Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Inattentive Gardener Experiment

I'm trying a new experiment this year - what I'm calling the no records, no special attention version of seed starting.

At first, this was unintentional. I planted tomato and pepper seeds in reused flats, but I didn't have my stash of reused plant markers on hand to write the types of seeds planted in each row. Then I went away of vacation for a week and then tried to catch up on all the work I'd missed for another week - the seed tray was still on the kitchen table, unlabeled and unwatered. To my surprise, after three weeks of utter neglect, the tomatoes had sprouted!

Taking this as a good sign, I then planted another tray of seeds, also that I didn't bother to label. But this time, I moved the trays to the sunny but unheated front porch. I know that gardening books say to use supplemental lighting and keep the temperature reasonably warm (or quite warm if you want your pepper seeds to germinate) - but I thought I'd like to find out if seedlings can handle the microclimate and sunlight levels on the porch, without needing extra energy.

Little bits of green

I'm hoping that with a few years of experience gardening under my belt, I'll be able to identify the seedlings when they are ready to plant outside; last year, I confused some cucumbers seedlings for squash and ended up with a funny-looking squash patch.

If my inattentive seed-starting experiment works, it's a frugal success story. It it doesn't and I end up with spindly, leggy seedlings, then I'll know better for next time.


  1. Interesting! We have a few random mini-flats crowding our pantry and kitchen counters and have nowhere outdoors to put them yet (it's been that chilly in France, believe it or not). I am exposing them to cool air every day by cracking the windows a bit before I leave for the work and hoping that soon the weather will improve enough to leave them outside during the day. It's the first time we've done flats like this and the little sprouts look nothing like I would expect the plants to look. So we'll see how they all grow and if I can keep them straight. :-) Happy spring!

    1. The sprouts start looking a little more normal once the first set of true leaves come out. Your trick of cracking the windows is a good idea - I'll have to keep that in mind, as New England weather is notoriously unpredictable. Hope it warms up for you soon!