I’m sorry for the long delay since my last blog entry. Frankly, I was so bogged down in writing my book that I had little time for anything else. During these last couple of months, only life-or-death matters received attention. Christmas offered a little recovery time, but honestly, I was a little burned out from writing. I needed a break!
So, here we are into the second week of the New Year, and I resolve to do a better job of sharing updates. Since it’s January, there’s not much gardening going on for most of us, but at my house, my daughter has science project due in a couple of weeks. Care to guess what Dad suggested for her topic? I thought it would be a good idea to demonstrate how much better seeds started in nutrient-rich, organic soil would do compared to less organic or sterile soils.
The day after Christmas, we filled seed flats with three types of soil. Flat “A” is sterile soil, consisting of only perlite and vermiculite. Flat “B” is only “potting soil” with no supplemental fertilizers. Flat “C” is the best soil – comprised of a mix of homemade compost and some special organic blends with worm castings and other natural minerals. In theory and hopefully in practice, flat C would outperform the others – simply on the merits of having healthy, living soil.
Three days later, thing were going exactly as planned. Flat C germinated first, and today, it still led the pack in height, color and overall development. My daughter and I evaluated our progress so far and were pleased that all was going exactly to plan. This would be a great demonstration, I thought, and I couldn’t wait to show off the results. Chalk up another one for reasons to have healthy soil, I thought to myself.
After Rachel left the room, I watered all three flats. Wanting to keep the experiment all organic and give them all the same treatment (other than soil quality), I used an old bottle of liquid worm poop fertilizer. I gave each flat a good drink and patted myself on the back for what was shaping up to be a fine and graphic demonstration. The seedlings looked great, and all was well.
Two hours later, I returned to the room and checked on the plants – just as I do every time I’m in the room (multiple times a day). This time, what I saw was a disaster. All the seedlings were wilted and laying on the soil. They looked as if I had saturated them with highly-concentrated Roundup. These tomato seedlings were all but melted!
My mind raced to think what in that bottle of liquid worm poop would be so devastating to these little plants. Then, it hit me. The bottle I used must have been a concentrate designed to be diluted with water. I had poured a potent concentrate, at full strength, directly on these tender seedlings!
Even though I know better, careless mistakes can still happen, and this was a prime example. Unfortunately, it’s too late to start over, and I haven’t told Rachel of my mistake – yet. I’m waiting until she gets home from school tomorrow afternoon to see if they make any recovery.
I’ve doused each seedling with pure water to try and flush the liquid nutrients from the plant and soil. At this point, I’m hoping for just one or two survivors from each tray. Ironically as I write this, flat “C” (the one with the best soil) does appear to have a few that are trying to make a comeback.
Wouldn’t that make for another bit of irony to this experiment? If flat “C” is the only one to produce a few survivors, it would have to be because of the soil. Now, that’s a test I never thought to put on these plants, but what a great testament to the power of healthy soil. Stay tuned, and I’ll keep you posted. This could be a better science project than we even imagined.