A Statement of Purpose

Since 2012 I have been responsible for
the garden at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum on Antietam National Battlefield. The Pry House garden began as a 19th century style medicinal and kitchen garden, including medicinal plants, herbs, and vegetables. As close as possible, these plants mirrored those available to the Pry Family in the 1860s, meaning heirloom varieties. Since then, the garden has transformed to focus exclusively on medicinal plants, becoming an exhibit of the flora that was employed by military and civilian caregivers in the Civil War Era.

I am strictly an amateur, with no real experience in growing a garden. The purpose of this blog is to document my experiences as I learn by doing. It is anything but authoritative and I welcome any comments and advice for a greenhorn. Please be kind!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Struggling with Seedlings

Because some of the plants for the Pry Garden need some extra time to grow, but it is still cold outside, I am attempting to start them from seed indoors. Unfortunately, some of the seedlings are just not doing very well, and are dying off. I have all but given up on my original plantings of cabbage and onions.

My medicinal herbs are doing somewhat better, but a few of those seedlings have not been looking so great either. I have been very troubled in trying to figure out what I am doing wrong in their care. I am confident that they are getting a good amount of light. I have tried not to over-water the seedlings, but kept them moist. I have given them fertilizer, but not too much.

In frustration last week, I planted a new set of cabbage seeds, but this time in potting soil. These have all sprouted and are already looking much better than the first group of cabbage. They are stronger and a darker green in color.

My sister Samantha is away at college, but I sent her back to school with her own seeds to grow for the garden. She is growing fennel, which was used both as a food and a medicinal herb during the 19th century. So far her seedlings are doing very well, strong and dark green. Her seeds were planted in potting soil in a makeshift dish. Perhaps I should have her grow all of my seedlings!

I am considering transplanting all of my current seedlings into potting soil. I think that expert gardeners might say that this is the wrong thing to do, but I believe that if I leave them where they are now they will only continue to die. The original seed-starting kit I purchased uses a mixture of shredded coconut husk rather than soil as a growing medium. I wonder if this is part of my problem, or if I am just finding it too difficult to properly use.

I have also planted my tomato seeds, but they have not germinated yet, so there is nothing see. Hopefully we will have more on that late.


  1. Kyle,

    I hate to tell you this but you started your seedlings too soon. I am not going to plant my seeds to get started for about another two weeks and just like you they will be inside. Consult with a Master Gardener for information about when to start seedlings. Good luck.

    1. Only a few of the seedlings have already been started, just those early cold-weather plants that the University of Maryland said should be started early. Actually the onions have not been given enough time before the Spring, but they are dying anyway. If these cabbage seedlings continue to do well, they will be transplanted to the garden by the end of the month. Most of the rest of my seeds will not get started until next month.

  2. They might be too close together. On the ones I a, growing two died that were too close to other ones