Sunday, February 10, 2008

little green babies...

Maria tells me I am a bad brother. Last weekend, while calling my brother, I noticed that the first tomato seed-leaves were poking up out of the planter. Like any first-time gardener, I couldn't contain my amazement and started shrieking about how we were having a baby! This naturally amazed and befuddled my poor brother, which amazement and befuddlement quickly turned to irritation when he realized I was talking about tomatoes. Apparently nightshades don't exactly put one in an avuncular state of mind.

But I've already gotten ahead of myself.

I've read and been told that first-time gardeners tend toward overeagerness: they plant too early, thin too little, water too much. Even with this warning, and for all our almanac-checking and calendar-comparing, we probably started our tomatoes and peppers too early. Ah well. What can I say: we wanted to stop reading and start planting already!

In order to save money and pursue the reduce-and-reuse-before-recycling ethic, we had some fun making our own planters out of toilet paper tubes. (The VERY VERY EASY process is documented on To spur germination, we made the seeds a greenhouse out of a translucent plastic bin we had lying around, which we covered with a translucent piece of plastic we cut from a bag. We sprayed in a little moisture and set it on a radiator in a window, et voilĂ ! the first tomato sprouts popped out in three days' time! So that the shoots wouldn't rot in the moisture, we moved the sprouted planters one by one off the radiator, into mini-greenhouses we made out of plastic milk jugs.

After two weeks, 3/4 of the tomato seeds sprouted - nine in all. Of the nine fish pepper seeds we planted, four have sprouted so far. We're still waiting on another trio of fish peppers and one of bell peppers.

Care for a tour?

The sprouting greenhouse:

The post-sprouting greenhouses:

Tomato seedlings in their tubes, in a milk jug greenhouse:

A fish pepper seedling in its own mini-greenhouse/planter:


Mama Monster said...

Man you guys better get yourselves some floating row covers or some belljars or something because those little sprouts are going to be ready to go outside well before our late Maryland frost date...I've seen 2 liter soda bottles work well for that purpose. I'm lazy. I usually plant peas and broccoli right about now, but buy my tomatoes already sprouted after the frost date.

maria said...

you're like the 3rd or 4th person to tell us we jumped the's so hard to believe that they will be TOO BIG sooner than we think, because right now they are these little sprouts without any true leaves even. but you're right. we'll probably have to compensate for our overeagerness by constructing some other makeshift shelter for them outside. especially since i'm not about having poisonous nightshades hanging out in the open in my house where the cat can nibble on them.