Friday, April 6, 2012

Not my Kind of Legs

Everybody is trying to start seeds in their window right now and I would like to address this with a few pictures, and a few short words.

Growing plants in the window isn't the best idea. This is because there isn't enough light, and the windowsill is a very cold place at night.

Here are some pictures of plants growing near a window. Notice how much the plants are growing towards the light. This is what is called a leggy plant. Notice also that the plants have very thin stems, which means they are weak.

Weak plants are difficult to transplant, because you have to be ultra careful when handling. Plus, the plants won't be strong enough to withstand any environmental assaults. If you don't have access to some grow lights, then a better tactic would be to germinate the seeds indoors where it is warm, then grow them outside under cover of a coldframe, plastic tunnel, cloche, or some other protection with access to real sunlight. Bring them inside each night to keep them warm. They will grow slower during cool spring days, but the plants will be much heartier.


  1. Now I understand why my transplants rarely take - or if they do, they are stunted. My plan this year is to buy them already started. The kids and I have some started indoors mainly for the fun of it... but I want veggies this year, so I think I'm just going to buy from a nursery (and support local business).

  2. Starting plants indoors is often the biggest barrier to people getting a jump on the season. I teach a workshop called Successful Starts for this very reason.
    It is fun to watch little plants grow, even if they aren't the most perfect plants in the world, but I like your idea of buying plants if you want to get things in the ground soon. I suggest going to the farmers market in the U-District, Ballard, or any of the other great neighborhoods that host one. Some of these folks might be smaller and less established than a well-known nursery, and you might even meet the grower face-to-face!

  3. Can't you add dirt/plant deep when you transplant the seedlings? I've had to do that with my seedlings this spring, since the weather has been so bizarre. I can't move them outside when we get random frost warnings, even though they should be ready to "harden". Many that weren't doing well reacted favorably to adding soil higher on the stem, clear up to the "baby" leaves, in some cases.

    Since this was my first year really working the garden on a large scale, I'm taking this as a learning experience, and hope to keep you up to date on the outcomes.

    Oh, did you check out my Facebook page, we have plums already!

  4. You can plant deep, but some of the stems are so fragile that they break when handled. The second picture is of some squash plants, which are obviously a lot stronger, simply because the cotyledons (baby leaves) and embryonic plants are larger than the plants from the top picture.
    Alot of people plant deep no matter the strength of the stem. Plants are great at doing something we animals can't do, which is that a cell in one part of the body can "de-differentiate" to become another type of cell. That means a stem cell can become a root cell. This is why tissue culture works.

    I'm jealous you have plums. But we should have strawberries soon!