Seed Starting Update

My little seed-starting experiment is humming along nicely. Maybe a bit too well, actually. I started my first batch of tomatoes (“Mortgage Lifter”) on March 12th. Let’s just say they’ve been enthusiastic growers…

Tomato “Mortgage Lifter”

These tomatoes are close to a foot high. Today is April 19th. I don’t think I have to wait until the Victoria Day weekend to plant them out, but given the fact that we had snow squalls here on Saturday, it’s not going to be any too soon. Thankfully, my father was kind enough to build me a cold frame a couple weeks ago, so I should be able to transfer them out there shortly.

Even though they’re pretty huge, all of the tomatoes are healthy looking, and seem to be developing good strong stems. I usually put an oscillating fan on them for an hour or more every day, to help develop strength in the stems (apparently the motion of bending back and forth in the wind stimulates them so that they grow sturdier stalks.)

Here’s a shot of my entire operation:

 The reason the light stand is encased in snow fencing?

Pepper aka Plant-eating-cat

Her name is Pepper. She thinks plants of all kinds are delicious.

Snow fencing seemed like a good idea, and so far it’s working. A little bit of a pain every night when I water and check in on everything, but at least the plants are all in tact.

I have another variety of tomato growing–Bloody Butcher–which I started on March 19th. They’re a little more manageable in size.

Tomato “Bloody Butcher”

My Aunt Mollys’ Ground Cherries (or Physalis  pruinosa) is coming along ok. They’re supposed to (according to the websites I read) grow like tomatoes, but I’m finding that they’re a lot slower growing. I planted them on March 19th, just like the Bloody Butcher tomatoes, and they’re so much smaller I haven’t even transplanted them up to individual pots yet.

‘Physalis pruinosa’  or Ground Cherries

And lastly, I have some Clematis ‘Radar Love’ going, along with some Turkey Grass.

Clematis ‘Radar Love’ on the left, Turkey Grass on the right.

I had a bit of excitement the other night when one of the shop lights I had just purchased (to replace one of the original set that my friend gave me with the light stand) started smoking. I quickly unplugged it, check to see that the light tube was in properly, and plugged it in again. This time it started smoking from the other end! So that one’s going back to Home Depot (sorry HD, I keep trying your lighting products and I keep having problems–smoke coming out of a fixture freaks me out.) I picked up another shop light at Lowe’s the other night and it seems to be doing much better (looks to be built a bit sturdier too.)

I bought new flourescent tubes too, after reading what Ken Brown had to say about which kinds were best (hint: cheap works just fine, thank you). 

The other interesting thing I learned was that playing with tomato plants doesn’t agree with my skin. I couldn’t figure out why the backs of my hands were so itchy and had little bumps on them, until I did my nightly watering & check-up and figured it out.

It’s a small price to pay for the fun of watching things grow (and it’s a good thing I have this to play with inside, as someone seems to have forgotten to tell mother nature to knock off the snow!)

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