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Growing Vegetables

(Ongoing)

I've wanted to grow vegetables at home for a long time, but for one reason or another I wasn't able to do it until now. I'm not planning on producing a lot, but this is my first foray into gardening so I'm looking forward to learning the basics.

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If you thought the task on formatting devices was out of character for this site, now I'm going to journal about gardening šŸ˜…. To be honest, I wasn't sure about starting this task; but I began planting a couple of months ago and the idea has been nagging at me. So just to get it out of my head, here it is. And hopefully, it'll be interesting to others as well.

First of all, why do I want to grow my own vegetables (and herbs)? Certainly not to save money, because I don't think I will (even if I do, the time investment won't be worth it). But there are lots of good reasons. Most of my work and hobbies involve looking at a screen; I even read books and manga in a tablet. So a new hobby that doesn't is very welcome. I also think this type of skill is very enriching, even if I don't need it in today's society. And there is also some usefulness to it, because hopefully I'll be able to grow some vegetables that aren't so easy to find around here (like chili peppers).

So yeah, here's my journey from a complete beginner to hopefully being able to eat some of my own produce. Feel free to let me know if I'm doing something stupid though!

Since I was such a beginner, where did I start? Well, first I asked about it, and I got a recommendation for a couple of books. I've read them and I think they were very useful, particularly The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible. One of the takeways from this book was that plants need basically 3 things to grow: Sun, Water, and Air. It may seem obvious, but reading this book made me understand how plants grow a lot better. My understanding is that If you can manage these 3 correctly (together with soil pH and nutrients, which went a bit over my head), you're pretty much set.

I started planting from seed in some egg cartons on March 1st; I planted 6 JalapeƱos and 6 Basils. I actually placed 3 seeds in each slot, because I had heard that the germination rate is not always great. But so far it seems like most of them grew (90%+), so when I do it again I'll probably only use one or two seeds per slot. The initial step was to water them and leave them out of the light for about 3 days, then I brought them out to the window sill and kept them there for a long time. I watered them roughly once a day (according to the book, Basil and other herbs actually benefit from harsh conditions so I didn't always water them daily). By the way, one nice hack I learned from another book was to use a plastic bottle with holes on the top for watering. It was perfect to water small seedlings, but even now I've just moved to a bigger bottle.

On March 8th, I started seeing the first Basil sprouts. And it wasn't until March 18th that I saw that happen for the JalapeƱos. I have to confess that I was surprised at how slow they grew. In part I think that's because it wasn't the right weather yet, but it's also possible that I was messing something up. I guess I'll learn with time :).

Then on March 21st I planted Tomatoes from seed as well, and they didn't sprout until April 1st. The other plants were growing but still not as quickly as I'd like or thought they would. It wasn't clear by reading the book when I should transplant seedlings into their own pots, but searching on the web I found that it should be done when the first set of true leaves show up. This didn't happen until April 4th for Basil, and it was also around this time that I started taking plants outside for some time to harden them up (I never made them spend the night though, until two days before transplanting). One issue I had is that Basil seedlings fell into the ground very often. I'm not sure why it happened, as I found them on the ground when I came back to take them inside. Maybe birds liked it more, or the wind threw the lighter box, etc. I still don't know why, maybe I'll learn more in the future. On April 18th, JalapeƱos and Tomatoes showed their first true leaves.

Finally, on April 30th I started taking them out for the night to prepare for transplanting. Unfortunately, this killed the Basil so that was that :/. But funnily enough, some weeks before I had gotten an already grown Basil plant as a gift, so I transplanted that one into a pot. Transplanting was not too hard, and I also added some fertilizer to the new soil (I think this should be done only twice in a plant's life: on transplant and when they start getting big). I just followed the instructions on the box for quantities. Books I've read mentioned making your own compost and such, but I don't think I'm ready for that yet.

Today, two weeks since transplant, most plants seem to be growing a lot quicker than before which is nice (except one tomato that didn't survive). The plants are still a long way from producing anything edible, but I'm happy that I seem to be on the right track with some of them.

And that's it for now! I'll keep updating this as I go, but the updates will probably be very sporadic. This task could technically be open forever, but I'll consider it done when the growing season is over (November or December, I suppose).

Here's some pictures of the timeline I described:

March 1st ā€” Seeds planted

Seeds planted

March 8th ā€” First Basil sprouts

First Basil sprouts

March 18th ā€” First JalapeƱo sprouts

First JalapeƱo sprouts

April 9th ā€” Tomato, Basil, & JalapeƱo seedlings

Tomato seedings

Basil seedings

JalapeƱo seedings

May 1st ā€” Transplant

JalapeƱos transplant

Basil and Tomatoes transplant

May 11th ā€” They are growing!

JalapeƱos growing

Basil and Tomatoes growing