How Long Do I Gotta Wait?
It doesn’t really matter which growing season it is, it seems to happen in both. We add our compost, till our soil, buy our seeds and veggies, plant them up and then…….wait. We water faithfully, check to make sure our veggies are getting adequate light, and then…..wait. We add a little fertilizer to get them going and some active soil microbes into the mix, and then….wait. There is a certain level of patience a gardener has to have. We have to remember that there is no magic formula to get our garden scooting along faster than another gardener’s plot. Sure, we can add the liquid fertilizer at planting time to help the roots establish a bit quicker, and offer the best amended soil possible to have a healthy start, but there are so many other elements that come into play that it is almost laughable to think we have any control in the matter. Temperature fluctuations, sunny or cloudy days, rainfall, windstorms, an errant hail storm (Lord, have mercy), these all play a huge part in the equation when gardening.
(You just never know what you are gonna get, especially living here in San Antonio!)
What I find to be most laughable when I garden is that I expect my veggies to grow like they are on a time-lapse video. I really need to stop watching those! My daughter and I planted pumpkin seeds thinking it would be fun to pluck our own pumpkin from the vine and carve it this Halloween. We piled up little mounds and lovingly placed a few seeds inside it at the correct depth and spacing that the package stated, watered them in, then…..waited. I mean, I checked on them the day after planting them as if they should already be peeking out of the soil and guess what? They weren’t doing anything! Can you believe that? I checked every day for awhile to see if they were actually going to sprout or if I had planted duds.
(Come on already! Layla really wants to carve her own homegrown pumpkin!)
I really wasn’t giving them much of a chance yet. Patience is not my forte. I started saying rude things to them. I thought they were being a little standoffish. I finally decided to give them the silent treatment and let my drip irrigation take care of their needs without one bit of my attention, thank you very much! Guess what? When I slunk out there a few days later, actually about 2 weeks after I had planted the seeds, lo and behold they had busted out of the soil with their heads held high. You know how they say a watched pot never boils? Yeah, that’s kind of the lesson I learned with this one. Had I taken the time to READ more of the instructions on the package of seeds I would have seen the “12 days to germination” disclaimer. Then I wouldn’t have had to act like I was being dissed by my seeds until after the 12 days had passed and nothing had happened.
(Happening in its own sweet time, no thanks to me, thank you very much!)
So I’m encouraging us ALL to remember when planting your seeds and transplants, that THEY know what they are doing, and THEY will grow in their own natural time. It’s easy to get excited about the veggies to come, and then just as easy to get disheartened when it feels like nothing is happening and you feel like you are waiting forever for a seedling to sprout or a veggie to appear. Give your plants the best growing conditions possible, feed them yummy nutrients, give them water when they thirst, then sit back and enjoy the process.
(They will grow, you know? They will grow!)
And to lessen the wait time in between veggie harvests, I’ll share a list, derived from Jerry Parsons, of some veggie transplants by their speed of maturity and frost tolerance or susceptibility. This way you can plan and stagger your plantings so you are harvesting vegetables continuously. Frost tolerant means these veggies are more cold hardy and withstand temperatures below 32 degrees F. Frost susceptible means that these veggies should be planted soon, especially if they are slow growers, as they are more apt to be injured or killed by temperatures below 32 degrees F (these are your second round fall tomatoes, peppers, etc). Enjoy and happy fall vegetable gardening!
Fast Growers (30-60 days) that are Frost Susceptible: Bush Beans, Summer Squash, Zucchini
Fast Growers (30-60 days) that are Frost Tolerant: Beets, Leaf Lettuce, Mustard, Radishes, Spinach, Greens
Moderate Growers (6-80 days) that are Frost Tolerant: Broccoli, Chinese Cabbage, Carrots, Green Onions, Kohlrabi, Parsley
Moderate Growers (60-80 days) that are Frost Susceptible: Cucumbers, Corn, Lima Bush Beans, Okra, Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes
Slow Growers (80 days or more) that are Frost Susceptible: Cantaloupes, Eggplant, Irish Potatoes, Pumpkins, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Winter Squash
Slow Growers (80 days or more) that are Frost Tolerant: Brussels Sprouts, Bulb Onions, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Garlic
Hmmmm. Pumpkins are on the slow-growing, frost-susceptible list? Eeks, I probably should have read the package more thoroughly and planted them a little sooner than I did. Maybe I’ll go out there and glare at them a little bit, just to get them moving a little faster. I’ll let you know what happens.
The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy