Monday, August 02, 2021

Seeds Should Be Planted In The Ground

... if at all possible. Those little seed starter peat cups and plastic flower pots are poor second choices.

This year's Dixie crop was supposed to be watermelon so I could recreate the country song, The Watermelon Crawl by making homemade watermelon wine. I got two varieties of Georgian seeds, Nancys and Stone Mountains, from Southern Exposure and was all ready to get started. Unfortunately, our raised beds were full of tomatoes, herbs, cayenne and an artichoke plant that looked like a triffid.

We'll have to keep an eye on that one.

Lacking space, I started my first set in those little, peat, seed-starter pots. I call them my first set because I killed them all. I decided they weren't growing fast enough and probably needed more heat and humidity, so I put the greenhouse lid over the top, the lid that came with the seed-starter kit. Within 36 hours, they were fried to a crisp. Yay.

The original set in peat seed-starters. Many sprouted, none survived.

I had plenty more seeds, so my second round went into small, plastic pots. That worked well until it didn't. 

Watermelon seeds are fecund, little creatures and will sprout at the least suggestion of soil and water. I had no problem getting bunches of them going, but almost none of them have made it all the way to today. That's because they should have gone straight into the ground instead of intermediate, "starter" pots.

Getting to the root of the matter, the problem is the roots. Peat cups dry out quickly, particularly in San Diego's desert climate. The plastic pots get fried by San Diego's desert sun*. The plastic ones also trap water in ways that soil does not, only allowing hydro-respiration through the tops and bottoms of the pots. All in all, they're horrible simulations of the ground.

The survivors from the plastic pot set. On the left are two Stone Mountains, only one of which looks viable. One the right is a thriving Nancy and a dead Nancy.

It takes a genius to kill a watermelon plant. Fortunately, I'm just that sort of genius.

If I'd just planted the darn things in the ground to start with, I'd have a whole mess of cheerful, little watermelon vines crawling around all over the place. If these don't survive, I'm going to throw in the towel for this year and try again next year.

Next Task: Convince wife kitteh to move to Wiggins, Mississippi and buy a house on 10 acres of land so I can be a gentleman farmer.

* - San Diego is a desert. Dixie plants don't like the desert, they like humidity and rain. For the solution, see: Task, next.

1 comment:

tim eisele said...

One of the nice (?) features of viney plants like watermelon, is you can plant them at the edge of the cultivated part of your garden and then just let the vines grow out into the yard. While they end up taking up a lot of space, it doesn't have to be garden space.

Just don't forget and mow them off.

We actually have a watermelon plant growing successfully. It is right up tight against the house, where it is warmest, and we have been watering it intensely. There are even some watermelons, one of which is almost 6 inches across. Of course, we had to find a strain of watermelon that matures in 60 days to do this, the more normal 100-day watermelons wouldn't stand a chance.