Sorting out Spring Seedlings

As I sit and stare out the window at my newly organised seedling trolley, I smile knowing that I’ve finally got my act together in the Spring seedling department.

The little seedling trolley that our friend Andy made, is very close to the kitchen and can be seen sitting along the narrow deck on the other side of the glass wall of the lounge room. It’s a warm protected spot but the main advantage is being within sight of the kitchen and therefore a constant reminder that cannot be forgotten.  Well that’s the theory anyway.

It was only the other week that the trolley was in a complete state of chaos, cluttered with junk that’s been accumulating over the months. I’ve been looking at it, thinking about it, talking about it and finally with great relief to all, particularly me, I have finally done something about it!

Up to this point, growing seedlings has been my biggest challenge in the garden. I’ve had all sorts of failures and raised some very poor excuses for seedlings indeed. I’ve had seeds that wouldn’t germinate, soil not right, too dry, too wet, too many of some varieties and not enough of others, I’ve tried paper pots, toilet rolls, jiffy pots all hopeless and the worst crime of all…forgetting to water any pots at all!!!  Anyway, I’ve decided I’m going to put that all behind me and move forward and now that I’ve attended the Serious Vegies course with Milkwood Permaculture, I have absolutely no excuses.

The first thing I decided to do was to sort out the trolley. It was covered in junk as it had somehow become the temporary storage area for everything other than seedlings. I’ve somehow managed to accumulate a serious number of plastic pots in every dimension and configuration known to man including 6 starter trays each for 50 seedlings that were leftover from a tree planting day I’d organised. I’m not sure what I was thinking but perhaps I harboured some secret ambition to supply the entire neighbourhood with seedlings for a year but whatever it was I’ve decided that I’ll keep a couple of them because they are actually really good. At the base of each pod is a hole for your finger which helps ease out the seedling without disturbing the root. And as seeds grow at varying rates, you can remove a single plant without disturbing the neighbouring seedling.

I’ve started my seedlings in seed raising mix but I’ll grow the next lot straight into a special no-fail recipe potting mix. This will eliminate the step of transplanting them into yet another pot and they can be planted directly into the garden beds when the seedlings are strong enough. I figure the least number of times I move the seedlings the better the chances of survival and will save on potential root shock or plant damage.

When the seedlings get their first true leaves, I’ll be culling out the weaker plants keeping only the strongest seedlings which will have a better chance of growing into stronger, healthier and more productive plants. Down the track, hopefully as I get better at saving seeds too, I’ll be keeping seed from the most desirable, most pest resistant, and most productive plants that will have adapted to the microclimates of my garden. Because we simply don’t have the room I won’t be able to plant all of the seedlings that I grow so thanks to my friend Tanya for the idea, I’ll be putting any surplus seedlings out the front of the house for neighbours and passers-by to take for free 🙂

After finding a pair of just-about-brand-new wheels from a billy cart in the last Council clean up, Luke attached them to one set of legs for me making it easy to move it a few metres forward into the sunlight if needed.

A week on and things are looking promising. We’re keeping up with watering and quite a few of the seeds have now germinated. Next to mine is a tray of really healthy seedlings from Tanya which I’m keeping close by as an aspiration. Hopefully it won’t be long before mine will look just like that and be ready to plant in the garden too.

Today we’re heading off to the Bushland Shire Spring Fair at Fagan Park in Galston and our two chooks Dusta and Pipsqueak will be scratching their way to stardom as demo chooks in the Eco Garden. I look forward to telling you all about that in my next post.

2 responses to “Sorting out Spring Seedlings

  1. Welcome to the Propagators’ Club! I fixed the problem of not watering the seedlings by keeping a soft drink bottle (or bottles) full of water under the propagation table. I attached to each bottle a plastic screw-on watering rose which allows me to water the seedling trays with a very gentle spray of water without flushing out seeds or damaging young roots.

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