Simply Grateful Gardener

Gardening To Fill The Pantry!

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Tomato Seedling Masacre

Gardening takes patience. This is indeed a fact.

I have little to no patience. This too is a fact.

The fact that these two facts contradict nearly led to complete disaster.

This year after I planted my seeds for tomatoes and peppers, I placed them in a greenhouse in the kitchen and put a small heater inside to boost their growth and keep them warm. Now, I know that there are three things seedlings need to grow: Food, warmth, and light. With gardening it’s really all or nothing — the best two out of three just doesn’t cut it.

The food was no problem as I watered them as soon as I planted and then every couple of days or as needed after that. The warmth was no problem because the space heater had a thermostat on it that would turn off automatically once the greenhouse hit between 75 and 80 degrees. Light, well this wasn’t so easy. Sure I kept the blinds open on the window that the greenhouse was in front of, but there was not nearly enough light for a long enough period of time during the day to really be of any help. I looked into buying some grow-lights but they were more money than I wanted to spend, so I held my breath, crossed my fingers, and waited.

It didn’t take long for the seedlings to sprout and within just a few days they were tall and leggy, not what you really want when growing tomatoes or peppers.

March 23-2a

Anxious to remedy the legginess of my tomatoes, I began transplanting some of the seedlings almost immediately into larger containers, burying the long, thin stalk almost to the leaves.

March 23-5

I did this before they even had their second leaves. Big mistake!

April 18-1 April 18-3

After a week about half of my transplants died and within two weeks all but one was gone.

Patience where fore art thou?

Not my most stellar moment as a gardener.

Thankfully I only rushed into transplanting the Beefsteak tomatoes and half the Mariglobe. I left the remaining Mariglobe and Better Boy for another week or so, not because I wanted to, but rather because I didn’t have time. When I finally got to them, they had their second leaves.

So far only about 25% of those have died. Most of the ones still living have gained their third set of leaves and are growing happily on the dining room table.

April 10-2 April 10-3

I replanted some Beefsteak and have them in the greenhouse. Once they sprouted I turned off the heater and now they are sitting in there until their third leaves come out and they are ready to be transplanted. I don’t want to take a chance on losing them again.

April 18-6

At this point I really can’t afford to lose any more plants or I won’t have enough to fill the garden and pots I have planned for them which could mean there won’t be enough tomatoes to can everything on my Tomato Canning To Do List.

The good thing about having basically two different crops of tomatoes though is I hopefully won’t be bombarded with tons of tomatoes that will all need to be canned at the same time. Spacing out my crops might just work to my advantage — gotta find something positive out of this whole experience. Work with me on this!

As for the peppers, well I was much more patient with them. Again, patience was not necessarily the reason — time played a major factor as well. I transplanted only the jalapeno before they had their third leaves. Although they went into shock after being transplanted, they have recovered nicely and now have begun to grow again and new leaves are spouting.

All the other peppers were transplanted after they had their third leaves and they are quite healthy and getting nice and bushy. Looks like I’ll probably have more pepper plants than I’ll need, which is a good thing seeing as I still have to harden them off before transplanting into the garden and that gives me more than ample opportunity to kill them.


A hard lesson to learn, but at least I haven’t killed everything and I had time enough to replant what I did, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.