As I mentioned in a previous post, I started a bunch of vegetables from seed earlier this month. I'm not going to lie, I did so with a certain amount of trepidation. I'm definitely new to this whole seed-starting business, save for a couple of attempts last year. In spring 2012, I planted cayenne peppers and basil, and......let's just say I'm batting 1-1.
The cayenne peppers did great. Me being a silly noob, I dumped the entire seed packet into some soil, and wound up with waaay more plants than I could manage. I ended up giving away a lot of pepper plants to friends and family.
The basil, however, was a complete disaster, to put it quite bluntly. I again dumped the entire seed packet into soil, but after a month or so, the little basil plants weren't looking so hot. They were limp, leaf surfaces were covered in a curious white film, and leaf tips looked like they'd been scorched with a lighter. I had no idea what the hell was going on until it was too late: it was an attack of the dreaded spider mite! It was my first ever skirmish with a garden pest, and I got pummeled.
In spite of my mixed bag of seed-starting experiences, I've always been the "go big or go home" sort, and I planted lots o' thangs this season. I mean, why the hell not, right?
Above: habanero, bell and jalapeño peppers.
How do you like my ghetto-fab plant markers made from shish kabob skewers and scrap paper?--lol! Also note how I resisted the urge to dump entire seed packets into my seed-starting flats. It took a lot of restraint, let me tell you. My instinct tells me that if they give you X number of seeds, it's because you need to plant X number of seeds. Obviously my instinct is wrong in this instance. I started these guys indoors under a grow light.
Remember that little mouse problem I told you about? Well, it's still a little mouse problem. >:( Peppermint oil and ultrasonic rodent repellents didn't do jack, so I waived a white flag of defeat, and retreated to my second floor balcony (which the mice don't seem to know exists). I took all my cold season edibles with me. The spinach pictured above, and all the other seedlings pictured below, now reside on that balcony.
I'm not too pleased about the situation. Although it's an east-facing balcony, my street is lined with 100-year-old oak trees. Besides blocking out precious sunlight with their big, dumb branches, the oak trees drop dozens of tiny acorn bombs onto my fragile little seedlings each day. Texas experienced one of the worst droughts in our state's history in the summer of 2011, and scientists hypothesize that the acorn deluge is the oak trees' way of perpetuating their species before global warming kills us all. I guess oak trees aren't so dumb after all.
Back to my seedlings. So basically, acorn bombs = broken seedling stems = frustration and anger. I'm currently conjuring up ways to protect my little seedlings from the acorn onslaught. It's always something, isn't it, Nature? *waves angry fist* More on that in another post.
Above: kale and romaine.
Above: very thickly sown arugula.
I did this purposely; I did not act on my seed-sowing compulsion this time, I promise. Pre-mouse invasion, I had grand plans of creating a beautiful pallet vegetable garden on my patio. My friend, Crystal, even procured pallets from her job for me, specifically for this purpose. Thanks to Mickey and friends, it looks like that ain't happening. And now I have too many arugula seedlings that require heavy thinning.
Last but not least, my personal favorite, rainbow swiss chard.