My seedlings this year are the best I’ve ever conjured. Every year, I save seeds from my favorite tomatoes and peppers and start them indoors in mid-April. I have a nice seedling cart for this purpose that has adjustable hanging lights and a nice zippered plastic covering that holds the heat and moisture in and speeds plant growth.
What has always happened until this year is that the plants get very leggy and weak as they grow toward the light. I’ve tried putting the light practically on top of the plants in case their stretch to reach the light is the cause. Thinking they lacked nutrients, I’ve tried compost tea, worm castings, watering with water left in the bottom of my vegetable steamer, more water, less water (I refuse to use Miracle Grow).
Despite all of my best efforts, they never looked anywhere near as healthy and sturdy as the ones at the local nursery (though once planted in the ground, they grew and produced well). This year as I
was standing in the greenhouse at Miller’s Country Store, I noticed they had a fan blowing a gentle breeze over their plants and I remembered having read somewhere that it’s good to brush your hands back and forth over your plants to stimulate stronger stem growth. This advice suddenly made sense – clearly no one at the nursery was doing this (which was why I had originally rejected this notion), but the fan was providing the same type of stimulation for the plants to stabilize themselves.
That very day I began a regular regimen of brushing my hands back and forth over the seedlings once daily or every other day at least.
That was the missing piece!
This year, my plants are strong and sturdy and I’m not embarrassed to pass along the extras to friends and family.
Is there a lesson in here somewhere? Do our own challenges and hardships stimulate stronger growth?
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Posted by Patty Shipley.