Starting the Garden


Eric is probably getting sick of plants.

I took over our kitchen table and a red Ikea shelf next to it with starts. This is the first year I’ve invested in seeds, and proper seed-starting soil, and trays. I have my own yard that gets sun. I began with a spice mix and a lettuce mix. The seeds were so small. I planted too many seeds per cell out of clumsiness, impatience, and hubris.

I started small yellow pear tomato seeds and purple cherokee tomato seeds. I filled all the rest of the trays. I was calmer with the tomato seeds but still over-eager. We planned to have four types of tomatoes. We will only have those two.

Lettuce is a cooler-weather vegetable. We attempted to transplant the lettuce seedlings outside and have more space for other vegetables. Evicted. The lettuce was crowded and lacked vigor. We thought we would have so many lettuces, an overabundance of lettuce. But slugs love lettuce and lettuce is fragile. We have only a decent amount of lettuce surviving. I can’t stand to thin plants. Why kill a perfectly healthy little seeding? Every extra spice seedling and crowded tiny tomato, I carefully picked out with a pair of tweezers. If it came out with the roots intact, I planted the rejected seedling in a cell where the lettuce had been.

I had too many tomatoes. The spices were mostly basil. Both are hot weather plants, started in March. Oregon is suffering a drought. This spring is sunny and warm. I ride my bike and think I’m in California. You do not plant tomatoes in April. Nor May, really. Maybe the end of May. But this spring is different!

I put three yellow pear tomatoes in the ground on April 12 and three purple Cherokee tomatoes in the garden on April 19. I know when I planted them because I logged it using Growstuff. I asked friends for 4″ plastic pots to give the remaining unplanted tomato starts a place to spread out their roots. We put zucchini, okra, broccoli, and poblano pepper seeds in the empty starting cells. I gave a third of my tomato starts to a charity plant sale for a cat shelter. Acquired more small plastic pots and bought some Northwest native plants for the shady side of my yard. Gave some starts to friends. Mostly tomatoes, but some basil, parsley, and cilantro. I’ve kept some tomato stats in reserve, in case I planted the others too early and they fail to thrive. I bring these potted tomatoes out during the warm days and bring them in at night.

Discovered a neighborhood plant exchange, just a simple shelf with a sign, that had black prince and sweetheart tomato starts, iris tubers, and daylily bulbs.

I dropped off some dill.

And took two tomatoes. I don’t think Eric noticed when I snuck them into the house.

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