Saturday, May 6, 2023

Managing Expectations

 This is the time of year when I can get overwhelmed by the enormity of the task of keeping things alive.  All it takes is one bad day.  One bad decision, one lapse in judgement and you have a situation where you have to make significant changes to your plans and gardening expectations.  For the whole year.  Compound that by making commitments to other people.  Then you have to manage their expectations as well.   

Now don't get me wrong.  There have been no gardening catastrophes.  The people I have made promises to wouldn't be terribly upset if things went wrong.  But it troubles my mind and makes me worry more.  I no sooner thought "I hope I don't have any trouble with damping off" than Elsie's tomato seedlings started keeling over.  It was as if I had summoned the negative energy.   And I adjusted quickly.  And now I have a lot of nice little plants.  But this time of year you have to stay on your toes and pay attention.

It was time to start moving things out to the cold frame.  That mess up there ^ in particular.  On the right is a tray of Celosia and sweet peppers.  Growing well.  Need to get out of the way.  To the left are marigolds.  Those were supposed to be germinating out in the cold frame.  But the weather has been too changeable and they were (wisely) biding their time.  So I brought them in to give them a kick.  Now they need to go out.  Unlike the wimpy tomatoes, the Marigolds all had nice roots.

That's what you want to see.  Nice little green leaves right in the center of a tidy cell.  That's not that easy to achieve.  The tomatoes (below) were too leggy.  I missed the best window for transplanting them as I waited for the weather to break so the Peppers, Celosia and Marigolds could go outside, freeing up enough room for a large tray under its own light.

They transplanted OK.  There were no roots to speak of.  In fact, the upper left cell pack in the tray as pictured below had no roots at all!  As I broke seedlings I set them aside and put them all in one cell so I could watch them.  They wilted that day, but its hard to kill a tomato seedling (unless you damp it off then all bets are off) and by the next day they had adjusted and stood back up.

I also had extra of my father's favorite tomato (the Barlow Jap that my PaPaw developed) and two dozen of Elsie's that I seeded the day their brothers damped off.  We all do it.  We plant too many them we can't bear to kill them.  They may as well go out in the cold frame with the Marigolds.  I can keep an eye on two trays as easily as one tray.

These were at the right stage for transplanting.

These were way past time.  But they had good root systems.

May weather has finally straightened around.  Everyone has been complaining that spring is late and Mother Nature is a kook.  As a gardener, I think I have more realistic expectations of April.  I know that a week of summer weather in April does not mean summer is here and the weather will continue to trend upwards.  Anything can happen.  It can freeze in June.  I would don't mind a wet, gloomy April so things can grow and get a good foothold, but when May arrives I want no funny business. I can tolerate some cold nights, but I'm ready to get going.

I spent all day yesterday tidying up after a week of cool, wet weather.  Today I need to go around and apply slug bait and reapply deer repellent.  My perennials arrived from Bluestone Perennials this week and most of those can go in the ground now.  Then I may see about getting my dahlia tubers out of storage and into some trays in the cold frame.

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