In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~Margaret Atwood
In years past, I was a very sloppy flower child. Seeds were something I purchased and either tossed at random in the wind to see what would happen, or put in little pots in such an overcrowded and abandoned environment it’s a miracle of nature anything lived. It did, and I ended up with some beautiful but very wild gardens as a result – no regrets. This year, I decided to pay attention and follow the rules. Not easy for a woman who has spent every moment of her life looking for ways to break rules. Maybe I’m just mellowing with age or maybe I’ve recently come to respect the process of Mother Nature on a much deeper level. Probably a bit of both.
So as I have planted seeds this season, I used seed mix which is a sterile, poofy, non-dirt mix specifically designed for starting seed and I dated all the markers to keep track of germination times. Keeping a close eye on them, I waited until they started to get their “true leaves” (the second set of leaves to pop up) and planned on doing the whole “pricking out” process. I have never done it before, always planting seeds in real dirt and hoping for the best. “Pricking out” just means separating all your sprouted seedlings and putting them in real dirt to get them ready for life in the big bad world of the actual Earth. Here are some of my lettuce sprouts, getting a bit claustrophobic:
Almost all the seeds I planted last month germinated and were ready for pricking out this past weekend. I watered them very well first, so they would easily come out of their little nest and not stick together. Then, with a bamboo skewer over a cookie sheet, I split them apart holding them gently by the leaves.
You don’t want to hold them by root or stem since they are still babies and your strong fingers cause damage.
(that stupid glove only stayed on for about five minutes!)
Then, I gently set them in potting mix (make sure it doesn’t contain any fertilizer since these are still babies) and ever so gently tucked them in.
I watered them well with a little Quick Start stirred in to ease the shock and put them back in the sun. They were pretty hungry and seemed to start growing instantly in the real dirt, no joke. Most of these were lettuces so they went right into their permanent homes (the dresser drawers and wine boxes) but the others will sit a while and grow since they’ll go right in the ground and I want them bigger and stronger first.
This took a good part of my day on Sunday, since I decided to plant so much lettuce this year. Tom and I like to eat the lettuces fairly young so I like to have a lot around. I broke the day up peeking in on Tom who was cooking in the kitchen and drinking a glass of beautiful Beaujolais Nouveau, or two…another wonderful Sunday and a new skill learned in the garden. And even better, I have empty flats just waiting for new seeds!