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Anthropology in Practice

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Green Thumbery: Death and Destruction

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Quick Garden Stats:
Zone 7 – New York
Anticipated last frost date (per local nursery): 5/20
Plants in ground: None

It’s been a rough start to the planting season.

The seedlings are dead. All of them. It happened essentially within 24 hours: I left for work and came home to find most of them bent over and the rest with severely wilted leaves. I had been dealing with some damping off issues with the flowers, the tomatoes, and the eggplants but the pepper plants had been hardy. Now they’re all gone—peppers, tomatoes, eggplants; everything.

I did have some seeds left over and there’s just enough time to make another go at it if I’m aggressive. I’m in Zone 7 for planting, which means that I have until mid-late May/early June to set transplants out. So I do have time but that means I need my seeds to really succeed. To help speed germination, S has taught me the paper towel trick. (It turns out that S has inherited some of his mom’s green thumb! Also his science fair projects through middle school involved either electricity or plants—and sometimes a combination of the two!) He also gently reminded me that true green thumb experience comes with time.

Starting seeings using the paper towel method.

From top to bottom: Dragon beans, sugar snap peas, and Chinese long beans.

So I labelled a ziploc bag, wet a paper towel and sandwiched some bean and pea seeds between the fold, and stuffed the whole thing into the baggie as a test. It worked really well and within a week roots had emerged on that first batch of seeds! I planted the beans and peas that germinated into large plastic cups in a seed starting mix that I purchased from Home Depot. And I’ve gotten some sturdy seedlings that I’m hoping to transplant by next weekend. I’ve seen some white patches of fuzz but this time all I’m doing is removing the fuzz by hand—I don’t want to gamble with the hydrogen peroxide solution I read about since I have a limited number of seeds left.

Cheered by these small successes—yes, I know beans and peas are low hanging fruit on the germination tree, but still: success—I started the rest of my seeds on Easter Sunday. And a quick check today showed that the basil and some of the flowers are ready for soil! I’m excited this has worked, and I’m hopeful that these guys will make it to the garden. Seedlings for my garden plan were really going to add up and it would have limited my ability to also plant bee-friendly flowers.

S also provided some pointers on light. I had read that my seedlings might need somewhere in the range of 16 hours of light a day, so I was using artificial light as well but S rightfully pointed out that seedlings need rest. And actually do some growing at night. So I think I’ll try to stem my sense of urgency with this group.

So hopefully things are on the right track with the plants. That means I need to turn my attention to another garden problem: we have a a rabbit that has taken up residence in our backyard. Because our backyard faces a park, we have all sorta of wildlife who visit, including raccoons, possums, and even cardinals. We have a fair amount of plants and shrubs that create a sizeable habitat for creatures that prefer the safety of the underbrush. The harsh winter we just had made the area where we covered out gazebo with a tarp a genuine oasis and our rabbit moved in to weather the cold.

Rhosgobel (yes, I named the rabbit), or Rosco for short, claimed the backyard for his own when the weather began to warm up by digging small holes all over. And then Rosco dug up and ate all of my tulips. All of them. Naturally this has caused me to worry about the garden itself. I’ve found evidence that he’s been digging there as well.

I spent last weekend prepping the beds and part of the work involved section info them off for square foot planting. Since I placed my markers, Rosco seems to have stayed away but I’m sure tender young shoots would be too great of a temptation to pass on.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to deal with Rosco? And does anyone have any suggestions on dealing with damping off? Does cinnamon really work?

Next week: Beans and peas go in the ground (hopefully) and we check on the strawberries!

 

You may also like:

Green Thumbery: A Gardening Series and Winter Sowing

Green Thumbery: The Seedlings are Coming!

Burger with a Side of Toys: How is Fast Food Being Marketed to Children?

What’s Stopping Us From Eating Insects?

You are What You Eat: The Truth in Food Records

Krystal D'Costa About the Author: Krystal D'Costa is an anthropologist working in digital media in New York City. You can follow AiP on Facebook. Follow on Twitter @krystaldcosta.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. tuned 6:52 pm 04/27/2014

    Roll on, Thumbelina!
    Good luck.
    Impresses on one how it is if life depends on your own plantings too.

    Link to this
  2. 2. Krystal D'Costa in reply to Krystal D'Costa 12:07 am 04/29/2014

    Absolutely! I can’t imagine having to have to feed my family on my gardening skills. Here’s hoping that I can get these tomato plants up and running!

    Link to this
  3. 3. tlmorrison 10:00 pm 05/4/2014

    The only answer I ever found to rabbits was to build a fence.

    Link to this

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