English Lavender Seedlings

Where the Hell Have You Been, You Son of a Bitch?

This whole week has been a blur. A really strange, confusing blur. And now as this global pandemic reaches national disaster level, it looks like my working situation will be drastically altered for the time being.

For the last 48 hours, I’ve spent my time at home working, cleaning, decluttering, and preparing my home office for what seems to be an undetermined time there. It’s one thing to be at the office dealing with all the stress and stupidity, but then to have it invade my home, my sanctuary is wholly something else. So I’m trying to think of ways to separate the two while they reside under the same roof.

While I’ve been cleaning my office though, I’ve been evaluating the seedlings that have made the top shelf in my office their home. That’s when I found two tiny seedlings, one not much bigger than a pinhead.

For anyone who has attempted to grow lavender from seed, you probably know how extremely difficult these are. Not only do they have a long stratification period, but they have a long germination period, putting growth time from seed to seedling at around 60 days at minimum.

But just as I was about to give up on these guys, I opened up the plastic produce bag they were stored in (to keep the growing conditions warm and humid) and discovered two tiny specks of green.

I felt… relief. And surprise. Because considering the seed company was clear about the 30% germination rate, I was still determined to try. And even though I was about to give up, Mother Nature rewarded me at the last minute.

Let’s just hope I can keep them alive from now on.

Vegetable Garden Progress Week 9

What’s Growing On: Week 9

It’s been another 3 weeks since my last update. The weather has still been mostly cold and occasionally rainy. We’ve had some freezing temperatures some nights, and some days in the upper 60s. Like typical Texas, the weather has been all over the place.

Watering Schedule and Incorporating an Irrigation System

Last weekend, I checked on the status of the garden and I realized that my radishes are much smaller than they should be at about this time. In fact, according to the seed packet directions, they should be ready for harvest right about now. However, from what I can tell, they’re just now showing signs of their true leaves and their bulbs are still pretty weak and spindly. What gives?

After much research, I realized they’ve been under-watered.

I looked back through the precipitation records for my area at Wunderground and what I thought seemed like a weekly occurrence of rain for almost a month turned out to be an average of less than half an inch of rain per week. That was well below the recommended watering requirements for radishes. That’s when I realized I really needed to make watering an automatic thing.

I purchased a small garden irrigation kit from Dripworks last weekend. It shipped fast and literally arrived on my doorstep yesterday afternoon, so I’ve only opened the boxes and flipped through the catalog they included in the package, but at some point I’ll probably write a post about the setup.

Running Out of Indoor Growing Space

My indoor growing inventory has gone from a few seedlings here and there to a whole arsenal of plants including pollinator flowers. You can imagine how my limited indoor growing space has gone from manageable to completely out of control. All of my seed starts sit on a shelf in my office, but lately it’s expanded to another shelf with two auxiliary grow lamps propped up in whatever way I can get them to stay. My potting table is actually my craft desk. I can’t count how many times potting soil has ended up on the floor.

I’m starting to consider alternatives, like moving my seed starting to the garage. The only thing is the cats love to nose around out there as well. We also have limited electrical outlets and I’ll need one dedicated to grow lamps. Yet another project on the horizon.

What We’ve Harvested and What We’ve Planted

Because of the cold weather and my inconsistent watering, growth has been a little stunted. However, I have managed to harvest some lettuce for a lovely salad and kale for a mushroom pasta dish. I’m also harvesting herbs on a regular basis. Below is an egg dish that I made using chopped ham, a touch of yogurt, chopped mushrooms, and fresh herbs.

A bowl showing a mixture of egg, chopped ham, fresh herbs, and yogurt.
Baked egg with chopped herbs, ham, mushrooms, and yogurt.
Baked egg dish showing the crusty golden top.

Despite some of the challenges, I’m continuing to plant as scheduled. Here’s what’s sowed into the garden and indoors:

  • Nutri-red carrots
  • Green onions
  • Shallots
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Spinach
  • Golden wax bush beans
  • Tendergreen bush beans

What’s Growing On: Week 6

We’re entering week 6 of our first spring garden. If you want to go back to my previous update, Week 3, click here. Last weekend we finally finished filling up the raised garden bed. I marked out the grid with some twine and started planting some cold weather vegetables like lettuce, French Breakfast radish, and carrots. This weekend I also added spinach, green onions, shallots, and sugar snap peas.

We still have a lot of leftover soil, so we filled about 5 20-gallon fabric pots with some of it and transplanted some Lacinato kale and Premier kale. I’m not sure what’s going to go in the other pots at this point, but I like having the extra space.

Also several of my indoor seed starts are taking off. I’ve moved my eggplant and basil into larger pots. I set them out on the front porch to get a little late afternoon sun.

