Monday, May 12, 2014

Cucumbers Sown, Peppers Beheaded & Sunflower Update

I’m almost 2 weeks behind in starting my cucumber transplants, so I finally got cracking this past week.

Cucumbers are supposed to be very sensitive to root disturbance – this tells me that I should use a larger pot than a typical cell pack to start the seeds.  But larger pots take up much more space than cell packs, not to mention the extra seed starting mix needed to fill them, so I only use them when necessary.  Now, I suppose I could wait and sow the seeds outside instead of bothering with transplants.  But our growing season is already too short for my liking - if I can get a longer harvest period by using transplants, then that is what I usually do.

The question is – IS it necessary to use larger pots when starting cucumber seeds?  I decided that I was going to find out.

I am growing 3 types of cucumbers this year – “Suyo Long”, “Lemon” and “Garden Sweet Burpless”.  For each variety, I sowed seeds in one cell of a cell pack.  I need 8 cucumber seedlings in total, so the remaining 5 starts were sown in individual 3” pots.  Then the cell pack/pots were placed on the covered heat mat.

Germination took place in only 3 days.  Once I transplant these out into the garden later this month, I will label them so that I know which ones grew in the pots & which grew in the cell packs.  Then, it's just a matter of noting any significant difference between them.


Cucumber Seedlings - 3 Days After Sowing
 
Out in the garden, I sowed a couple of rows of radishes (white & red) around the collards.  I'm not sure if they will germinate or not as I had incorporated soybean meal into the entire bed.  Soybean meal apparently inhibits seed germination by up to 50% which is why “they” (I’m never really sure who “they” are) advise to only use it when you are sowing transplants.  For me, radishes are nice to have but not essential, so I figured it was worth a shot.  Best case, they germinate and I know that I don’t have worry about this in the future when it comes to radishes.  Worst case, it becomes a learning experience & I sow radishes in another bed.

On to my pepper plants.  I was so excited when I went downstairs last week and found little tiny flower buds on some of my peppers.



Beautiful Buds
 
And then I promptly pinched off the tops of all the plants that had formed buds.  If I let those few buds mature, chances are that my plants would end up being smaller overall with fewer fruits.  It takes a lot of energy to produce peppers – energy that would be better spent, at this stage in their lives, on growing a better root system & stockier plant with more branching.  So I am being ruthless.


Off With Their Heads!!
 
Remember the sunflowers I sowed in the soil that I talked about HERE?  Well, 2 weeks later and NOTHING.  My notes said that germination should take place in 5-10 days, so I knew something must have gone wrong, but what?  I even dug into the soil to see what had happened.  In one cup, I found this sad, small sunflower seed that looked very much the same as when I had planted it, only softer.  In the other, I couldn’t even find the seed – maybe it disintegrated - who knows?  Uh oh, I was thinking.  I probably got a bad batch of seeds.

I decided to try pre-germinating them.  Even though I only wanted 2 plants, I placed 6 seeds in a damp paper towel (because OBVIOUSLY there was a high germination failure rate) & placed this on a container in my heat mat tray.

Well, two days later, EVERY SINGLE SEED germinated.  Every one.  In two days.  I was a bit shocked.  I sowed the germinated seeds & two days after that, they all emerged from the soil.


Sunflower - 2 Days After Sowing Germinated Seeds
 
So I sit here baffled – I have absolutely NO idea what happened when I sowed them the 1st time.  What I DO know, is that I will add sunflowers to the list of plants that I pre-germinate.

The gardening season is now in high gear, at least when it comes to sowing, transplanting, etc.  My front porch is seeing a lot of hardening off action.
 
Mass Hardening Off Has Started
 
I am now hardening off my tomatoes, basil, borage, nasturtium, marigolds, swiss chard and parsley.

Some of the beds that these plants will go into are not yet built, but we are over half-way there.  We are adding a total of nine beds.  Six of them are constructed & filled - only 3 more to go!  And the weather in the last few days has been absolutely maaaarvelous….FINALLY!!  With highs in the mid 20’s (C) which, in Fahrenheit is the mid-high 70’s, it is perfect gardening weather.

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

2 comments:

  1. You know it's close to planting time when you see porch-fuls of transplants learning to like the real world. We're a tad over 2 weeks to go--and I see they (haha--THEY!) are calling for snow on Friday. Bummer for all the things that have emerged on their own in the garden. But, a lot of the time , those self sown plants are tough as nails. Could be a lesson in that (?????)
    Have a fine day in the garden

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    1. Ugh – snow in May?! Hopefully it’s just a light dusting & all of your emerging plants will just shake it off (literally!). We are finally having some good weather (well, except that it is raining right now), but I see that later in the week we are getting lows in the low 40’s – even 39°C on one day. I’m supposed to be transplanting a bunch of warm weather stuff next Monday – Guess I will have to wait and see if I have to hold off on setting them out.

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