May 14, 2006

The best laid plans...

For months I had been looking forward to the lovely sunny day in mid-may when I would pick up my seedlings at the organic urban farm that is also a women's shelter and spend the whole weekend setting up my garden. This was clearly not meant to be. It has been raining for about 5 days straight and according to it's going to rain HARD for another 10 days.

I did pick up the plants which was sort of fun and sort of a miserable, drippy, muddy, experience. The setting is truly urban which I find really cool -- a farm in the middle of the 'hood -- but, the weather and the trudging through mud to find my seedlings was not what I was expecting.

The main problems with this weather are:

1) You are not supposed to go in the garden when its wet.
This has to do with the fact that soil will get really compacted if you step on it but, it can also spread diseases and hurt the plants in other ways. For this reason you're always supposed to do whatever weeding or planting or whatever you need to do BEFORE you water. Watering is always the last step. So, for goodness sake, stay out of the garden when its wet! Visiting to observe is ok but do not touch anything!

2) The seedlings really want to be in some warm garden soil.
Right now the seedlings are all on my front porch, under a metal table with a black trash bag over them to keep them warm. Sounds pretty crappy doesn't it? The friendly and competent people at the farm said the plants will be ok but, for how long is what I'm wondering. When plants are small and out of their comfort zone they can die or get attacked by diseases or pests. You know how when you watch those tv shows with lions hunting elk or something. It's always the babies or the sickly, skinny suckers who get killed. That's just how it is with plants so I'm pretty nervous. I want to bring some of the more heat-loving seedlings indoors (tomatoes and eggplants and peppers) but, I don't want to shock their little systems. The temperature in the farm is not at all like the temperature in my house and I don't want them to lose whatever hardiness they've developed in the tough outdoors by introducing them to warmth and American Idol. If I do that then there's a good chance they'll be too weak when it's time to go into the garden. I think I'll bring them in for a little bit and then go back and forth for a while.

On other garden-related news:

I have nominated myself to run for the Steering Committee of my Community Garden. It may be the only way I can keep my sink!! Stay tuned for reports of serious campaigning. I don't think there will be any televised debates but, you never know.


John said...

Walking in the garden after a rain isn't always a bad thing. After a soaking rain, it's best to wait a while so you avoid slipping and disturbing the plants, but, after a light rain or watering, it'sperfectly okay to be in the garden. The moisture loosens the soil and makes weeding easier.
Planting sets and transplanting after a light rain or watering is a good idea too. The plants are less likely to show any transplant shock and start rooting right away. Afterwards, watering with liquid kelp solution will make them stand right up and ensure success.
How much water it takes to soak the soil will vary according to soil type. you know your garden best so, use your own judgement on that.

Black Eyed Susan said...

Thanks John! I really appreciate the advice. I gotta get me some kelp!