I have more than enough eggplant happening here so I’m giving one pot to my mom.
I also have a lot of basil going on here as well, but no one can ever have too much basil.

My pepper plants are also getting their second set of true leaves so they they’ll graduate into larger pots as well. Pretty soon I will need another location for a grow light setup to accommodate taller seedlings and young plants because as you can see in the photo below, some of my peppers are outgrowing the height of the current grow light, which is only setup for smaller seedlings.

Various peppers showing 4 weeks of growth.

I’m so pleased with how everything is coming along. The only thing that could ruin it right now is some freezing winter weather, like what they’re predicting this week.

Below freezing temperatures on Wednesday and wintry mix! Luckily I saw far ahead enough and was able to order this 10′ x 50′ package of garden fabric and some flexible garden hoops. I don’t have much to cover, but hopefully I won’t need to use all of it or any of it.

What’s Growing On: Week 3

It’s the third week of the new year. This 3-day weekend was desperately needed especially considering how stressful work has been lately. It wouldn’t be a time for R&R for me though. We had a truck load of limestone rock and and vegetable planting soil delivered Saturday morning so I knew there would be a lot of sweat and hard work in the days ahead.

As far as what I have growing in my indoor growing station, here’s a rundown:

Vegetables

  1. Lettuce Mixture
  2. Nadia Hybrid Eggplant
  3. California Wonder Pepper
  4. Goliath Pepper
  5. Red Cherry Pepper
  6. Garden Salsa Pepper
  7. Large Cayenne Pepper

Herbs

  1. Basil
  2. Cilantro
  3. Sage
  4. Parsley
  5. Thyme
  6. Chive (did not germinate, restarting)
  7. Oregano (poor germination, restarting)
  8. Lavender

Flowers

  1. Empress of India Nasturtiums
  2. Peach Melba Nasturtiums
  3. Johnny Jump-Ups
  4. Milkweed
  5. Echinacea

Yes, I have A LOT going on right now. In fact, many of them are already well into their first set of true leaves so I need to move them into larger pots. Luckily last week I placed a huge order of various nursery pots and I just bought a bag of perlite so I’m ready to do some transplanting.

Getting seedlings past the cotyledon stage is a little scary as this is the time when the seedling is still in the early stages of development and the most vulnerable to damping-off disease. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent inspecting all of my seedlings each morning and night these past few weeks to make sure each one of them are growing healthy and strong, free of mold and foreign growth.

My sage, still in its infant stages, but already developing it’s characteristic true leaves.

Now we’re entering the 6th week before the average last frost date. This weekend, along with filling the raised bed, I’m going to start tomatoes and potatoes. The kind of potatoes I bought are actually called “true seed” (Clancy Potatoes) in that they start as actual coated seed and not tubers.

A capsule of true potato seeds

Unlike tuber potatoes, true seed potatoes can be started indoors around the same time as tomatoes. Once they’re established, you can transplant them into the garden and grow them just like regular potatoes.

Next are tomatoes: Suncherry Xtra Sweet, Super Sweet 100, and Better Boy. I plan on putting those into starter pots this weekend as well.

I’m also going to move my lavender from cold storage onto a germination mat. I’ve learned to do a little bit of research for each seed I start because each one is different, especially lavender. Lavender seeds in particular need to undergo a process called cold wet stratification. This process replicates that of a cold winter and triggers the germination stage in the seed (watch this video for reference).

From what I’ve learned, the stratification time for lavender ranges between 30-40 days, but some have achieved success in just 3 weeks. I’m going to see if I can get to 3 weeks by using grow lights and a germination mat. Maybe I should start a backup batch just in case.

With all this new seed I’m starting, the stuff in progress above is going to need somewhere to go. That’s why I bought this 3′ x 3′ outdoor cold-frame storage. It arrived a few days ago but I haven’t assembled it yet, so I’m hoping to get to it this weekend as well. Daytime temperatures will start getting into the 60s this weekend which means this would be the perfect time to start hardening off some of these little seedlings.

How to Manage Squeaky Wheels

I had a tough day at work today.

I don’t write about my job often. I hate talking about my job, period, unless it’s to someone that’s in my industry. Because industry people, they get it. They understand the tediousness, the insane clients, the long hours, the ridiculous demands, the “Oh, god, it’s Monday again” feeling.

Non-industry people, especially non-website savvy people, never get it. And anytime I have to gripe about work, I feel like I have to give a lesson on how the Internet functions or how databases and PHP make a website work first before I can get to my story.

But today. Today was so frustrating that I had to tell Craig about it and I had to do a lot of talking, which I rarely do.

I think what was most frustrating is I was dealing with things that could’ve been avoided. They were simple relationship management things that, had been done, wouldn’t have taken up any more of our time.

But like most overworked, underpaid employees do, we give the squeaky wheel the grease. Then we’ll move on to the next one.