So as it turns out, something went wrong with several of my plants and I wound up having to tear out and redo half of my garden. It’s a bit discouraging, but I choose to see it as an opportunity to improve.
The problem was (I think) that I used too much seed starter mix in my topsoil. It dried out as the plants grew and choked the stems. Watering only helped up to a certain point, because either the seed starter would soak it all up or the plants would turn floppy. In the end, half the peppers, two pots of basil, the baby spinach, one of the pea plants, and the entire pot of beans withered and died and had to be thrown out.
The good news is, I still have another pot of peppers that is doing fine after some aeration and careful tending. The sweet basil is recovering nicely, and the catnip and large-leaf spinach sprouts and the larger pea plants are okay too. So I’ve lost nothing that I can’t regrow, really.
I chose to change things up a bit when I replanted. I bought a small cherry tomato plant and some chocolate mint to liven things up, planted several rows of baby spinach in the large square container that used to hold pepper plants, sowed some catgrass for Havoc and Penny, and restarted the beans with a sturdier “bush” variety that doesn’t need as much support. I also aerated the soil in all the surviving pots and tied off the largest pea vine, which is starting to flower. And by sheer dumb luck, I found a few red chili seeds in the bottom of the packet, so husband Ragnar might just get his favorites after all.
Somehow, it felt good to pull the dead plants and put in new ones. It was the same sort of satisfaction you get from being able to scrap a project that just isn’t working and starting over fresh. Cathartic, in a way.
So the moral of the story is to be mindful of your mix when you grow plants from seed, and to observe them for signs of OVERwatering as well as underwatering. There’s definitely going to be some notation in Grovedaughter’s Garden about this whole mess. It’s been a life lesson.