Spotty Soil


We have had a few fantastic years of starting our own seeds in the house with great results. Each year we have included more seeds to our starter set and more of our garden started right at our house rather than purchased from a nursery. It has been a lot of fun watching them grow and offers so much pride when they do so well and we get some wonderful produce out of our garden all summer.

I found some small 12 packs of biodegradable pods that I thought would work really well for our onions, celery, broccoli and herbs. I also grabbed some soil when picking up the new seed starter containers. It was a brand I hadn’t used before, but was a seed starter potting mix, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong. I also had some black earth soil that we used in some pots last year that did really well, so I mixed in some of that.

This year we were excited once again to start as many of our seeds as possible, with the addition of some new options once again this year. I planned out some variations to plantings of items like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, so that we would get steady harvests. And then we waited, and watched, and waited. Some of the plants started off really well, while others did nothing.

I ended up re-planting a few seeds a few times to see if we could get at least a few plants of that variety growing, to no avail. I believe I also got a few packs of dud seeds, which is also disappointing. The plants that did start didn’t progress well. Some of the plants shrivelled up after a few weeks, regardless of what I tried to keep them alive. The ones that stayed alive seemed to do poorly and were not growing at the same rate as they had in past years.

I decided I had enough, and bought some new soil from a brand that I use every year. For the plants that shrivelled up, I replanted in the new soil. I did also try some of the seeds that hadn’t worked out, with some minor success, but still not consistent growth making me think that the soil may be the main culprit, but I definitely also have some bad seed packs. Some of the plants I had used all the previous seeds, and so had to purchase new seeds to plant. Those all turned out great, with good results in both the sprouting of the plants and the continued growth so far.

Since I narrowed it down to a mainly soil issue, I decided to do some transplanting to try to get some of the somewhat stunted plants into some healthier soil, and containers. I gave up on our onions from seed. We had a few start but they haven’t grown as much as they should and they are sparse. The celery popped up right away, but have been the same size for weeks now, not really developing. I was worried about the broccoli because although they look happy and healthy, they also weren’t really growing anymore. My green cabbage was doing great and then a few days ago they all started shrivelling up. The red cabbage is still doing great, but I didn’t want to lose them, so I decided to transplant them.

I spent a few hours this evening after work gently transplanting a lot of the plants that started in those biodegradable containers. I also re-started by green cabbage. The celery had almost no roots and were so small that I am curious to see how they do over the next few days now that I have disturbed them to get them into some better soil.

The broccoli, cauliflower and red cabbage had nice healthy root systems despite not progressing with growth. Hopefully the better soil will have them growing rapidly. I tucked them back into the greenhouse to give them a good push for growth.

My new herbs have come up quickly and abundantly in some new soil. I also changed the containers which I think has also helped. The only herb that had worked out was the rosemary, but it wasn’t really growing much, so I transplanted those into the new soil as well.

I tried the ground cherries again, and finally got a couple to sprout. There is definitely a seed issue, but at least with some better soil I was able to get a few plants started.

The third packet of cauliflower seeds finally did the trick. All of the seeds I planted popped right up and have been happily growing in the good soil. They are already close in size to the broccoli, which sprouted a full month prior to the cauliflower. The cauliflower is on the left in the below photo and broccoli on the right.

Our tomatoes have been topped up with the good soil. I also transplanted a few to get them into as much good soil as possible to help with their growth. Looking at pictures from last year, they are about half the size of the plants we had last year.

Our peppers are still quite small, but hopefully they will really take off this month. I don’t usually put them out until June to ensure consistently hot weather. I also topped them up with some good soil, so hopefully that helps. I may have to add a little nutrient packed water to them to see if I can stimulate them a bit.

Next year, I am sticking with the brand of soil that I know works for my seedlings. I am also going to stick with the containers that we have an abundance of. Why I switched this year is beyond me. Such a silly thing to do when we have had such good success in the past.

On that soil note, we are prepping some of our beds to get some carrots, radishes, beets, potatoes and onions into the ground. Hopefully by the weekend we will have an update on how that is all going.


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