A glimpse under the grow lights – April 7th (or Survival of the fittest and vegetable infanticide…)

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Nova Scotia continues to be buried in feet, yes FEET, of white stuff. In fact, we woke up to another 5-10 cms this morning.  Usually by this time we are prepping early beds, assembling poly tunnels and seriously considering planting the early veggies outdoors under cover (peas, kale, bok choy, onions, beets, carrots, chard and spinach)…not this year. There is some hope in that the temperatures are warming up and there has been some melting but at this rate I am afraid it will be a very, very late start to the garden. Thankfully the grow lights are shining away and the early starts are doing well – the veggie babies may not have a nice dirty outdoor place to move into before they peak, but they seem happy for now.

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Potted up veggies, herbs and flowers patiently waiting under the lights until they can move outdoors.

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Columbine reaching for the light.

Many have been potted up to larger pots and some have graduated to another location with less direct light as we have started to run out of space under the lights.  My wee girl has a nice sunny window and found a little greenhouse unit that has moved into her bedroom as well for her maturing flowers(she simply had to have it…and I simply couldn’t say no…) !!

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She simply HAD to have it!! We added some lights to the bottom for a little something extra…

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A few of my Wee girl’s Coleus plants happy in the sunshine! (This is about half of them…oooops!)

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Chamomile, Impatiens and Rudbeckia – also in her greenhouse…ahem…bedroom…

We have had some casualties, sadly. This weekend, as we were potting up seedlings and starting new seeds (the 6-8 week prior crowd), we found many seedlings that had been burnt by organic seaweed fertilizer. Yup, unintentional vegetable infanticide. We had diluted the fertilizer even more than the directions had stated and waited until at least 2 sets of leaves had grown, but it was still too strong and in the end, only the strong survived….fail.  The bok choi and chard were hit the hardest, with jalapeños suffering a fair amount as well.  The cauliflower and broccoli fared somewhat better, with the strongest seedlings overcoming the weaker ones.  Survival of the fittest. And unfortunately this is the second year in a row we managed to do this…double fail.

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Damage from the fertilizer – discolouration and stunted growth. I am not sure if they will pull through. Has anyone else had this issue?

My wee girl was pretty sad and after we gave the lost seedlings a little burial in the compost bin we had a big chat about the circle of life. I never expected that gardening would lead to philosophical discussions of life, death and the afterlife, but am glad that I had the opportunity for this talk to happen over vegetables before she really has to deal with a loss of someone close. So as we continue to wait, and wait, and wait for the snow to melt, at least I can pass on a few life lessons and we can peek under the lights (instead of under frost blankets) to see what’s poking up!

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“Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” ~ Rafiki (after bonking Simba on the head – probably what I deserve!

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30 thoughts on “A glimpse under the grow lights – April 7th (or Survival of the fittest and vegetable infanticide…)

  1. We had over a foot of snow here recently and it was gone in a week. I hope the same goes for you.. Very soon! Your baby plants look so healthy and hearty… You have a lot of planting to look forward to. Sorry about the seaweed poisoning, disappointing:(

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    • Thanks Cynthia! I think perhaps it was Mother Nature’s way of telling me I went a bit overboard (and a bit early) this year…fingers crossed our snow melts as fast as yours did! I am running out of winter topics to write about…

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  2. I can’t say I’ve ever overdone the fertilizer but I wouldn’t worry if I were you. boy oh boy you don’t seem to have any trouble growing plants. a little extra fertilizer is not a big issue when you’ve got such an obvious green thumb. What an amazing selection you’ve got going. My basil and tomatoes have only just started, haven’t even gotten flowers planted. Now i’m thinking I should get cracking…

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    • Hi Marguerite! I have a feeling we may have started far too early this year…I am usually hardening off the winter greens and asian greens by now to plant them in the tunnels and free up space under the lights for marigolds, zinnias, snapdragons and portalucas (the pretty parts of the veggie beds…) My husband thinks he is going to get kicked out of our room and our sunny window next for the plants! Your Black Plum seeds just got planted late last week and poked up in 3 days on the heat mats – they look very happy so far! I will not fertilize them, I promise I have learned my lesson this year…

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    • Me too! No snow so far today, thank goodness….I love coleus too, the leaves are so beautiful and unique and their seeds were so easy to collect and save, I think we have enough for the next 10 years!

