Sunday, April 15, 2012

Learning to Garden by Gardening- Thinning Seedlings

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? Sure if we all had eight pretty maids in a row, growing a beautiful garden would be a snap. I'd be the girl in the hammock with a pina colada. But alas, I don't even have one pretty maid... in fact, I'm my own pretty maid, as I bet you are too.

The hubs and I are really trying to get healthy. We've done that thing Americans do... you know gain a secretive, sneaky 10 pounds a year... and well it's been 5-6 years... and it 'aint pretty people. But, I know this is how most Americans gain weight, so we are normal. Yay! ("sarcasm sign" for all you Sheldon's out there.)

Are you sick of being normal? Aka, a fatty Mc fatty American face! Yeah, us too. The good thing is, Justin and I LOVE fruits and veggies. One of the big problems with weight loss I've discovered (through internet research, not from talking to an actual nutritionist... but it makes since, so I'm going with it) is eating processed foods. If you read the label and it has more than a few ingredients, it's not good for you. Logical right? Things like Lecithin, PGPR, Emulisifier, TBHQ, and Vanillin don't make since to our brains (I would also like to add, my spell check does not even recognize them as proper words) so why would we think our bodies would recognize them? Reality check, our bodies don't... they are like "PGPR? What's that? Penguin Garbage Panel Representative? Purple Geeky Prehensile Reptiles? ... Nope don't know, I will just store this with the fat." We are overloading our bodies with weird crap it can't process, and so, it doesn't process it. It stores it. Hello, fatty Mc fatty storage facility.

The sick part is. You can't even trust processed "healthy food". If it's been processed, it has preservatives, and preservatives tend to preserve themselves inside us.... FOREVER!

Ok, let me add right here, that I'm not a professional. I have only just begun my weight loss journey, and you really have no reason to listen to my babble. (Give me a year or so, and you probably will though.)

BUT! There was a point to this rant, which I do apologize that it turned into a rant. How can you make sure you aren't getting the icky stuff that's in processed food? Maybe grow some of your food yourself. That's our plan. Carrot from the garden- ingredient, carrot. Check. Plus, if we dehydrate our veggies we will have ready made healthy soup mix for fall and winter, not canned. AND if we dehydrate our fruits and berries, we will have snacks... mmmm...

SOOOOOOO, all that, now to the point. Thinning seeds. My dad, an amazing gardener who doesn't mess around, suggested that we start our own seedlings instead of buying juvenile plants. His reasoning, it's WAY cheaper and he says his seedlings always grow better and faster than when he gets juveniles. Well, I planted my seeds* (the star is for a sidetrack I'll lead you down later.)

Here's my Zinnia babies. (Yeah, Zinnia's are a flower not a food. I'm not a hypocrite, they just germinated first.) See how they are kind bunched all up together? That's bad. On the back of my seed packets, I kept seeing "thin to 9-12 inches" or "thin to 1-2 inches". I looked it up, via the internet, thank you vast receptacle of information, and thinning, is pretty much just like it sounds. You don't want your seedlings over crowded, because their roots will get all tangle up, and they will choke each other out of food and water. They kinda just kill each other fighting over resources.
 So, you my friend get to play mother nature and do a little natural selection... that's right pick off the weak ones and let the strong ones survive.
I noticed after plucking a few baby Zinnia sprouts out, that their little roots were very straight. After plucking the weak guys out, I just kinda scootched the strong seedlings away from each other. I left a finger space (as suggested by one internet gardening de-boggler) between my healthy guys.
This is my Zinnia nursery after thinning. When they get bigger, I will probably have to thin them again. I didn't want to take them down to one per seed pot because I don't trust myself that much and it seems a little wasteful.

**** Here's that sidetrack I told you was coming. speaking of wasteful. I did something dumb... that I'm sure lots of other first time gardeners do, so I'm comforted that there is strength in numbers. YOU DON'T NEED TO PUT A TON OF SEEDS PER POT. I just kinda filled them all up hoping, please, please something grow. Some of those seeds were so tiny (like almost microscopic) and I didn't trust them to grow. I planted too many, and then I had to thin, thin, thin. (Which kinda means waste, waste, waste.)

Prime example- my lettuce seeds. (Which, sadly, I'm probably gonna have to try again...) Those little buggers are all over each other. They just sprouted, but they are in little bunches. I tried my first thinning, and I thinned more than I left. This is bad.

  Look at all those tiny lettuces that will never be. I still have more to thin too. I'm thinking next year I need to be way more frugal with my seeds to prevent having to over thin. I'm thinking they should be laid out like so.
If you are an actual good gardener, unlike me, who knows stuff, I'd appreciate your thoughts.

PS. Here are our new raised beds... which we just put in this weekend... no dirt yet because it's been raining and pouring.
As per the internet directions said (are you seeing a them here... I do a lot of stuff the internet tells me to) We lined the bottoms with chicken wire, newspaper, and pea gravel.

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