Gardening within my budget…sort of!

I’ve been busy!  I have not been able to post for a few days because well, life happens and so does Birthdays!  My oldest whom I’ve mentioned before and who calls himself “the farmer” turned 10 this month and I have been busy planning and having the birthday bash of his first decade!  Being ten in our family is a turning point.  A milestone if I may.  Turning 10 means you are now in the double digits!

Alex

So a shout out to my favourite 10 year old who couldn’t possibly be any funnier, intelligent and sweet!

Thanks for indulging my proud mummy moment!  Now on to other things that continue to grow in my life!  I’ve also been busy with my seeds lately.  It’s my first go round with seeds and I’ve have learned a lot of things.  Some by education and others by mistake 🙂  however, I refuse to give up and the positive side here is all the seeds I have planted so far are still alive!  Woohoo!

I’ve decided to grow quite a few different things this year to see how things go.  Tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, carrots, potatoes and some herbs all of which I will try from seed.  Tomatoes are by far the biggest crop with 5 different varieties.  Some great for popping in your mouth for a snack, some for yummy BLT’s and some for sauce and well, one that I just though was just so pretty that I had to grow it.  It’s called yellow pear and when fully grown and ripe is in the shape of a pear and a golden yellow.  I can’t wait.

I mentioned that I had made some mistakes and although not terribly horrible it was enough to make me stop, question and learn.  First lesson learned was to label my plantings because when you have an almost 10 year old farmer wanting to help Mum by rotating the seed trays for better light, you don’t take into consideration that it becomes a game of pea and shell.  My written schematic was completely void as he mixed up the trays from one side to the other.  The saving grace here is that each square of 9 sections are the same tomato but which tomato?  We will have to wait to find out!  Oh FYI, I went out and bought a box of wooden sticks to ensure future plantings do not become the pea!

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The second lesson?  I started my tomatoes and peppers first back in early March.  I invested in a little coir growing green house that could do 72 seedlings.  I planted 4 of my 5 tomatoes and then the rest were green peppers and Gypsy peppers that are perfect for planters.  After about 3 days, I had sprouts in most of my tomato seeds but the peppers were bare.  I happened to have a wonderful conversation with one of the knowledgeable experts at West Coast Seeds (www.westcoastseeds.com) about my fears and was quickly made to feel at ease.  Both plants require warm soil, tomatoes around 25C and the peppers around 30C.  Peppers take a bit longer to germinate but if I kept them warm, I should see some action in the next week or so.  Many gardening stores carry heat mats just for this type of scenario but I’m on a budget and $30 for a heating pad was just a little too pricey for me this year.  Considering I would require a huge amount of soil for my existing and new garden as well as some new planters to help me this year, I need to find a way to be frugal and to prioritize my needs. Instead of buying the heating mat, I decided to try my heating pad to see if that would make a difference.  It did!  Little pepper shoots arrived in no time.

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My third lesson here was light.  Plants of course require light but I misunderstood exactly how much and the intensity required especially for tomatoes.  My stems looked so fragile and petite and made me wonder if it was a normal progression or if I needed to something else.  So I took a picture and started showing people at work.  The result?  I needed more light or my plants would become spindly and that is NO GOOD!  So off to the internet I went in search of lighting sources and costs.  Ack I say!  The prices for grow lights varied so much.  The only thing in common was that prices started at $85 and went up from there.  Did I need a 2 foot size or a 4 foot?  Did I need it to be portable?  What kind of table top apparatus did I need?  Did I want self watering?  Who knew so off to the phone I went and called West Coast Seeds again.  Being point blank with them about my budget, they suggested a grow light bulb and although not ideal for the amount of plants I had going but it was better than what the current status was.  They so kindly shipped one out to me right away and within a few days, I had it installed into “the farmer’s” reading lamp and positioned as low as possible over the seedlings.  Three days later, a vast improvement, a week later, a lot bigger and stronger.  Now I am happily the proud Mama of healthy tomatoes and peppers!

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