Potting Soil: Why NOT To Use It For Seed Starting

As of now, if you are into gardening you’ve probably already started some seeds to grow into plants.  If you haven’t started your seeds, it’s not too late!  On this post, I want to talk about potting soil and why NOT to use it for starting seeds, especially tomatoes.

I say tomatoes because this happens to be the vegetable that I discovered this phenomenon while starting my plants.  Around the end of February, I started my tomato seeds in seed-starting box.  However, the only soil I had around at the time was potting soil.  I figured it looked the same as regular ‘dirt’ so it should be alright to use a medium to start my seeds.

It worked okay to start the seeds, but after the majority of the plants dawned their initial leaves, their growth start to slow.  They still look healthy and green, but they just didn’t shed anymore leaves or grow in general.  So, this is when I decided to grab some soil from outside.

I conducted an experiment of sorts.  I kept a third of the seedlings in the potting soil, a third was immediately planted outdoors, and the final third was planted in the soil from outside but the containers were kept inside right beside the seedlings in the potting soil.  I wanted to see if the soil conditions were hindering the plant growth in any way at all.  The results were astounding.

TomatoSeedlingsInPottingSoilAndOutsideSoil
Comparison of tomatoes in potting soil and outside soil showing the growth after the thinning stage.

As of today, the seedlings in the potting soil still look healthy, however they haven’t grown at all since the thinning took place.  The ones that I planted outside have grown marginally, mainly due to the cooler nights.  But, the seedlings that I placed in the outside soil and kept inside have grown tremendously.  Take a look for yourself!

My conclusion is this-  Potting soil will only ‘maintain’ a plant’s current growth.  There just isn’t the right amount of nutrients included in the soil.  “But how did the seeds turn into seedlings in the first place?”  During the germination process, the taproot uses the seed as energy to grow into a seedling.  It’s a compact feeding system on it’s own, however, once it reaches a stage where the seed has exhausted it’s energy it needs outside nutrients.  Potting soil doesn’t have these needed nutrients.

How is your experience with potting soil?  Have you actually been able to ‘grow’ anything in potting soil?  What’s your thoughts on the ‘matter’? 🙂

Can You Clone A Carrot? Part One

Carrot1

This was the question that I asked myself as I was looking for the cheapest, best looking bag of carrots while in the grocery store a month ago.  Can you clone a carrot?  I understand you can clone other types of plants and vegetables, but what about a root vegetable?  So genuinely, this peaked my interest and I decided to give it a shot.

I’m almost positive they spray the same type of chemical on carrots as they do on potatoes to get them to stop ‘growing’.  On potatoes, it stops growing the eyes and on carrots it’s the leafy greens on top.  So this made it even more challenging.  But, as I was putting away the freshly bought carrots, I noticed we still had a couple of older ones in the fridge.  One of these carrots had a small, and I mean very small green stem protruding from the top of the carrot!

I decided to cut the carrot in half and kept the top part with the stem.  I boiled some water for 10 minutes and let sit to get back to room temperature.  I added a teaspoon of sugar and dissolved by stirring.  Lastly, I stuck two toothpicks lightly into the carrot and placed it in a vase with the sugar water and sat it in the windowsill facing the south.

carrot3About three weeks have passed now and I have a carrot with a healthy root system starting to form. However, after reading and researching this topic, I quickly found that these roots will not grow new carrots.  From my research, I found that the carrot itself is the taproot from the seed it was sprouted from, therefore I need an “original” part of the seed/plant.  After thinking about it some more, I decided to take a cutting from the leafy part which had four stems, to try to make a ‘clone’.  After all, a cutting should take root, which may make a ‘taproot’.

carrot2I placed the cutting in the same vase as the carrot about 2 week ago.  Still no roots, however it stayed very healthy looking.  So as far as taking a cutting from the leaf system and trying to clone it that way, it doesn’t work.  At this point, it’s looking like I may have to bring this one into flowering in order to produce more carrots, which may take up to the second year to get a flowering head!  But wait!  This WOULD be the second year.  The first year of it’s life, it grew the carrot, so we may be in luck in that area!

I was wrong about my original theory, however that is the fun part about gardening- trying to see what will and will not work.  BUT! I’ve also come across another possible way to clone carrots which I’ll be trying.  I’ll give an update soon!

 

UPDATE: Day 30 Homestead Tomato Tricotyledon

It has been a full 30 days since I started my Homestead Tomato seeds and it’s time to get a quick update on the happenings of the “Three-Leafed” guy!  On my previous post, I showed that out of about 30 plants, I had one seedling that decided to have three seed leaves instead of the ordinary two leaves.

HomesteadTomatoTricotyledonDay30

Over the weekend, I decided to go ahead and thin the seedlings out, mainly because they were getting way too crowded for my liking.  Good thing I did because the roots started to intertwine with each of the plants like something fierce.  When I thinned these seedlings, I basically divided the plants into sets of three.  One set I went ahead and planted outside in a raised box.  One set I kept in the seed starting pots and still inside.  And the last set, that included the Tricot, I put into clay pots using the outside soil, but brought it inside.  Again, another experiment to see which will out perform each other.

HomesteadTomatoTricotyledonDay30-2I will go ahead and say that I really didn’t notice much progression from my first post to the thinning stage of the Tricot tomato while some of the other seedlings were advancing.  However, since I have thinned the seedlings we are starting to see the formation of the actual leaves take place.  Hopefully, it will catch up and surpass the other plants in the days to come!

What the heck is a Tricotyledon?

As I was checking on my tomato and zucchini seedlings tonight, I came across something very odd. Once a seed germinates, generally it will produce a seedling with two seed leaves. These leaves help start the photosynthesis of the plant and allows it to turn from a seedling into a real plant.

tomato-tricotyledon
Tomato Tricotyledon

After checking my zucchini, I scanned over the tomato starter pots and noticed that 1 out of almost 30 plants had 3 leaves, making it a tricoyledon! A quick search online and I found different stories ranging from 50% more yield to 1/3 more to no yield at all. Also found that if it were productive, then the seeds were less likely to be any good for a next round of germination. Not much information was found on whether or not cloning would work.

Here’s what I planned to do: I am going to continue to allow my tomato tricot to grow from seedling into a mature plant. Once it gets time to transplant from indoor to outdoor, I will separate from others and do some comparisons. I would definitely love for this thing to produce more than the others, however it will be interesting to see, if any, the differences.