Cool Nights and Seedlings

June 6, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Brad Moldofsky

We returned from a two-day family trip (two days!) to find the indoor peppers, tomato and eggplant seedlings withered and looking like puppies left in a hot car at a mall parking lot. Although it was only 70 degrees in the bay window. Honestly, 36 hours without water and they wilt. Pathetic.
The peppers sprang back quickly with a good drenching, but the tomato turned black and the eggplant just lay there, all limp and wilty. I wish I’d have photographed the thriving leaves before I left. So round and delicate, so green and bold, holding the promise of ripe fruit in the fall. I dumped them in the compost and replaced them with healthy transplants picked up at The Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. Their nursery takes good care of the seedlings and offers a nice variety of plantable plants, local produce and ready-to-eat (and packaged) goods. While the boys ate ice cream and rode a rocking horse, I picked out three pepper varieties, two types of tomatoes and some eggplant.

I moved the tray of new plants outside during the day and back on the porch in the cool evenings. Still, the new eggplants managed to wilt after 10 hours without water. Honestly, eggplant is the wuss of the plant world. While we might put the tomatoes and peppers in the ground soon, it’s still too chilly for them to thrive in outdoor weather now.

The plants in the ground outdoors have grown superbly. The leafy collards are starting to brush up against the plastic poultry netting surrounding the square foot garden. The potato stems and leaves are several feet foot tall in some cases. I gave away several pots of potatoes to a neighbor and transplanted the rest to a spot on the front lawn near our herb spiral.
We’ve put the bean and cucumber seeds in the ground and seedlings are already sprouting. Except for the spots reserved for the tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, there is no arable land left on our property, and any stragglers will have to grow old in a pot. Except I just gave away my extra collards and broccoli. We’ve already found a taker for the rest of our potato pots.

Input costs: Many hundreds of dollars
Benefit: Probably $20 worth of lettuce and now lots and lots of spinach growing by the fence in the backyard.