New Plants + Bad Storms = Rough Start to Gardening

 It’s time to place my seedlings in their permanent homes!

All of my veggies were stared from seeds this year. I had an excellent germination rate by combining the forces of the BioDome and Park Seed Co. quality seeds. Germination was so good, in fact, that I was able to plant everything that I wanted and I had a few extra plants to give to my mom.

I also cheated a bit. Many planting guides suggest putting 2-3 seeds in each hole and then thinning the plants when they get bigger. This seems like homicide! So this year I only planted 1-2 seeds per hole and did just fine. When cases allowed it, I preserved the plant I’d normally thin without hurting the plant I intended to keep.

Warning: this is kinda stupid and only recommended in situations where you can clearly see how to save both plants. If your sponge/starter kit looks like the bed below, just thin the plants and cut your loses!

starting vegetable plants from seed
The roots are too intertwined to separate. Just pinch off the plant you don’t want!
If your sponge looks like the one below, with a clearly visible, isolated root system then you might give this little cheating method a try.

starting strawberries from seeds
Don’t kill me. Free me!
First, prepare a damp, empty sponge by cutting it open lengthwise. I used a sponge that had a seedling that didn’t make it. (Cat problems.) Then gently cut the sponge to release the seedling that you would otherwise terminate. Slowly remove the seedling and its roots.

Insert the seedling into the open sponge, being sure to enclose the roots.

Gently pinch the sponge closed and insert it back into the BioDome with plenty of water. Let it mellow for at least a week to give it change to acclimate to its new home and reap the benefits of the controlled environment.

I waited two weeks and the plants did just fine! They were ready for transplant along with their brothers and sisters. I was only able to do this twice but that’s two more food-bearing plants for my garden 🙂

The other transplants were less eventful, thinning the tomatoes and peppers so that only the strongest remained by the time that they reached their permanent homes in the soil.

I was fortunately enough to have my niece and her friend help me put the plants into the garden. It was nice to have little helpers, even if one little niece of mine was more fascinated with the wind through the trees than the garden.

vegetable gardens Atlanta
Hey, that hat is fabulous. You wish you had one!

My fruit were a bit different. I started the strawberry plants from seeds but ordered my blueberries and blackberries as bare root plants. They looked like something out of an Aliens versus Predator movie, all gnarled, twisted and otherworldly. I swear, I walked by them everyday for about two weeks just waiting for them to do something.

stages of blackberry shrub
In the beginning, the blackberry bare root plants look like measly sticks. 

tips for growing a blackberry bush from bare root plant
Then they sprout thick, fuzzy-looking leaves like the red patch at the bottom right.

blackberry bush from bare root plant
Then those weird fuzzy leaves turn into something normal looking like the ones above.

stages of growth blueberry plant
My blueberry bush came as a normal looking bush. It has taken well to its new home.

In any case, we got the plants in the ground just in time for thunderstorms and tornadoes to threaten everything. Yay! NOT. Many of my plants had been in the ground for two weeks but the most recent additions (some peppers) had only been in the ground for three days before “light showers” turned into thunderstorms and tornado warnings on my weather app.

We hadn’t ordered our row covers yet so my husband and I got creative. Alejandro had been taking apart pallets for an upcycled table project. Fortunately, those planks were laying around to help us protect the seeds from heavy rains and winds. We created crossbars over the raised beds and then placed planks over the top to protect the plants from the direct impact of rain and wind. Water would still get through but fortunately it would be dispersed enough to avoid problems. The soil in the raised beds drained well by the next morning and the planks were easy enough to remove.

protecting vegetable garden from storms
The planks were placed directly over the rows of new transplants.

protecting vegetable garden from bad weather
See the little guys hiding out under there?

protecting transplants from bad weather
This way, the hard rainfall won’t beat them into the ground.

For the raised beds with the Florida Weave frames, we just draped a tarp over those and anchored it with little bungee cords. (My husband and in-laws have some of the most helpful, random stuff around this house.)

Our garden got such a bad beat down last year. I am glad that we were able to spare them this time around.

The photos below were taken few days after the thunderstorms. Everyone is starting to perk up! We’ve had warm weather (high 70s to low 80s), so I’ve had to give them plenty of water each morning. I’ll soon add mulch to keep the soil moist with less watering.

growing chives from seed in container garden

The chives are back this year! There are three that have returned and in between there are a few newbies popping up. (They’re too small to see here.) Not sure how the newbies will do but the older plants are doing well. We also have TONS of wild chives in the backyard.
growing herbs basil and cilantro in container garden
On the left are cilantro seedlings and to the right are the basil. They were slow to start from the Parks Seed Co herb tape but once they got going, they’re doing well.  I think I’ll thin them this weekend.They can get 6+ hours of sun on the patio but I sometimes give them shade on 80+ days. They need plenty of water.

growing lettuce from seed

Mixed variety lettuce in a container on my balcony. They were started from seeds and I clearly didn’t do a good job spacing them, or one patch never grew. The plants are about two weeks old.  I water the container twice a day. They’re getting healthier, soon ready to be thinned.

growing spinach in container garden

Spinach in container on my balcony, also about three weeks old. It’s having a tougher time but doing better than last year. 

stages of a strawberry plant

Here’s a strawberry plant, also started from seed, in a container. This little guy will be less than 1′ when fully grown. It’s so fragile now! All the plants grown from seeds turned out that way.

cherry tomatoes in patio garden

This ultra compact cherry tomato plant was crafted for container gardening. It will be about 1′ tall fully grown. The seeds I used for this plant and its three siblings were leftover Park Seed from last year and they’re doing beautifully! I simply stored the leftover seeds in a Ziploc bag and left it in a cool, dry place over the winter.
raised bed garden ideas using railroad ties

These are bell pepper plants that my niece and her friend helped to plant. A few of these were started from seeds that I got last year. I cant’ tell the difference between the new and old seeds! These plants have been in the ground for two weeks but were started indoors about six weeks ago. This photo was taken in the early morning but the plants get more sun throughout the day.
growing tomatoes in raised bed garden

My indeterminate tomatoes are loving their home. Like the peppers, they got a head start indoors for six weeks before I planted them in the ground three weeks ago. Most are strong and tall (about 1’+) and are estimated to get four feet tall or taller.

florida weave support for indeterminate tomatoes

This tomato plant is over 1′ tall. He’s starting to lean and will definitely need support. I’ll start the Florida Weave on this row this weekend.
growing cucumbers in raised bed garden

The plants in these little mounds are the beginnings of three cucumber plants. They’re neighbors with the tomatoes. They are only about a week old, though, since I direct sowed them. They got a slow start during the cooler weather right before the storm and they’re just now starting to show some spunk.  It’s my first time growing cucumbers.

stages of growth for sweet pepper plants

More sweet pepper plants! (The little white strips on the left are where I threw a few pieces of leftover herb tape, basil and cilantro, I think.) That far left row gets the least amount of sunlight, maybe 4-5 hours, so I’m not expecting the plants back there to get very large. 

growing peppers in raised bed

The peppers grow more slowly than the tomatoes so they’re shorter even through they were started indoors at the same time. The stalks are still getting quite strong and tall, 6″-10″ now. They’ve grown several centimeters in the past few days since the storm!

using homemade compost in raise bed gardens
These are extra tomato plants, ones that I didn’t think would survive. They’re coming up strong! I couldn’t toss them out and my mom didn’t want them so Alejandro had the idea to plant them in our compost holding cell. I just transplanted them today so we will see how they do!

Share your thoughts or questions!