Sunday, April 27, 2008

Update last weekend in April ‘08

I have had a quiet time in the garden this week. I have been busy elsewhere on our property and the garden has been forced to take a back seat. I guess it happens.

After much deliberation I decided to give another go to raising seedlings and sowed 24 cells of leaves on Wednesday.

Lately, I seem to have had a bit more success getting my seeds to germinate and start to grow but I am still losing lots. I know I overwater so I don’t water until the seedling dies of thirst!!!!

I do have an automatic watering system which provides water by syphonic action to a pot. I have about half a dozen. 2 of them are feeding 2 pumpkin seedlings which seem to be doing well. Perhaps I should use these more often.

I have successfully germinated some melon seeds which I will now put under the care of the automatic waterer.

The seeds I sowed on Wednesday are under a drawer from the vegetable rack – it is clear plastic and was ideal for keeping mice at bay. I peeked under the cover today and saw the first tiny heads peeping above the compost. I shall keep them covered for another week and hope they all come up and I can produce some strong plants

I have potted on a local tomato variety- Marmande – which is doing well. Marmande is a local town about 20 miles from here. I bought this plant from the market last week and it is already about double the size I bought.

I have also raised a couple of tomato seedlings from seeds and potted those on today. They are still very small but I think they will be ok.

I recently bought some red cabbage plants by mistake and put another 4 of those in the ground today.

I sprouted some peas and sowed the sprouted seeds on Friday to infill no shows in the pea patch.. I sprouted the peas to about 1 cm and then sowed them in the prepared bed.

I have a few french beans starting in toilet paper roll centres. I shall plant these undisturbed when they are tall enough.

I now have the following growing:

From seeds - batavia lettuce, cabbage, radish, spring onions, tomatoes, melon, pumpkin, peas, french beans, borlotto beans, dill and Broom

From tubers - potatoes

From sets - onions, garlic, wild leek

From plants - tomato, lettuce, red cabbage, flat leaf parsley, chives, strawberries

Kept from last year - mint

Still not germinated - wild chicory, lollo rosso lettuce

I also seem to have managed to save about 25 geranium plants from last year.

The first lettuce, raised in pots are just about ready to pick. I shall be eating them this next week.

Next year I'm going to learn a lot more about weeds and their uses. I can't stop them growing so I might as well harvest them!!!!



ilex said...

I'm catching up on past posts of yours- I had no idea you were blogging so much- and I think it's really fabulous. Congrats on biting the bullet and starting so much from seed.

Patrick said...

Some common pitfalls of starting plants indoors are damping off diseases and not hardening off the plants before putting them out.

Damping off is a bacterial disease, and what usually happens is the seedling grows a little bit but then quickly dies. This is a contagious disease, and the problem is usually hygiene. It's important not to use home made compost as a seed starting medium, because it contains too many microbes. You should use a sterile potting medium, usually this is something you purchase. You can also sterilize common dirt or compost by putting it in a 200C oven for about a half hour.

You should also sterilize all containers and tools by putting them in water with a small amount of household bleach added.

Be sure to clean the room carefully where you grow the plants.

For hardening off you can read about it here:

Otherwise, if you can post any more specific information about the problems you are having, perhaps with pictures, maybe someone will have more ideas.

Ian said...

ilex, thanks for your encouragement and Patrick, many thanks for your advice.

I don't think I'm suffering from damping off. I know of it but am not too sure how to identify it as a problem.

I actually think my problem is learning to identify when seedlings need watering. In the past I have heavily over-watered and the plants have died as they rotted in the damp. I'm aware of this fault and now try to control my urges to add a bit more water. I suspect I've lately controlled it so much that a few seedlings have actually died from drought.

I'm undergoing a steep learning curve and everything I learn this year will make it a little bit easier for me next year.

I also think one of my problems this year was rushing to get things outside before our weather was really warm enough.

I will post on any specific problems I have.

Thanks for your continued support.

Patrick said...

Hi Ian,

I would at least suspect you might be having some damping off problems.

When I start seeds indoors, I can usually get away with them sitting in water on the bottom of the tray for at least 2-3 days without any problems. In this way, I can typically water once a week or so. This might be different for you, because your climate may be very different.

Anytime a plant dies for any reason, there is a risk it was infected with something and it's always important not to reuse the dirt and to sterilize the container before reusing.

I would at least suggest paying more attention to hygiene, and see if that reduces some of the problems you are having.

Ian said...

Thanks again Patrick,
The dirt from used pots etc goes out ont o the compost heap where it won't get reused for about 2 years. Is that ok?
I have been washing pots etc but not using bleach so I shall give everything a good clean with a drop of bleach added to the water and see if things improve. IThe more I think about it and from what you have described, I think maybe it's damping off problems as well and I suspect that simply washing things in water is not enough so bleach it is. Thanks again.

Patrick said...

Damping off is only a problem when starting seedlings indoors, so to put the used soil in the compost to be used later in the garden is no problem.

Almost no plant diseases are killed by composting, so if you ever have any other diseased plant materials you should never put them in the compost.

Good luck!