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  3. I’ve never seen such healthy coleus’s outside of a garden centre!
    A few years ago, I had shelves of seedlings in front of every window- there’s something so joyous about watching seedlings sprout and grow, another season beginning.
    Good luck with the weather 🙂

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    • Thanks Lynn! Those are the most loved little coleus plants in the world, they get checked, turned and sung to everyday by a very attentive little girl! I am thinking we may have to put on super hero capes and go “nighttime querilla planting” in all of our neighbours yards if they are all to find a home when the thaw comes though 🙂

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      • Maybe you need to start a business, a sideline specialising in coleus plants- you and your little girl have clearly got the knack for growing them, they’re beautiful. It’s either that, or the whole area round your house will be lovely shades of red and green… 🙂

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      • I can definitely see a little road side stand in our future this year. Last year she dug up forget-me-nots and sold them with her sister at the end of the driveway. It was so cute! The kicker was when the money they raised ($21!) was donated to the Alzheimer’s society…a friend of ours had lost her Mom the year before and it obviously impacted them as well…I had no idea that was their plan and yup, I cried! I wonder Coleus could represent to them?

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      • That’s amazing. My first published short stories (some of the few) were in an anthology in aid of Alzhiemer’s- a terrible disease and a great cause.
        Coleus sounds rather unfortunately like colon- or is that just me? 🙂

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      • Well, ‘real writer’ as in I’ve had five stories published and not earned anything from it, yet! But I’m trying 🙂
        Quite right- support those colons

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    • Thanks so much! What I didn’t post was a picture of the compost bin and the rainbow coloured seedlings that got hit the worst…poor little guys! I am still hoping the peppers may recover once transplanted. I am sure yours will come along!

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  4. Your coleus looks amazing! I have no patience for starting seeds indoors. Thankfully, we are warm enough to just scatter seeds to the wind and see what happens.

    You should be getting your video any day. Let me know if it doesn’t make it! Cheers, my Green Neighbor to the North.

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  5. This makes me want to buy more seed trays for next year! I would let the burned plants go and see how they do. I burned a few by not raising the lamps soon enough (it’s my first year with lamps.) About half made it.
    And I will reiterate what so many have said – you have a serious talent for growing from seed. Bravo!

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    • Thanks! I am not really sure what I do, they just seem to do well…until I try to help them with the fertilizer! I am definitely leaving the peppers to see how they do since it is really almost too late to start those again, fingers crossed! And you can never have too many trays 😊. I even started bringing some to work to grow on in our glass entrance….

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  6. Good morning! I’m fearing I have gone overboard with the seedlings too, and that I started them way too early. They are getting soooooooo big. What are your suggestions? I’ve repotted most into yogurt containers and planters. When do you think our frost date is going to be this year? I read may 5th but with this crazy winter… Any advice would be greatly appreciated 🙂

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    • I never count on those frost dates, we live on a windy unprotected hill so I go by the first weekend in June for tender seedlings started indoors. I usually do a bunch of tomatoes in planters on the deck so I can haul them in on cold nights. If I am going to put them in the garden beforehand, I will put them under plastic hoop tunnels or have frost blankets ready to tuck them in at night by draping them over the tomato cages and holding them down with a rock. Hoop tunnels are easy and fairly cheap there are some directions on this post! https://novascotiaroots.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/my-top-ten-steps-for-starting-a-new-veggie-bed-maybe-it-will-help-a-few-dreamers/ Hope that helps! As soon as I can see the dirt in my veggie bed, I will be setting up my hoops, I will put up some pictures when I do!

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      • Thank you for your reply! I just saw your hoop tunnel post today, after digging out some black PVC pipe myself 🙂 thank you for the step by step, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do next. Do you think black plastic would be a bad idea? Could it get too hot in there?

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      • Hi Amy! I hope your hoop tunnels work out well for you!! Do you mean black plastic as the hoop cover or just over the soil under the clear plastic cover? I would make sure any cover I use over the hoops allows as much light transmission as possible. On the soil surface itself, I am a big fan of black biofilm as it heats up the soil and solarizes weeds! I use it a lot in my main beds, I haven’t had too many weeds in the raised beds yet so I haven’t used it in them. Some of my older posts have pictures of tunnels with clear plastic on top and the black film over the soil. Good luck!

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