boom boom, out go the plants

As with most any aspect of life, knowing your strengths and weaknesses and using that knowledge can make things a whole lot happier for you.

Over the years, I’ve observed that generally I can grow better tomato and pepper seedlings of the varieties I want than I can buy at the local greenhouse. By the same token, there are a lot of seedlings offered at the grower’s that make my efforts look sad.

I try to play to my strengths. Cole crop seedlings bought from the local greenhouse always always seem to be much more robust than those that I grow. Same with some lettuces. I don’t know why, and don’t much care.

It’s perfectly fine by me. I’d rather buy healthy seedlings (even if maybe some artificial helps might be used in growing them…I don’t ask) than nurse along sub-par seedlings using my limited indoor light space. I’m not looking to be organically certified. I know what I put into my soil and onto my plants, and none of it is synthetic chemicals. But there’s no point starting out with sickly plants.

Enough philosophy.

Dirt. Now that’s real.

IMG_4641 IMG_4642

I hadn’t planned on planting a large chunk of the garden yesterday. But a look at the 10-day forecast was all it took to get the juices flowing irretrievably. It was off to the greenhouse for some of those maybe (but probably not) organic seedlings.

In went the cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and some lettuce plants. I basically covered the tilled ground with most of my stash of shredded leaves from last fall, then made planting holes through the leaves.

Uh. That’s frightening. No-till with twice the work, plus tilling. I may need to listen to my good friends who’ve been commenting that permanent mulch is a really great system.

A couple of concerns about permanent mulch systems; planting seeds in permanent mulch still seems a little clunky to me. We’ll see.

I’m not sure where green manures would fit into a permanent mulch system either. I don’t believe that a permanent mulch of mostly leaves would provide all the nutrients that certain plants might need, and green manures work so well. That’s a concern.

Mine’s a fairly large garden, and leaves are the only massive waste resource that’s available. Even with the huge cache of leaves I hoarded last fall, there’s not quite enough to cover the whole plot.

Oh, and the biggest drawback that I see to permanent mulch is that it’ll take forever for the soil to warm up in the spring.  Pulling it all back kinda defeats the ‘permanent’ part of the equation, no?

Still, something to think about and learn. That’s what I love. It never ends.

PS…the old tried and true works pretty well too.

spinach planted last fall and overwintered

spinach planted last fall and overwintered

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12 thoughts on “boom boom, out go the plants

  1. Jealous of your spinach. Too hot for it here — bolts pretty fast. That bowl is making my mouth water. Same with broccoli and other Brassica. I plant them in November on the Gulf Coast. For the spring and summer, I stick with greens that weather the heat. Life in zone 9…

    As for green manure, I have little experience. Fortunately, I have ‘green’ to layer the planting beds 8 months out of the year — it’s called turf grass clippings. I do like to plant a legume crop where the tomatoes were previously, because they take so much from the soil. I love tomatoes, but like roses, they are nutrient hogs!

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  2. There’s something so satisfying about planting a bed in good, smooth dirt. I’m experimenting with the permanent mulch too this year but aesthetically, it bothers me a little. Old dogs…

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  3. Mine too Dan. I put 60 tomatoe plants in the poly yesterday. Two Alicante , two Ailsa Craig, and two Shirley. All strong foot high plants bought at a plant sale. The rest are cherry tomatoes , most are Gardeners Delight, and different varieties grown from seed including yellow, black and purple ones! I have my fingers crossed for these as they are still small . 👒👒👒

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  4. Never used a permanent mulch but if you plant crops through it, perhaps you could sow green manure through it and then chop it down to add to the mulch. Doesn’t sound that aesthetically pleasing, though, does it?

    Anyway, I am sure the seedlings you bought will be organic by the time you eat them, considering the amount of time they have to do so.

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  5. Hey Dan I dont think I’ve ever done a permanent mulch. I am always adding to my soil – growing it so to speak. I always mulch after planting and just love green crops. Laughed when I read your comment about lettuce .. my seedlings are always spindly little suckers. Good luck with that garden.

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    • That sounds just like what I do Julie. Seems to work, doesn’t it? And I’ve never been able to grow lettuce seedlings like that indoors. That’s why I give up and hit the greenhouse 🙂

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