Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gardening mistakes



Two days ago these were happy little tomato seedlings, growing up nestled in warm soil, surrounded by tomato siblings and protected by heat mats and plastic covers to keep them warm, all snuggled up in the greenhouse. Now they are nothing but limp little bits of former vegetation.

Remember the snow surprise we had overnight Monday/Tuesday? Apparently I picked that night, of all nights, to forget to turn on the heat mats. Argh! I wouldn't have thought that would spell the demise of my seedlings, but my max/min thermometer tells me it got down to -5 (Celsius) in the greenhouse that night (all of which I discovered after that cup of tea I promised myself).

I feel like an idiot, because I lost two flats of tomato seedlings last year - not by freezing them to death, but by cooking them. I went to work one morning, enjoyed an unseasonably warm day, and came home that night to a thermometer reading well into the 40s and my tomato seedlings gasping their last breath. You'd think I'd have learned something.

Well, I did, actually. I learned to crack open the door of the greenhouse when it got too warm, and to turn off the heat mats every morning and turn them on every evening. I just forgot. Once. Nature can be so unforgiving.

So today I did the sensible thing and went to Rona to get an electronic timer, which then got installed in the greenhouse with a really long power bar for all the heat mats. After a head scratching half-hour of reading the instruction manual I managed to program the timer to turn the mats off every day at 8 a.m. and turn them back on at 6 p.m. I just came back from a post-supper check, and am happy to announce it all seems to work. Lesson learned.

All is not lost: about 20% of the tomato seedlings survived, and with the exception of my 6 fennel seedlings which were also limp bits when I found them, everything else seems to be fine. And I still have lots of time to catch up - according to my admittedly sketchy records, we're about a month ahead of where we were last year. So I have reseeded what needed reseeding and have resolved to make checking the weather forecast on the Internet part of my morning/evening computer routine.

I hate screwing up. My life would be so much easier if I was perfect.

4 comments:

Paula said...

Hey Miriam- you might be happier with a heat mat thermostat (say that five times really fast) than with a timer. That way you can keep things warm even on chilly gray days- you know- the ones we never have up here in the PNW. The cheapest I found of the one that I wanted was a good ole Amazon...

..and life would be easier if we were all perfect. Tonight I burnt the sauerkraut...

~Kim~ said...

You're a month ahead of the game, so I think that trumps forgetting to turn on the heat mats! :-)

Toni aka irishlas said...

It's all trial and error - well at least for me. No one taught me to garden or start seedlings so mistakes have been all over the place. I wish I could say I've learned from all my gardening mistakes, but, I usually forget the next year!
Like Kim stated, you're ahead of the game. Still time to do some more planting...

jeanives said...

Hah! I hvn't even started seedlings yet. But Costco's garden centre opens soon!

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