Thursday, March 22, 2012

Darn it

Keep bragging about your abnormally warm temperatures, Lower 48ers. Meanwhile I'll be up here, debating about what thickness of long underwear to put on for a run with the dog (medium) and whether or not I should put the arm warmers on (not). My (fully charged) iPod shut off halfway through the run because it was too cold. I should knit or crochet a little iPod cozy for myself.
On the plus side, I didn't have to take a flashlight, despite leaving the house at 8:20 and knowing we wouldn't be back until about 9:00. We're getting over 12 hours of daylight! Everything is so bright, with the sunlight bouncing off the snow. In the mornings it's light enough on my walk to work that I get to see the streetlights shut off. Despite the temperatures, summer is on its way.
At work, my two pea plants have almost reached the tops of their cages already. I'm hoping that this means they're going to start bushing out soon. The bean plant is putting out more true leaves every couple of days, although it's still only about half as tall as the peas (which is as it should be). One of my tomatoes is starting to put out its first true leaves and I'm excited for the progress it's making. My other little tomato, which I started after the other one (the first seed I tried didn't germinate) is looking a bit too leggy, but I don't think that can really be helped unless I buy grow lights. (They're expensive, even on Craigslist!) I think the reason it didn't grow quite as well as the other is simply because it started over a weekend, when I wasn't here to take the plastic off the top and give it room to grow up.
If you're confused by "true leaves", I say that because the first leaf-looking things a plant puts out aren't actually leaves. They're called cotyledons, and they don't do any photosynthesizing. I don't know what their purpose is, either, but I'm sure Wikipedia knows.
If you're confused by my description of my "leggy" plant, it's when the stem of a plant grows faster than the leaves do. This is fine for vine plants (like peas), which are supposed to grow up really fast. But it's not so good with things like tomatoes, because it means that they're not getting the proper conditions for best growth. It also often means that the roots are under-developed. I might try moving this particular plant to a window I've scoped out on the south side of the building for a few days so that it can get some direct sunlight.
And if you're surprised that I used plastic in my seed starting, don't worry. I'm not abandoning my principles. A lot of the journals the library gets come in clear plastic bags. (I wrote to one of the major publishers to say that I thought it was silly for environmental and biology-related journals to waste so much plastic and they basically answered, "It's not our fault, people have asked for the journals to be wrapped. They're recyclable." I do recycle it, but I'd much rather they don't send it in the first place! It seemed like the biggest cop-out of an answer.) So I cut one of those bags open to lay over my seed starts. The warmth helps them to germinate faster and better, and the clearness is just as important because light helps many seeds germinate. (You'll know if it's important because when it is, the seed packet will tell you not to totally cover the seed with dirt.) So I'm simply reusing something before it gets recycled.
We're making progress. I just need to remind myself of that every day. It seems like such minute progress, and it can easily be lost under the metaphorical pile. We're making progress. We're making progress. We're making.....

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