How to Water a Thirsty Piano

Jordan is in charge of compost and probably will have a large role in plant watering once we get our plants established. I have been doing most of the seedling nurturing, as is expected of my gender, while Jordan lazes around. Just kidding. He serenades me and our plants with his perennial piano playing as he prepares for his recital, which happens to be today. Have I seen a movie where classical music is playing in a greenhouse? Maybe that’s why we are having so much success with our seedlings.

In addition to practicing the piano, Jordan has also been practicing his watering skills on the piano. No, he is not watering the piano with a watering can, but he is, sort of. Let me explain. Our piano is located on an outside wall in an old house so the temperature and humidity is always fluctuating around and inside the piano. This causes the piano to work its way out of tune more often than it should. So, unbeknownst to me, Jordan got a humidifier/dehumidifier for the piano. Did you know such a thing existed? Me either.

Somewhere inside our old Steinway is a water reservoir that replaces moisture inside the piano when things get too dry and a dehumidifier that will magically activate itself when things get too moist. I guess it’s kind of like a self-watering planter in a way. Side note: I think self-watering planters are the coolest things ever. Likewise, Jordan thinks his piano watering system is quite dandy and will tell you all about it if you want to listen.

I think Jordan has watered his piano 4 times in the past couple months. Hopefully he will be as responsive to our plants’ needs as he is to the blinking light that indicates that the piano is thirsty.

Look at Jordan practicing his watering skills. So patient! So happy!

Here he is cleaning up the water that spilled out of the watering tube. Lesson learned: don’t overwater your piano or your plants.

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Vegetable Growing Tracking Chart

Having planted our first set of seeds two weeks ago, we have seen lots of growth from all three plants we started. I’m feeling a bit like Mother Earth right now when I see the little shoots folded over and busting out of the soil. We were just minding our own business last weekend and all of a sudden the seeds just popped up and started to exist, just like that! One of the tomato seedlings in each of the two cups at the bottom of the picture have already started to grow “true leaves.” Proud mama!

I think there are only two seeds that haven’t emerged out of the 15 we planted so our success rate so far is 86%. That’s a B in seed starting. Not too shabby for beginners. Holla.

I’ve also started tracking the process in an excel spreadsheet because I need all the information from the seed packets in one place. I can’t just expect to remember what I’m supposed to be doing for each individual plant on my own at this point. So I’ve divided the process into phases that seem to make sense.

Phase one is Planting and Germination. The planting columns include information about soil depth and planting date and a place to record when we actually planted the seeds. The germination section includes when to expect green shoots busting out of the soil, how many days it actually took to happen, and the actual date for future reference. So far, making this tracking chart has been one of the more fun tasks for me. That’s kind of sad. Moving on!

The next logical phase is Thinning and Transplanting. I’ve read conflicting accounts about thinning and transplanting and I have to say I’m a bit confused about this part of the process. I don’t think any of the seedlings are ready to be thinned or transplanted so I’m just not going to worry about it for now.

I think phase 3 will be Care which will include watering, fertilizing, and mulching rules. It might also need to include ways to kill bugs or a record of what went wrong if all of our plants die because they are attacked by evil bugs or diseases. Each plant deserves individualized attention in order for it to succeed in producing its fruit.

The next phase will be Harvest and the phase after that will probably be Preparing for Winter.

I bet there is a template somewhere out in gardening blog world and I need not have spent my entire morning building this spreadsheet. But what’s done is done! Does anyone out there have a notebook or spreadsheet filled with notes in order to track growth and organize information?

Seed Starting in Zone 7b

Jordan and I finally did another gardening activity together: we started some seeds! It was time to start growing the first of our babies–bell peppers, tomatoes, and jalapenos. (I almost forgot about the jalapenos because they weren’t included in my Sprout Robot schedule! What kind of Robot are you??)

First, we read the back of the seed packets just to be sure there wasn’t anything special, like seed scarification or soaking, that needed to happen. Jordan also read the starting soil bag and later told me to “water gently.” (Success! He’s learning on his own!)

Next, Jordan filled our sterilized Trader Joe’s yogurt cups with the starting soil and I placed three seeds into each container. We decided to start an Orange Bell Pepper plant this week and start a Red & Yellow Bell Pepper in the next two to four weeks so our potential yield will be staggered. We like bell peppers, but not so much that we want three varieties producing at the same time.

We also planted two cups of jalapeno and tomato seeds. Since we’ll only transplant the healthiest of the seedlings, we thought we might want to try two jalapeno plants and two tomatoes, just in case. I’m actually starting to wonder if we should start another tomato; growing up with an Italian home chef for a mama taught me one can never have enough tomatoes.

After we pushed the seeds into the appropriate depth in the starting soil, we “watered gently” and placed the cups in a plastic container and placed the container in the sunniest spot in our house. Supposedly we should have a fancy grow light for our seeds but we don’t. I’m sure people started seeds indoors before grow lights were invented. We’re just kickin’ it old school.

Are we naive to think we can start seeds indoors without a ton of constant light? Will our 20 minutes of seed planting be in vain? Oh, the fears of seed starting!

Global Warming/Climate Change Equals More Bugs

Listening to public radio is so interesting. I’m always learning something new. We used to listen to NPR on the way to school every morning growing up so now I think of it as news masquerading as story time. I don’t know how many times a day I start a story with, “I was listening to the radio and I heard…”

Well, let me tell you a story about a story I heard. If you’ve been following along, you know I hate bugs. According to the “Plant Doctor” Melinda Myers, who was on Charlotte Talks recently, our unnaturally warm winter is going to result in more bugs bothering us than normal. Stupid global warming/climate change!

I didn’t hear the whole conversation so I don’t know exactly why there would be more bugs than usual, but I’m assuming they just have more time to wake up and multiply. Having never gardened before, I don’t know what’s normal for populations of bugs, but when she advised us to “grab the bugs early before they multiply into the hundreds,” I have to admit I got more than just a little freaked out. By the way, she really meant “grab” the bugs. Like, with your hands.

An example of my psychological problem with bugs: just a minute ago, I moved my foot and some fuzz from my slippers ended up on my lap. I almost jumped out of my skin thinking it was a bug! A fuzzy red bug, spawned from my shedding slippers. I need an intervention.

With “hundreds” of bugs to deal with this summer (Sacre Bleu! Invaders!) a question remains: will I be able to conquer my fear and save my darling plants?

Who will save me?