I Couldn't Resist

I already posted a photo shoot today, but then I saw transmitted light photos of leaves on Plants are the Strangest People, and I wanted to try that with my soybeans. I will, definitely, but I decided to do a plant update first (die Pflanzenfortschreibung auf Deutsch).

Some of my little buddies have been having a rough go of it the past few weeks after being transplanted. I think there are a lot of factors involved in this. One being that I transplanted them not from plugs, but straight from the soil. I was too eager early on to put seeds in the dirt, and I didn't consider that they would be unhappy with me when it came time to put them in their more permanent home. So, I know I messed up some seedlings' root systems.

With a lot of plants, that's not an end, it's just a temporary setback. I expected there to be a bit of a lag while the plants settled in and regrew their roots. Some of the plants weren't happy to do that; a few turnips, radishes, and spinach decided to die, instead. I grieved, reseeded, and moved on with my life.

Weeks later, when I had expected the plants to be doing better and being productive, they were exactly the same as when I had stuck them in the ground (except for my star, the Envy soybeans). What was the problem? Too little light? Actually, I think it was too much light. When your seedlings are used to sitting in the window with 5 to 6 hours of sunlight a day and being warm, but not too warm, they understand "Okay, it's not optimal growing time yet, but I'm going to do what I can to get big so I can outcompete all the other plants when it gets warmer and there's more sunlight." Going from that stage to FULL SUN IN MY FACE EVERY DAY OH MY GODS messed them up a bit, I think. It's like going from early Spring to the dead middle of Summer. Things started flowering a few weeks ago, and I was assuaged because beans are precocious. But I noticed what seems to be a tiny inflorescence on one of my spinach plants. Clearly, the plants were getting confused about what they should be doing. The "weather" is telling them that they are at the peak of their season and should think about making babies, but for a lot of these plants, I don't want their babies! Or, at least, not their immature babies. Babies shouldn't make babies, I am a firm believer of this!

So, last week, I unplugged the grow lights. My hypothesis is this: Only a few plants will get true sunlight, just because of the angle. The other plants will use their photosensors to detect the light and start growing to find some of it for themselves (like growing plants in a dark closet--the light will peek from under the door or in the door jamb and they'll grow like crazy to get at it). I know this might stress them too--they aren't getting what they need--but I think I need to build up to the grow lights. I don't want them to be in shock anymore. Or, at least, not in as much shock.

It seems to be working. A lot of the plants that seemed to have been dormant have sent out an extra leaf or two, most of the plants are oriented to catch the sunlight (instead of laying around helter-skelter like they were before), and things just seem a little bit more, well, natural. Let's hope this thing works...!

Here is my flowering(?) spinach. It looks almost like a miniature cauliflower (which I didn't plant).

Some of the carrots that I seeded the other week are sending out leaves! Yay!

The turnips I reseeded at the same time as the carrots are also sending out leaves. I'll have to thin these at some point, but for the moment, they're fine and dandy!

Here's the zucchini I planted... What was I thinking? These guys are beasts! I won't have room... Especially if the potato eye next to it decides to grow too.

Here's a tomato. These weren't doing so well before, but this one is starting to grow new leaves! Hopefully it'll survive; the other ones decided to keel over.

Here are new leaves on my soybeans. After about five or six leaves on the main stem, the soybeans switched to focusing on nodal growth (horizontal, bushy, branching) instead of vertical growth via the apical meristem.

An update on the soybean pod! So far, each soybean seed will cost about $175. I have this pod, which contains two seeds, and another, which has one seed. Hopefully I will harvest more throughout the season. I will be pretty, well... Destitute if each soybean I eat costs $175!

Ah, and here's a little update on the Guerrilla Gardening/Seed Sharing project I have going. The tomatoes aren't growing (they're on the windowsill, not pictured here), but everything else is doing crazy. I even have two or three people who might help me out planting these midnight miracles!

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3 Responses to I Couldn't Resist

  1. Unbelievable man. What is your main light source? I take it even though you have your challenges growing indoors; do you have issues dealing with pests? This is a very informative site. I have friends who would love to garden and there excuse is they don't have any land. Land is great, but if you can overcome the challenges you have with no space, I can only imagine what you can do with space. Great job!!

  2. My main light source, right now, is the sun. The grow light bulbs said to use them 2-6 feet from the plants and to leave them on from 10 to 14 hours. So, I split the differences--the lights are about 2.5 to 3 feet from the plants, and I had them on for 12 hours. Soon, I will put them back on for about 5(the amount of natural sunlight I get), and every week or so I think I will increase by an hour to try to simulate the days getting longer naturally.

    The only pests I've had a problem with are fungus gnats. Any indoor houseplant could get these, they're a common indoor pest. Their larvae are often included in potting soil bags, which some people sterilize, for good reason! They're not too bad--like fruit flies. They don't actually mess with the plants, but they are annoying to have in your apartment. Other than those, I haven't had any problems... But I might get a pitcher plant or venus fly trap (like I did as a child) and see if they do anything spectacular to keep the flies down. Neem oil seems to work pretty well, too.

    Yeah, not having land is NO excuse not to garden! You don't have to do it the crazy way I do, with a box garden, either--you can do it in plastic tubs, mugs, window planters, anything!

  3. That is too funny about the $175 per bean! LOL, I was counting exactly the same way last year when I spent the big buckaroos to completely build a raised bed garden system.

    Of course, it amortizes out and this year we're down to..what..50 bucks a tomato? LOL, just kidding.

    It seems you are moving along with what you've got to work with. It is just going to be feeling it out and seeing what works. By the end of the year you're going to be moving those plants around like a maestro!



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