In a hurry? Don’t overlook this important virtue if you want to get your garden growing!
They say patience is a virtue. Gardening is considered to be a healthy pastime. Patience can help alleviate stress – so can gardening. So why do gardeners seem to forget patience when trying to get their gardens growing? If you are like we are, you are checking your seedlings daily, you check flowers and emerging fruit (and probably handle or touch them to make sure they are okay) and these are not patient acts. In gardening as in business, the fruits of your labors (profit in business and, well, fruits in gardening) are outcomes of the activities you perform. So, why can’t we just let things happen? That is the dilemma we want to cover today.
A watched pot never boils they say – and watched seeds never seem to emerge (unless, of course, you are into Chitting – not sure what that is? Check out this GardenHack). A lack of patience can lead to many undesirable things – over watering, under watering, disturbing the soil, too much light, not enough light, etc. Plants are intended to grow – that is how they are made. Some do not – but that is simply the luck of the draw (or the age and quality of the seeds you use). Learn the best ways to help your plants grow and then leave them alone – except for the proper care of course.
Some tips to get your garden growing
- Sunlight – make sure your seeds and seedlings get enough light but also let them sleep. You need rest and so do your plants. For indoor starting, setting the right type of lights at the proper height above your pots will give you the best chance to get the most out of your seeds. If your growing spot is too chilly, you may consider a heating pad to warm up the soil – a desirable outside impact of sunlight that you do not always gets with artificial lighting
- Moisture – watering your plants is important. Keeping the moisture in proper balance is even more important. For starting plants, we identified an easy and reusable way to provide access to moisture and allowing the root systems to dry out a bit (no wet feet) – you can check it out here. Additionally, you may want to “tent” your seeds/seedlings – creating a greenhouse effect. We will be sharing a hack on this later this year
- Soil – for seeds and seedlings, this is perhaps the most important piece and is often overlooked. Just like in gardening, some folks think (we did last year!!!) that any soil will do. While this can work, starting your seeds in starter soil will help you develop patience – as it is properly calibrated to help your seedlings thrive. Consider chitting as well – this jump starts the seeds prior to planting in soil
- Oxygen – plants breath just like we do and they do it above ground and in the soil. One of the reasons our gardens have an Air Gap is because we want to make sure that oxygen and oxygenated water are always available. We can bundle wind into this a bit as a breeze (as opposed to high winds) will help reduce the damp on leaves while toughening up your plants for outdoor living. Want to learn more about how an Eco Garden builds the best environment? Check out our EcoSystem
When we first launched our company, this was one of the first things we shared – you can check out this “throwback video” here.
So, how does greed play into this? How does it perhaps overthrow patience? Let’s unpack the negative impact greed can have on your seeds and seedlings.
First, you do not have to plant every seed you get!! Last year, we got some free seeds (like cabbage) that was nice to get but we did not really desire. We planted it anyway and spent a lot of time salvaging the seedlings, replanting after our early Spring wind challenges and allowed it to take up too much precious space in Mother’s Garden. We did get two heads (smaller) but we let our greed overwhelm our plan – and it did not help get our garden growing.
Second, avoid the greed trap of keeping multiple seedlings. We planted three or four seeds in each starter pot and, instead of trimming out all but one, we kept them and transplanted them – without even separating the seedlings. We got thriving plants – but were soon overwhelmed with intertwined stems, leaves, flowers and fruit. As the plants got larger, it was more difficult to keep them healthy as they wrestled for space, light and breeze (to reduce moisture and rot). We were not great parents as we allowed this to occur. If we had trimmed early, we would have had better total performance
Third, we had so many seedlings that we over-planted (even more than an Eco Garden can support – you can actually over-plant by about 40% compared to the square foot method) beyond common sense thinking we could trim back later. We never did – and a few of our plants (mainly beans) got taken over by our thriving tomatoes
Fourth (and final), we did not properly plan for succession planting thinking we could always find more seeds (we did the year before). If we had done a comprehensive plan for the full growing cycle, we would have seen more late season success. Not that we did not do okay, but we missed out on late greens like Arugula and Spinach due to our tomato greed and over-confidence in acquiring more seeds
So, are you as patient as you need to be? Are you as greedy for those wonderful vegetables that you make half-baked decisions? Either and both can get you into a gardening challenge. As you begin to prepare to get your garden growing in 2020 (in Minnesota, we still have a few months before we can plant outdoors), remember to practice patience and avoid the desire to maximize at any cost. Here are two videos that highlight our 2019 starting experience – Things to Keep and Things to Change.
We are so looking forward to the 2020 season – and we promise to be patient!