Balcony Alchemy

After a questionable start, today I finally moved my pumpkin seedlings outside! I had bought a little "Jiffy Cup" pumpkin from Lowe's for 50 cents. The dixie-cup package promised it would be "Fun!" and "Easy to Grow!", and assured me that seeds and soil were inside.

Actually, the package included brief instructions and the aforementioned dixie cup, inside which was a "Jiffy Pot" (looked essentially like a dixie cup made out of some variety of compacted plant matter). It also included 3 unassuming-looking pumpkin seeds and a peat-moss pellet, plus an oddly shaped clear plastic lid. The pellet, which looked like a mini hockey puck, expanded quickly in warm water, which I poured directly on top of it (per instructions). I mixed the newly-created soil around inside the cup, to aerate it and whatnot (the instructions told me to do this), and then poked the three seeds in, pointy-side down. Then, the instructions indicated I should cover the cup with the plastic lid and put in a sunny window. The problem was, the lid is designed to go on two ways, and the most obvious and intuitive way to put the lid on compacts the soil I just lovingly fluffed, and makes a bit of a mess. Eventually, I figured it out, but I feared I had done irreparrable damage to my pumpkins.

After a few days, some white moldy-looking stuff appeared on the soil, so I cut back on the watering. A week went by, but still no sprouting, so I purchased another Jiffy Cup pumpkin and repeated the process, placing it in the windowsill next to my failed experiment. The next day...

My "dead" pumpkin sprouted! I was thrilled. A few days later, pumpkin II was also up and running. I kept them inside until they sprouted their first "real" leaves (the first leaves that come up are rounded cotyledon leaves, and the real leaves grow up out of that - Thanks, Botany class!). I lost one seedling to a 'cat attack', but I have 3 others that seem to be doing fine. Today, I deemed they were ready for the wide world of the balcony. I realize that it's very late to be starting pumpkins, but it doesn't get cold around here until late October usually, and sometimes later than that. Without the danger of a fall frost, I have confidence that my pumpkins will have time to ripen, if I get any fruit to develop. At any rate, they look green and happy now in their new, oversized planter.

Yay! That really was fun!