Daily Archives: April 12, 2012

Learning from experience, with a little help from my friends

A tangle of tomato seedlings with long fragile stems

Little tomato plants searching everywhere for light - 2011

Last year, I tried growing tomatoes from seed. I had never tackled a project like that before, and it worked better than I had any right to expect – but I made some pretty basic mistakes.

Mostly, I didn’t realize how MUCH light seedlings need. I starved the poor things, really. They grew long and skinny reaching desperately toward what light they could find. The room seemed nice and bright to me, but I don’t live by photosynthesis. Luckily, I showed off some pictures to my friend Sue The Gardener, and she was horrified.

Ugly but functional

I’m trying again this year (with some of the same seeds – it turns out you can use seed from last year’s packets, if you seal up the packages and store them someplace dry). This time, though, my husband rigged up an adjustable plant light for me. It’s not at all pretty, but it seems to be doing the job.

If all goes well, in a few months I’ll be able to walk about fifteen feet from where I’m sitting at the moment, climb through a window, and pick a ripe tomato. Maybe some peppers – I added pepper seedlings this year – and green beans and cilantro to go with it, too.

(If I insist on using the doors, it will be a slightly longer trip. Oh well.)

This year's seedlings are a lot shorter than last year's,
and apparently that's good.