Friday, May 05, 2006

My Indoor Seedlings ang Gardening

It is spring time.  Recently we have had a little bit of showers.  That's what the soil and the plants need.  The surroundings are starting to green up finally.

I started my seedlings about two or three weeks ago.  Here are they now.

I started seedlings during 2nd half of March, because I was afraid they would get too big before I could have a good chance of transplanting them.These are:

first layer - tomatoes, Bellestar variety

second layer - tomatoes, Juliet variety (both were started at the same time with seeds sown in flats.  I transplanted them into small pots when they were showing their first true leaves as big as the false (?)/initial leaves.

third layer - one row of pepper and one row of Marigold.

I ordered my seeds from Johnny's by end of January, and read the instructions at each of the packets to plan how I would time my approach to planting them.

 I started them around the second half of March using flat trays and a heating pad.  Quite late, but that was intended, because last year, I did it quite early, and my seedlings had no room to grow and did not have enough light before I could have a good chance to transplant them.  A good chance means there will be no more possibilities of a frost, and it is warm enough outside to be favorable for growing (in other words, summer time).  My ampalaya plants last year had nowhere to climb onto.  This year, I would plant them outside as soon as the climate is suitable.

A good time indicator for such "chance" timing is Memorial Day.  My MIL has made it a point to remember not to transplant seedlings nor sow seeds outside before that day.

My husband built me this grow shelves, and the fluorescent lights I used here, though they appear like the 40-watt kind that we so commonly use in the Philippine household, these are special grow lights, according to hubby.  I turn them on at least 12 hours a day so the seedlings will not grow long, spindly and weak stems in search of light.

Gardening can eat up a lot of my time. Sometimes I wonder whether the effort is worth it.  While it is true that I can find good-tasting tomato sauce and what-nots in the grocery store, gardening gives me an experience that re-connects me to Mother Earth - the realization that the Earth is what feeds me and sustains me and my family; the fact that I can observe the whole cycle of Earth giving to me and me giving back to Earth by recycling food wastes and turning them into compost; observing the web of life as earthworms thrive in the dirt in my gardens and butterflies swarm around my flower plants, and later on we get pure raw honey; the brief episode of knowing I feed my children, at least during summer, the freshest vegetables there are; and the chance to let my children experience all these at an early age (can you remember how excited you were when you first tried to plant and witnessed its growth up to the point that it gave you fruits?).

One shallow reason for gardening is, it gives my children something to do to keep them busy during summer, aside from sports activities and outdoor plays.  It is a big help to me for them to weed the gardens while I work in my office.  Boring it might be to them, but that is a time when their imagination can run wild instead of being stimulated by TV or computer.  Then they can lie on the grass and stare at the sky, either to daydream or to imagine shapes and figures they perceive as they look at the clouds.

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