentions are good.
I'm in Zone 6 so have a little more time than you do. I haven't found a
single book that is enough, but I use various websites. Sometimes the seed
company has more info on their website than what can be printed on a seed
packet. In the US, we have Agricultural Extension services in every state;
they can be very helpful *if* they are oriented to home gardeners. I don't
know if you have them in Canada, but you might want to check out the
extension sites for Michigan and (northern) Pennsylvania. They are not a
source for "cutting edge" advice, but they are a useful basic source.


quietann at gmail.com

aka "The Accidental Jewess"

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list