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My first Calgary garden – Part 3

A tiny garden



My seedlings have miraculously survived and thrived despite my tender loving care so far. They are getting their first and second sets of leaves and their roots were spreading way past the peat pods and intertwining in the vermiculite below. I figured it was time to start thinning them and repotting into bigger pots. I had a dozen or so peat pots and several plastic pots for plants that I was giving away to friends and family. Provided they all lived of course. I don’t have extreme faith in my gardening skillz given my past history.

For this project I mixed very roughly 1/3 seed starting mix, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 potting mix. Why? No reason other than I had all three items on hand. I mixed them all in a huge mixing bowl by hand, moistening loosely as I went. Note to self: mix all dry matter first THEN add water.


Then it was just a matter of filling up the pots about half full, inserting the peat podded seedling inside, handling very gently so as not to damage the fragile stems, fill up with more mix and water very gently. I screwed up at least two plants – one by tearing off a very long root when I was lifting it from home base, and a couple by repotting them too early – they still had only the cotyledons up, not any true leaves. However, their roots were escaping the pods and entangling with other roots so I figured they’re better off getting their own pots, but both books are silent on this subject so I can’t begin to guess. If they make it it’ll be a miracle.


To help them deal with any shock to the system I left the blind slats open but down to give them a more filtered light than the full beams, but it turned out it doesn’t matter as it’s cloudy and snowing today anyhow. Calgary rocks.

While I was replanting the seedlings, I thinned all the pods (all tomatoes) where all three seeds germinated. Steve Solomon suggests that when a plant has a set of true leaves thin the seedlings down to two, and when they get two sets of leaves leave only one plant. You want to choose the healthiest survivor – the one that’s the most vigorous and bushy. I just used scissors to chop off the stalk at the base and let me tell ya, it felt like murder. I had no idea how protective I felt of each little plant and to thin felt so cruel. They made it! They grew! To snip the tiny little stem was incredibly hard, and the only thing that allowed me to do it was Steve Solomon’s admonition that in order to do right by each plant you cannot have them competing for resources in any way. That stresses the plant and affects it’s future health and productivity. Nature does the same thing he says, only more so. A wild plant will produce thousands of seeds to compensate for all the ones that won’t make it whether eaten by birds or scattered in a hostile environment. When humans signed on to growing plants we made them a deal: you grow what we need, i.e. bigger roots, tops and fruits, sweeter and more fragile produce, longer harvest, and we will ensure that you will grow stress and competition free. So in order to hold my end of the bargain I sighed and thinned.

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