Herbs don’t hate me anymore. Showing growth after minor changes.

About a week ago, I published a blog post about my herbs hating me. They were doing so well in their starter pots that it was time to transplant them to regular pots.

Once in their new pots, they began to wither and look very weak. Stems dried out and they were barely rooted in the dirt.

What it looked like after transplanting. Not in good shape.

My last attempt, before replacing the pot with artificial succulents, was add more seeds. I didn’t have the patience to start with a starter pot and peet soil, so I asked Elliot if he wanted to do it.

Hmmmm…he’s a willing helper and I know he means well, but in the process he over-tipped the whole seed packet into the soil for both basil and parsley. We decided to leave it that way and wished for the best. This was going to be a hit or miss experiment, so we kept our expectations low.

With the overabundance of seeds, we wondered if the next morning the herbs would be lushly growing and cascading down the wall. (none of these happened)

It’s been about 5 days and the new seeds have done wonders. Maybe I needed to add more seeds in the transplanting process. oyyyy. I usually wing this kind of stuff and figure I’ll learn what to do next time. So far, I’ve learned to water them sparingly (the soil gets too soggy), raise the pots on one side to let water drain, and place by windowsill for sunshine and air.

A few days after accidentally dumping a whole bunch of seeds. Could that have been the problem? Not enough seeds?

My gardening journey continues each year and it’s a slow one. It’ll be a gardening success when we can actually taste some of these herbs or add to our cooking. 🙂

My herb garden hates me

My kids and I started a small herb garden two months ago with seeds. They were thriving in starter pots and they seemed ready for the transplant into a trio of cute herb pots with drainage holes.

This is a fragile move for small seedlings, but my kids were so eager to help that I let them do it. After they gladly made a mess and kind-of-planted the roots on the surface, I buried the roots deeper.  

Maybe the transplanting went awry! Perhaps the seedlings weren’t ready? I’ve been taking all the proper steps like placing them near a sunny spot with good airflow, watering every other day, and using pots with drain holes.

The thin green leaves and stems withered. I gently stirred the soil to see if something was wrong with the soil, but nothing out of the ordinary.

I wanted to make pesto with our basil harvest. Not looking promising as of now.

Just like these herbs, change is hard for people too. Sometimes it seems like we’re thriving, but new life changes, even for the better, can bring it all down.

Another gardening attempt: herbs and vegetables

April has been an unusual month of spending an inordinate amount of time at home.

So this month, for a lack of fun things to do, we are growing our own herbs. Maybe a pinch of homegrown herbs will spice up our dishes. This time around I’m taking really good care of them with daily watering (just the right amount) and placing them by the window for daily fresh air and sunshine. They’ve had a few tumbles as I move them on and off the windowsill. Still, they are standing up to my clumsiness and thriving. My goal is to transplant them to bigger pots in the next few weeks. Organic soil and fertilizer have arrived from Target and we’re going to do more container gardening.

I bought an herbs kit from a family-operated farm called Spade to Fork, and it came with everything you need to start your herbs garden. It also came with detailed instructions of how to plant, transplant, to prune and harvest. I dislike reading instructions or following them, but this instruction pamphlet (glossy too) is essential for a black thumb person like me. My kids are surprised that I haven’t thrown it away yet. It says to call if you have questions and having that reassurance makes me feel more confident as a gardener. Sometimes just knowing that someone can help makes all the difference.

We’re also growing peas and regrowing leek bottoms in containers. For these vegetables, I’m going by my previous years’ experience and making modifications to keep them alive.

Herb seed kit. So convenient and good for black thumbs like me.
Green pea seeds that opened up on a wet paper towel over 3 days
Onion heads and dried egg shells
Parsley seedlings. The seed at the top of the stem is a new thing I’ve seen.
Pea shoots in strawberry clam container with its own drainage holes. Great way to recycle.

Taking gardening troubles into our own hands

We’re taking gardening to a new level this time around!

First of all, none of our plants have died since we planted them this summer. Second, we’ve pruned, remedied some overcrowding issues in our tomato pot, added crushed egg shells for extra nutrition, and added support sticks to help long stems. Third, we studied our plants by checking their leaves, researched online about how to make our plants thrive, and generally invested more time and interest in caring for our green friends.

And drum roll please…

We hand pollinated our pumpkin plant!! I didn’t even know this was possible. Our babysitter who has gardened extensively looked at our plants and told me our pumpkin plant only had males. She didn’t see any bulbs on the stems, which would be the female flower. Facts learned: first blooming flower is a male; a little bulb on a stem that will sprout a flower on top is a female; if no fruit has grown that means it hasn’t been pollinated by bees; and placing the plant in a shaded area could stymie bees (that mainly like sunny spots) from pollinating.

I found this amazing and helpful website that explained how to remedy the lack of fruit: Pumpkin Plant Not Producing: Why A Pumpkin Plant Flowers But No Fruit (https://www.gardeningknowhow.com)

Hand pollinate. Ellis rubbed her finger on the pollen of the male flower to get the pollen and rubbed it around the green emerging bulb on a stem (not sure if it was a bulb but it felt harder than a budding flower). As you can tell, we improvise a lot.

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Circled areas show where pollen was rubbed on green bulbs 

There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.

— Janet Kilburn Phillips

When Elliot learned the yellow stuff was pollen, he worried about his allergies flaring up again. Ellis came to the rescue and offered to do it instead.

Kids problem solving together with no tears = happy mommy.

Update:  No fruit has emerged so far. However, we feel very proud to have been proactive in doing something useful to help our plant grow fruits. Also, kids learned the important roles of bees in helping flowers to reproduce and continue the life cycle of nature. This is just a thought, but I think this hands-on lesson would be good for explaining to older kids in learning about the reproductive cycle.