Sunday, 30 January 2011

The fight against dying seedlings continues..

So this week, the seedlings that I had lovingly sprinkled cinnamon on were doing ok, but the soil was developing a whitish hue.. More internet research required, and the opinions were that sprinkling vermiculite on top of the soil would help (why I'm not sure of the science of) but regular fans of the Gardening on the Move blog (!) will remember that I have more vermiculite than you can shake a stick at, having ordered wholesale, so I've tried that. They also were saying that a lack of air movement can also contribute to fungus forming, so I've bought a small fan and a timer to give the seedlings some breeze.
As well as all this, I've spent a good amount of time chopping at my compost heap with a spade to encourage it to break down, and of course turning it over to get some air into it..
I've also laid out my potatoes so that they will start chitting - I've bought some sacks to plant them in - and have bought Epicure, Charlotte and Rooster potatoes. I love roosters bought from the shop for making roasties, so am hoping these home-grown ones will be just as yummy.
You can also see the state that the frost-resistant pots have ended up in - so we went and exchanged them for nice new wooden ones. Except we can't get the heather out of the current pots because the soil is frozen solid..
Lastly, I have ordered 3ft x 3ft raised beds today - just need to set about turning them into square foot gardens before the outdoor planting season starts. (NB - there are varying views from hubby and Daddy as to whether these should have bases, or be on stilts or what.. Watch this space to see who wins!)
Compost progress:

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Cinnamon on seedlings

As we creep towards gardening weather that I know I prefer (light in the evenings and sunny in the day), most of my energies are on tending to the seedlings I'm trying to grow. 
Flowers include Lemon Eucalyptus, Chaenorhinum, Polyanthus, Scabious Japonica, and Red Hot Pokers. 
I've found I'm doing OK with getting the seeds to germinate now, using quarter size seed trays and heated propagators. I'm removing the lids once the leaves unfurl, and that is keeping them healthy. My challenge now is getting them to survive once I transplant the seedlings into little pots. I think I've not been precise enough about what I'm doing, so I've now bought special seedling compost, and am going to water them less. I also think that I transplanted some seedlings too early (too small) and others too late (too leggy). I read on the web that sprinkling cinnamon on the soil will help to prevent damping off disease (which I think might have been the cause of some of the seedling deaths), so I'm giving that a go too. Let's see how things progress.

The photos above show broccoli seedlings I transplanted today, shoots coming through on the Dicentra spectabilis that withered away over the Autumn & winter, snowdrops making a show, shoots on the honeysuckle, the greenhouse I've made out of plastic sheeting and cheap hosepipe, red hot poker seedlings, my new bird feeder, "frost resistant" pots (going back to the garden centre next weekend!), and buds on the rose bush.

I've turned over the compost heap again today, and although it's going mushy and brown it's not compost yet. The heap needs to get bigger in order for it to get hot inside. The worms seem to be liking though! I wonder if the removal men will have a compost heap moving strategy?

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Thawing out and loving seedlings

Due to popular demand the gardening blog is back.. Snow and minus temperatures revealed that I'm a fair weather gardener. My feet turned blue in wellies in November.
So now that the snow has melted and the weather has warmed up a little bit, I've ventured back outdoors to see what damage the frost did to my plants and the cuttings I took in the Autumn. Unfortunately the frost saw off the osteopurmum cuttings, and also took it's toll on one of my "frost-resistant" pots, but other than that there are buds forming and snowdrop shoots showing themselves.
 I've started off some flower seedlings over the last couple of weeks, in an attempts to have pots and pots of colour over the summer - I'm learning not to over water, not to transplant into cold soil, and to uncover the propagator as soon as the first leaves unfurl.
The first veg seeds (broccoli) have gone into some vermiculite, and I'm reviewing the list of supplies I'm going to need for the Square Foot Garden this year..