Seedlings and Spuds

My lovely seedlings … four varieties have germinated and are skyward bound. The zinnias were first through … love it when they poke their heads through the soil – some of them look like they have dirt hats on. Marigolds, lettuce and shasta daisy are also up.

They are up ….

So today it was time to ‘prick’ out some of these seedlings before they get too big. I learnt a lesson a few years ago when our garage resembled a nursery – I couldn’t understand why my seedlings had such spindly growth… they had been pricked out and poked in homemade potting mix, complete with Rok solid and a dusting of lime. They were on a heat pad and watered regularly, including a spray with some seaweed fertiliser.

So what was I missing? Well? Answer … lack of sunlight. Simple. The seedlings love sunlight and obviously it is sunlight that makes them grow (photosynthesis). Remember, if you want to start growing your own seedlings, then make sure that they get ample sunlight – windowsill is great if you have one spare!
I pricked out today about 12 zinnias, same of marigold and poked them into some potting mix. I also popped some seeds in from the cucurbit family all heirloom – Crown & triamble pumpkins, zucchini (Black beauty) and cucumbers (Crystal apple, Marketmore and Long white wonder). Oops and eggplant (Florence round purple)… although not from this family of course – no eggplant is in the same family as tomatoes and potatoes … mentioning the latter they are up next!
I started to chit my spuds a few weeks back – which is a process of dipping them in fish fert, popping them in a window and hopefully, getting those sprouts underway. They were slow to start … although the Rocket was starting to look good. The Pink fir and the Kowinini were showing no sprouts … ok a couple. But sometimes you just have to get things in the ground …  gardening is all about experimenting and learning by mistakes.
With this in mind, everyone needs an Andrew. He is brilliant in the garden, iPhone playing podcasts on, earmuffs on (check – check). Good news is, he can’t hear a thing I’m saying, therefore he is super happy!
This was the garden ….
Within no time, he has levelled everything in the garden (weeds and stuff that needs to be removed) using his rather large weed eater (strimmer). Next up, he is on the end of our broadfork … I must get a pic of it for those that have no idea what I’m talking about …
What the broadfork does quite simply is this … you plunge it into the soil, stand on the top bar, hold on to the uprights and using your weight, lean back. The fork then lifts the soil. It has multiple benefits:  helps to dislodge weeds, makes the garden more friable and it also aerates the soil which may be compacted after the winter rains. Our soil here wasn’t too bad, although interestingly enough not loads of worms. The downside to using a broadfork is that obviously you disturb the soil and its residents, microorganisms, worms etc that live within. The action of the broadfork is literally like turning their homes upside down – not the most joyous thought in the world, I must say! My style of gardening is usually to ‘grow the soil’ –  by layering organic material on the soil and ideally leave it alone to do what it does best – compost down. However the soil in this bed does need some ‘loosening’ and while it is rich in organic matter it needs some aerating also.
Now I have only just mentioned compacting soil so I really shouldn’t be back in the garden on my hands and knees hoisting out weeds – namely onion weed and wandering buttercup – but this bed is large and sadly doesn’t have a walkway. Hmm.
Comfrey and spuds … great combo


So Andrew dug some trenches,  I lined them with comfrey (I had gone out and cut some leaves from my plants in the orchard .. hated doing it, hence very light). Comfrey is heavenly stuff, high in nitrogen and potassium and also has phosphorus too, something that root vege love! So into the trenches went the comfrey, spuds on top and then a good covering of soil. Next, Rok Solid powder (basalt rock, minerals, seed weed and fish fert …) a good hose  and lastly I poured round a solution of Mycorrcin 5ml / litre – I used about 25 litres in a watering can. This solution is great at soil conditioning, activates mycorrhizal fungi, improves soil structure and remedies compaction! Brilliant …
Oh if you are interested – the Rocket are an ‘early’ spud and should be ready in 60 – 90 days … the lack of sunlight on this bed will probably see them ready in more like 120 days,  just in time for Christmas! Happy gardening ….

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