Plants Update

This must be getting a bit boring, but I started so I’ll finish.

Readers may recall that I was bemoaning the fact that I have been having great difficulties in germinating my seeds this year, and keeping them alive. Sometimes, ‘reason’ lets us down. It is ‘reasonable’ to assume that, if it is easy to germinate and maintain seeds and seedlings in January, then it will be even easier in March. So it ought to be, but not necessarily.

When I germinated in January, the seeds were in an unheated, small propagator with 40 individual cells. I put compost in the cells and warmed it with hot water. After it had cooled, I sprinkled seeds in each cell. I then put the propagator on a shelf in the kitchen which is over a radiator. They started to germinate after about five days. Thereafter, as more seeds germinated, it was a simple matter to thin them out to about 2 seedlings per cell (making 80 seedlings in all). Of course, one did not need so many, so it was a matter of transplanting the strongest ones into 2″ pots and, eventually, discarding the surplus.

My practice was to put the pots on trays on the window ledge of the South-facing spare bedroom which, again, was over a radiator. So the seedlings got the benefit of whatever sunshine there was plus the warm airflow from the radiator. Being January, the CH was switched on all day, controlled by the thermostat downstairs, therefore the radiator would be on most of the time. The combination of sunshine and radiator warm airflow was as perfect as could be expected and worked perfectly well.

This year, my March sowing has been very problematical. Several attempts to germinate the seeds failed, but I succeeded eventually. More of that in a while.

I decided a few days ago to try an experiment. I put general purpose compost in the bottom of some 2″ pots and topped them up with seeding compost. (Remember that I have not previously had problems with using general purpose compost alone) The compost has been in the garage and therefore was cold, so I warmed it up with hot water. After it had drained, I put the pots in plastic boxes inside the heated propagator and left them in there overnight. The next day (which was Thursday of this last week), I sprinkled seeds on the surface of the pots and wet them with barely warm water. I then covered the boxes with clingfilm and replaced them in the heated propagator.

I am delighted to say that, even after only three days, the seeds are germinating. Here are some pics:

2015-05-29 01.16.19

That is of the plastic box covered with clingfilm.

2015-05-31 23.45.11

That is a pic of one pot with the clingfilm removed. Very poor though the resolution and light might be, the white-ish dots are germinating seeds. It is the same in the other pots.

So, after only three days, we have germination.

I would not have made such a fuss of this had it not been for the appearance that germinating the seeds is a hit and miss affair. I felt the need to ‘widen the window of opportunity’.

So, without going into detail, it seems to me that I expected too much from delaying sowing until March. The compost still needs to be kept warm, one way or another, and it is wise to moisten the seeds with slightly warm water before covering the container.

Because the seeds have been sown directly into the pots, there is no need to to transplant the seedlings. They need only to be thinned out to one per pot. (NB. That is another lesson and a point worth considering. My heated propagator will take 20 pots. I could stagger the germination over, say, 30 days and have three groups of seedlings which are ready to plant out at different times. That should also spread the harvest. Worth thinking about)

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So there we are. All is not lost.

I have been preparing part of plot 1 today – just weeding and loosening the soil. I have 23 plant ready to go outside:

2015-05-31 23.43.29

The weather forecast for the next week is still pretty cool, but what the hell. They have to go out sometime. I’ve been hardening them off for a couple of days now. Tomorrow, Monday, is expected to be rainy, but Tuesday should be OK.

One thing is certain – next year, I’ll be reclaiming my South-facing window ledge. Daughter 2 will have to accommodate my demands for a month or two!

 

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2 Responses to “Plants Update”

  1. Chris Rendall Says:

    Now, when you have grown , picked, cured and then shredded your wonderful tobacco, you can then make some perfect cigarettes. Its a cigarette making machine that I brought on a trip to Bruge and Ostend. Here is the video…….. be surprised, be very surprised! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0nOCZORnvg

    • junican Says:

      Good machine! Can I say – would it not be easy to turn the machine upside down and slide the tobacco box in position without using the cardboard?
      I use an electric ‘Zorr’ machine myself.

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