Did you know, that when two babies are having a contest in which one says, “Mommy, I am the SADDEST BABY EVER,” and the other claims, “No, I am the SADDEST BABY EVER,” and you have to evaluate them and decide who is actually sadder because, realistically, you can only fix one baby at a time…you kind of feel like a jerk. Especially since the baby you choose to work on immediately stops crying while the other one continues yelling, “I am SO SAD!” while also adding, “And WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?!?” (Tommy is king of the reproachful glare, yes indeed.) Sigh.
Anyway, it’s spring! Sort of. I mean, the snow has melted (except where it was piled and stacked by the plows into good-sized mountains that are still clinging to life) and the sun is brightening, and temperatures are warming, so we’re thinking of spring. With the success of our little sunflower seedlings, we decided to try to grow a few more things. I’m a bit nervous, since I seem to have something of a black thumb when it comes to house plants…or flower gardens, for that matter, and never mind what that spindly poinsettia from Christmas 2008 has to say. I’m surprised he’s still alive, to be honest.
So, the other night the boys and I went down to the HOMAC (that’s the Home Amenities Center to us English-speakers) for some seeds and potting soil. Yup, I’m buying dirt. I’ll do anything I can to stack the deck in favor of these hapless little plants we intend to
kill raise. We picked up seeds that I think say to plant them in March or April up here AND that I recognize at least vaguely – Zinnias, Alyssum, Morning Glory, and carrots. Max and Charlie both like carrots. That would have been that, but Max asked sadly, “Mommy, don’t they have any strawberries here?” (Max is madly in love with strawberries.) As it happened, they had a few little strawberry plants marked down to 100 yen apiece because apparently you’re supposed to plant them earlier in the year. I had already seen them but I wasn’t going to buy them – last year I had a bad experience with some rootbound HOMAC clearance pansies – but he really, really, really wanted to try growing strawberries. What the heck. Why not, right? I even used my rudimentary Japanese to verify that the plants were, in fact, strawberries. (“Ichigo desu, ne?” The clerk checked for me. “Hai, ichigo desu!”)
After the boys went to bed I started reading up on strawberry plants – I figured that out of all the plants we’re going to
kill grow, Max would be most devastated over the death of the strawberries, so I’d better keep them alive as long as possible. We transplanted them to a nice large planter yesterday, and let me tell you, we went to some lengths to give them a fighting chance.
First off, the planter has an internal plastic grate inside at the bottom for better drainage. We gathered a bunch of gravel from our road to layer over that. At this point I stood a pair of toilet paper tubes in the center of the planter and filled them with rocks to provide ‘a central drainage core’ (we filled the rest of the planter around them, then pulled the tubes out). Then, we dug a bowlful of the sandy soil behind the house (the previous occupants had a shed there, which is the only reason I can think that there’s so much sand in the soil in that spot) to layer over the gravel. Finally, we filled the top half of the planter with our potting soil. There were pictures of vegetables on the bag, so I’m really hoping this is the kind of dirt that strawberries like. The internet claimed they like a lot of organic matter and good drainage, and that’s what I’ve tried to provide for them. (They were pretty rootbound, although both plants had roots that had escaped from the blob of dirt inside their pots and just coiled around at the bottom, waiting for some dirt to spread into. I tried to break up the rootballs a bit without causing too much breakage, but…we’ll see.) I hope they don’t die.
We did some more planting today: I’ve been saving my egg cartons.
You may be tempted, if you are sprouting seeds in egg cartons, to cut the lids off immediately. I would recommend that you don’t. I don’t know how much free counter space you have, but I have next to none. (Even when the kitchen is clean.) If you leave the lids on, you can stack them until the seeds sprout and deal with your new little plants as they come up.
(That diaper box is holding our bag of dirt.) I had Max and Charlie use measuring scoops from the kitchen to fill the cartons – if our strawberry expedition yesterday taught us anything, it’s that small children have difficulty keeping dirt ON their trowels.With the scoop, they got the dirt to the egg cartons most of the time.
I also elected to use my spray bottle for water instead of one of our many small watering cans…again on the basis of mess potential and accuracy. This actually allowed the boys to water the seeds very neatly.
Charlie was more excited about the flowers than the “food” seeds.
Even my three year old watered neatly with a spray bottle! I think I’m onto something here.
See? All neatly covered and stackable until the seedlings poke through the soil. If this works out, this summer we’ll have three different kinds of flowers plus strawberries, carrots, and jalapeÃ±os (whose seeds were sent to me last year by AN ANONYMOUS SOURCE – you know, in case it was illegal). Hmm. I hope they don’t all die.