Saturday, April 11, 2009

We've planted!

Today I got serious about developing my green thumb. I've already had two mishaps this season--first was the newly-sprouted basil plant that hubby knocked over. Second was the sunflower seeds that my daughter and I planted a few weeks ago that never sprouted but molded instead. Turns out that there was no drainage hole in the container, and nothing in the instructions telling me to add one. And duh, maybe I should have known, but I didn't.

In any case, now I know a lot more (as a result of doing a lot of reading, and speaking with folks from the University of Washington's Master Gardener program). So today my daughter and I planted lettuce, basil, chives, parsley, and more sunflowers, using seed starter kits. The sunflower kit once more had no drainage hole, but this time we added it. In about two more weeks, we'll start our tomato seeds, and that will be it for this year, except for a fall lettuce planting. After everything sprouts and grows a few inches (in about a month's time), they should be ready to be transplanted outdoors. If we do well this year, next year I'll add additional veggies.

The good news is that by chance I picked the right lettuce. I just grabbed a pack that said, "loose leaf," because I heard that if you can pick it by the leaf, you can harvest it faster than lettuce that grows by the head. It turns out that I picked black seed simpson lettuce, which is a heirloom variety, meaning it was originally grown in an earlier period of human history, before mass-scale agriculture. Many people are trying to preserve heirloom crops, which often can't be purchased in grocery stores. Black seed simpson apparently is one of the tastiest lettuces and easiest to grow (although fragile for transporting, which is why stores don't carry it).

The bad news is that our huge backyard and beautiful terrace, with the great view of Puget Sound, face north, the orientation which provides edibles with the least amount of sunlight. In addition, our only big, unobstructed windows also face north. According to the UW gardeners, we therefore need to place our containers in our tiny southern-facing front yard if we want them to get enough sun. In the meantime, the seeds starts are in one of the northern-facing windows, since that's the only place they can go, and I have a desk lamp with a swivel head shining on them to provide additional light.

Oh, and by the way: the lamp (and several of my gardening supplies) were purchased at local thirft shops. So this is another plug to encourage you to sign the petition for a National Thrift Shop Month. :)

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