This year we created a backyard garden for the Pops with the vegetables and fruits he enjoys. He has grown a few things in the past few years in kind of a haphazard way, so we wanted to help him plan an even more successful garden. In addition to his dozen Earth Gro boxes (which we restocked with new soil), we cleaned out a few old raised beds for strawberries and herbs, as well as a small plot for a salad garden with lettuces, scallions and radishes. We also heavily amended a side bed for squashes and melons.
The Pops is a notoriously picky eater, so Greer interviewed him extensively about what he and his local family will eat, and got his participation in choosing varieties. This year we paid for one of our seed catalogs because we read somewhere that it is worth the five bucks… and it was! The D. Landreth Seed Company has been providing heirloom seeds since the 1700’s, and its catalog is full of historical information and hard-to-find seeds. The Pops was mesmerized by the vegetable descriptions and ordered not one, but two kinds of peas for his little plot. One was the Dwarf Grey Sugar, which seems like such a happy name for little peas.
To help him get a head start, we started some plants at home on our seed-starting shelves. They sprang right up and were growing very quickly, just like peas do. Then the plants suddenly became stunted, and at only four inches high, they even produced teeny peas in tiny pods as if they were mature plants.
We sadly had some trouble with most of our seedling starts this year. We have three possible suspects:
- Baby chicks. I never thought I would blame baby chicks for anything but too much cuteness, but those little critters put out A LOT of dust. Our first batch of baby chicks this year were brooded in the Office. When we finally moved them outside after five weeks, it took both of us an hour to clean all the dust. Since the seedlings were right above the chicks, they were covered with dust as well. This may have kept them from adequately making their own food through photosynthesis.
- Not enough light. This is also related to our baby chicks. We reconfigured our seed-starting shelves to make room for the chick brooder this spring. We have lights above our seedlings to help them along, but the shelves ended up farther apart, and the lights were possibly too far away from the plants during their beginning growing stages.
- Seed starting mix. In previous years, we started our seedlings with a garden soil, but we thought we’d be more “professional” this year and use an organic seed starting mix. We’d read that these mixes are sterile (to prevent disease) and that we should add worm castings to provide necessary nutrients, so we did. This may have had an effect though, since our germination rate was lower than usual, even for our few hybrid seeds.
One great thing about peas is that they can be directly sown into the ground as well. So, on one of Greer’s visits to The Pops, he took the remaining seeds with him. When he got there, he discovered that the Pops doesn’t eat peas anymore. This is not because he suddenly decided he doesn’t like them. He went on a Zone cruise that taught him all about which foods to eat for the Zone Diet. Peas have a higher sugar content than most vegetables, so they are discouraged. So we decided to hold off on the peas for this year after all!