As with all things in life sometimes you are doing well, other times you struggle, and the garden is no exception to the rule. Over the last few months I have found gardening a struggle and felt myself feeling disheartened and frustrated. If I hadn't been gardening for some years now I might have interpreted this slump as time to quit. But over the years I have had many ups and downs in the garden and I have come to understand that every down is actually a hidden opportunity to learn and grow.
Raising seedlings has been one of my toughest learning paths to tread. And is it any wonder? Seedlings after all are baby plants and like all babies require a great deal of nurture. I guess plants don’t produce hundreds to thousands of seeds at a time for no good reason. But after my great seedling experiment I thought I had it licked. So it was with great disappointment and frustration when all my seedlings died following, what I thought to be, the exact same method.
One of the greatest tools I have in my gardening tool kit... is never hesitating to ask for help. I know this is often easier said than done. When feeling like a failure asking for help takes a great deal of personal strength. But time and time again I have found that the moment I reach out for help the feeling of failure just washes away leaving behind the calm of relief. In this particular case I sort help from Linda Woodrow. She suspected it was something moisture related. One of the her thoughts was the seedlings not getting good enough root to wet soil contact at transplant, due to me not packing the soil around the roots adequately enough. I had questioned this myself at the time of doing it - I was trying to simplify the method thinking watering would do it on my behalf. Sometimes shortcuts don't pay off.
After Linda had given me some clues it got me analysing what other things may have gone wrong. I had been using a small pump action hand sprayer (right) that probably was only giving the plants a light water. I have now swapped that for large pressurised sprayer (left). Much better! With any spray bottle I highly recommend labeling its intended contents.
The final possible issue I believe was caused by a combination of hot house and pot size. My mini greenhouse really works a treat but the raised temperature does seem to cause a lot more moisture loss. Combine that with the little pots I am using and I think they were simply drying out. Why would I be so silly to use such small pots then, you ask, especial as my great seedling experiment revealed that larger pots do indeed work better. The reason is simply limited space. In order to meet my goal I have calculated I need to have around 200 seedling on the go at all times. Currently the only space I have is a single seedling table.
I have now removed the plastic cover off the seedling table and my new batch of seedlings, still in little pots, are doing great. As you can see I have learnt from this failure. The last few days especially, have been very rewarding in the garden indeed.