Success at Sharing Seedlings

Many thanks to the 200+ people (and counting) who were willing to procure their seedlings from Delectation of Tomatoes this month! Especially to those who placed their requests before April 1st. And those who are willing to host seedlings! Though logistics can be a challenge, knowing what to plant and how many is far more efficient in terms of resource and space utilization.

Proceeds from sharing seedlings has allowed me to pay off debts incurred for the half-finished greenhouse and to purchase weed barrier fabric and drip hoses for planting about 6,000 square feet of tomatoes for seed saving.

Not to mention being in a position to hire some excellent and much needed help to comply with a visit from the local code enforcement officer who issued a citation for “weeds and junk”, with threat of a massive fine and criminal charges.

“A minimum of 10 days will be allowed to comply with Ordinance 2018-01. Failure to comply will result in a criminal citation and mandatory court appearance.”

Yikes! I don’t live in a Home Owners Association. No CCCR’s here. Most people in this town of 1,300 live, like me, well below the poverty line. The rich snobs just need to go live somewhere else, or create their privileged part of town, with an HOA, where all the neighbors get to tell each other how they live their lives. That’s just not my style. Can you tell I’m irritated?

And horribly inconvenienced.

But with some good help and $, very good progress was made. At least 10 loads taken to the dump. Countless weeds pulled or cut. The pile of branches from the Siberian Elm tree burned, along with truckloads of weeds (it was a 5-hour job for two people).

Here is what remains of the stump.

Siberian Elm Stump

Of course the really big project was getting some 6,000 seedlings potted up, hardened off, and about 2/3 of them delivered to pick-up locations throughout the state of Utah. Details listed at:

DT Seedlings

Some good help and an old concrete mixer helped make it possible to pot up as many as 500 seedlings in one day, from plug trays to 3-1/2″ pots. I started using this mixer when I was about 10 years old and helped with my father’s masonry business on evenings, weekends, and summers.

Over the past month, I have had to close up the low tunnel at night and turn on electric heaters and fans for about 22 nights. Tonight (May 31st) will hopefully be the last night of high frost risk until October. There was actual frost at least 15 times during May, with recorded temperatures nearly always 5-10° colder than the local forecast or official temperatures for the town. I guess I live in a cold spot, or that’s just the nature of living in a high desert climate at 6,200′ elevation.

Fortunately, no plants have died from frost. But about 40 were chewed just about to the nub by deer (I got lazy one night and did not fully close the deer exclosure with the low tunnel) and over 100 were severely damaged or destroyed by high winds from plastic flapping violently again the tender young seedlings that were near the edges. Most of those munched on by deer are recovering well, while those beaten to a pulp by the wind are just dead.

Trips to deliver seedlings have been relatively enjoyable: A change of pace, not moving hands and fingers as fast as possible every waking moment, taking in the scenery, and especially the opportunity to interact with other gardeners. Following is a small compilation of photos of sights seen during travels and other interesting observations.

I am not a lepidopterist, but this caterpillar appears to be of the species Garden Tiger Moth (Arctia caja) or closely related species. I’ve spotted several of them and perhaps should take the time for better photos and closer observation. I am a naturalist at heart, but don’t often take the time to pause and “smell the roses”. A patch of volunteer rose bushes are “weeds” that I’ve not had the heart to eliminate yet. The cactus blossom were stunning and beautiful against the stark, dry desert; but I did not smell them.

I also took some time off to take a series of 50+ photographs of the Super Flower Blood Moon eclipse. Regrettably, I just don’t have the proper equipment for taking such photos. But the event was meaningful enough to me that I cannot help sharing a few photos.

Fall garden cleanup was started on May 20th. Garlic bulbs finally planted on May 22nd in growbags from which dead pepper plants were removed. For the most part, they are doing much better than expected! First tomato seedlings, about 60 of them, transplanted on May 23rd into the large pots. Another 140 were transplanted into growbags on May 27th. These are the beginning of the seed saving project.

First tomato seedlings, about 60 of them, transplanted on May 23rd into the large pots. Another 140 were transplanted into growbags on May 27th. These are the beginning of the seed saving project. I am attempting to transplant directly from plug trays into growbags, and eventually into the main garden patch, which will be about 6,000 square feet.

Regrettably, once I started working outdoors, potting up seedlings as fast as possible, and delivering seedlings, I ran out of energy to plant seeds in the middle of the night. Between April 20th and April 28th, l planted tomato seeds for the seed saving project from the letter A through “Green Tiger”. I did not manage to pick up this seed planting project again until May 24th. So many distractions, interruptions, and other priorities, not least of which is this inexplicable urge to sleep – just so inconvenient! One plug tray took me literally 4 days to get planted. I just could not seem to force myself to stay awake. As of today (May 31st), I am just starting into the letter “L”, so less than half way finished with planting seeds indoors. At up to five hours per plug tray, this is turning out to be a project that is really testing my endurance and resolve.

Final section on philosophy and psychology, at least somewhat related to gardening. Unfortunately, I am once again beyond exhaustion, even though I have 50,000 words in mind to write. So I’ll just end with this little tidbit that I stumbled upon recently – the “Sigma Empath” which seems to describe me rather well. Makes me feel like some team of researchers got inside my head and figured out what makes me tick. Makes me feel exposed and figured out.

Not that it matters much what I am like as a human being, since I am largely not much more than a complex production machine. Out of time to explore more of this…