Sunday, 6 September 2009

tomato scare

I came home after a particularly warm (20C!) winter day to find my tomato seedlings had done this!
I was so upset! I wasn't sure at first if they'd just dried out or the opposite had occurred, "damping off", when they're damp for too long and get killed by fungus. I instantly splashed them with water and within an hour found out they'd dried out, because two of the seedlings had already perked back up. It's the stupid little punnet, they're so small the dirt dries out really quickly. I'll never start seeds in punnets this small again. And I was so angry because I had planned to prick them out into larger punnet just two days after this happened; if I'd done it earlier this never would have happened.

Luckily by the end of the day two of them had actually perked back up so that you couldn't even tell they once looked like this. The third still looked pretty dead, but by Saturday when I went to prick them out, the dead seedling was starting to look alive again! I decided to reward this effort by very carefully pricking it out to see what happened. I have such admiration for this drive to survive even when you're sure something's got to be dead.
This is what the setup looks like now. They ran out of room in the smaller plastic bin so now they're in a cheap plastic cat litter tray (only ever used for gardening). Along the top row are the four tomato seedlings including, on the far left, the Tommy Toe that's still struggling for life. Next are the two Serrano chilies and then the lettuce leaf and cinnamon basils which are powering along. I've left the punnet of chili seeds just in case some of them have been waiting for the last two months before they felt like sprouting. Despite a few setbacks, I have high hopes that these guys will survive to the summer.


Mari said...

Such drama from such tiny bits of matter. I hope soon your tiny bits are big, luscious vegetables! No second meaning intended there.

Funkbunny said...

Oh dear! Poor seedlings! Have you tried growing them in toilet rolls? I find that they don't dry out as quickly, especially if you pack 8 or so together in an old icecream container. Also you can just put the whole thing in the ground when you plant the seedling - so no root disturbance.

Alexa said...

I think next year I'll go with those punnets that are one whole tray of dirt instead of separate cells. They'll also distribute the heat more evenly like that. Since I prick them out when they're still very small there's no need for them to be in separate cells.