Beginner Gardener Fail

If you've been following along for a while you may recall that back in February I planted some Pansy seeds. I've been trucking along, watering them every couple of days, and just patiently waiting. About two weeks ago I transplanted them out of their starter container and into bigger, less crowded four-packs. Kept watering them. Thinking everything was going along quite well.

Last week my mum (lifetime gardener) asked me when I had planted them originally, it was February 3. She said she thought they should be much bigger by now and wondered if something was wrong. So we both did some research. As a fairly newbie gardener, I didn't really know what I was looking for, so I didn't come across much helpful info. Mum did though. She found timelines of how long it should take for Pansies to get to the various stages of growth, suggested care info, and transplanting guidelines.

We don't know specifically what went wrong, but my mum has a few possibilities.

  • The dirt we've been using is relatively good quality, but it is very black. So she thinks they probably didn't get enough water when they were little babies because the soil always looked damp. We're remedying that now with more regular watering and actually feeling the soil instead of just looking at it.

  • We transplanted them too early, the stress will have set them back a bit. It seems like you should wait until seedlings have 4 solid healthy leaves before transplanting, I transplanted when they had 2.

  • We didn't fertilize them enough. They've been fertilized a few times recently, so hopefully, that will have a positive impact on them.

  • Pansies require about 14 days of darkness ( for germination. I planted them and then set them right in the huge south living room window where they probably got 8-10 hours of direct sun every day.

  • We've also now accidentally over-watered them this past week so they're trying to recover from drowning now.

My pansies are 10 weeks old and they look like this:

They should be double or triple this size and starting to bloom already.

West Coast Seeds mentions that they should be given approximately 3 months of growing time indoors before hardening off and transplanting outside. So, we're still a few weeks off that. Fingers crossed they'll catch up.

I suppose this is not really a fail, as much as a lesson learned, and a reminder of the value of mentorship. On that note, I don’t think there really is such a thing as a gardening fail, because gardening is a practice in experimentation and learning.

It never would have crossed my mind that they were growing too slowly. I probably would have just trundled along under-watering them and hoping they'd eventually catch up.

It's a bit disappointing because we won't have Pansies to plant out quite as soon as we'd hoped, but ah well. Lesson learned to apply in future.

On the plus side, today I discovered our first Johnny Jump-up blooming out in the garden. They're tough brave little things, bless their souls for bringing us the first floral colour to our yard every year.