May 20-23, 2018

Weather: Wet, warm, Damp to swampy

Yay! It’s raining! It’s pouring! The veggies are drowning. Honestly this rain is preventing me from planting any seedlings. I have 16 pepper seedlings ready for transplanting, but the 3 inches of daily rain is making the ground too damp to plant. Root rot any one?

What to do, what to do?

Well obviously keep them in the house in the containers for a bit longer.

I planted them in wicker baskets lined with paper for ease of transfer. Unfortunately this tends to keep moisture in and might create root rot and bring in the gnats.

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I like starting seeds in broken wicker, canvas bags, or cardboard boxes as it is biodegradable. Sometimes you can just plant the whole thing into the garden and let it all decompose together.

I have heard of people using clothes to plant in, but mostly those are slip covers for plastic pots.

According to http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/creative-diy-ideas-for-old-clothes/ “ Like any organic material, old clothes made from natural sources can be composted and/or used for sheet mulching when building a new garden bed. And, while this means the official end of an article of clothing, it also marks and effective of way of cycling organic materials rather than using up more landfill space.”

While true, there are some issues.

1: Are the materials & dyes organic?

2: How long will they take to decompose in your area?

I suggest burning the old clothes and spreading the ash would work as well, but the rule of the green thumb is that you bury the old clothes under the compost in the fall before spring planting. This gives them two seasons to break down.

But since planting is on hold, what is a gardener to do?

Well, I have been sorting seeds.

No really.

Earlier this spring I traveled to another state to visit my mother and help her clean her garage. She is in her late 70s and moved into her current place 15 years ago. An avid gardener herself, she has kept seeds from all of her plantings. So we have 15 years of seeds from this place and 20 from her previous two gardens. Most of these were saved in small glass jars, plastic ziploc baggies and the orange prescription pill containers. Most are NOT labeled in a way that would make sense to anyone else.

When cleaning out her garage I had over 50 jars and bags filled with seeds. Some dated back to 1985. Most were labeled something akin to “red petaled flower growing on banister 1988.” There were some official seed packets that were bought and never opened.

Oddly enough only about 10 bags had rotted.

The rotted ones we put in her composter. The rest were sorted via season, type and region.

I was gifted 30 different seed packets.

I now have enough Cosmo seeds to fill an acre if they all are viable.

I planted some in small containers and nothing grew.

The pumpkin and sunflower seeds are growing and they were from the 1990s.

The thing I have been wondering about is the Chia Pet seeds.

Back in 1989 my mom worked as a greeting card rep in Kmart stores. At that point everything that was damaged was recorded and tossed in a dumpster. There was a Chia pet that had been damaged in transit. Chia Pets were all the rage then and people could pretend to garden with them. (Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia!)

This is the first commercial of the product. https://youtu.be/tzY7qQFij_M

Strange huh?

So my mom, who had no interest in the planter, asked if she could have the seed packet before they tossed the damaged goods to the dumpster. They gave it to her and told her that it wouldn’t grow without the special planter. My mom didn’t really believe this, but never got around to using it.

I now have the packet. But after almost 30 years are the seeds still viable?

I have no clue.

Most seeds lose viability after 1year and are completely useless after 3 years. I have had pepper seeds and squash seeds grow after 5 years. Perhaps the secret is in the plant family? Pepper are in the Solanaceae and pumpkin are in the Cucurbitaceae. I’m told that the Liliaceae family also stay viable longer. But where does Chia fit in? Salvia hispanica is the plant and, if done properly, this would grow like a moss or ground cover.

So my experiment has begun.

I took the seeds and followed the instructions. Soaking them in water for a little longer due to the age.

It looks like frog eggs. These seeds floated for hours.

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And then they sank. They really look like fish eggs.

Fish eggs. Fish eggs. Yummy yummy fish eggs.

So I plastered them on a ceramic pot, where they promptly slid off onto the shelf.

And between the heat and the rain, I have no clue if they will grow at all.

We will see what we will see.

Plant or bird food?

Still fun.

Anyway. That’s it for the last few days. I think I see sunlight.

Later.

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