I'm so sorry for the long delay since my last blog entry. Frankly I w as so bogged down in writing my book, I had little time for anything else. Only life or death matters received attention during these last couple of months. Then of course is Christmas and recovery time and honestly, I was a little burned out from writing. I needed a break!
But here we are, now into the second week of the New Year and I resolve to do a better job of staying in touch. Since it’s January, there’s not much gardening going on for most of us. But at my house, my daughter’s science project is due in a couple of weeks and guess what dad suggested for her topic; demonstrating how much better seeds started in nutrient rich, organic soil do compared to less organic or sterile soils, that’s what.
The day after Christmas, the seed flats were filled with three types of soil. Flat “A” has sterile soil, consisting of only perlite and vermiculite. Flat “B” has only “potting soil” with NO supplemental fertilizers. Flat “C” was the best soil. It was comprised of a mix of homemade compost and some special organic blends that included 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 are 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 to this point 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, 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 walk by them…multiple times a day. But this time, what I saw was a disaster. All the seedlings were wilted and laying on the soil. It was the same look as if you took highly concentrated Roundup and saturated your most tender young weeds. These tomato seedlings were all but melted! My mind raced to think what could have been in that bottle of liquid worm poop that would be so devastating to these little plants. Then it hit me. The bottle I used must have been a concentrate that is designed to mix with water. I had poured a potent concentrate at full strength directly on the plants!
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 yet of my mistake. I’m giving it until tomorrow afternoon when she gets home from school to see if they make any recovery. I 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. And ironically, flat “C” (the one with the best soil) does appear to have a few that are trying to make a comeback as I write this entry.
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.