Chilling Out

It’s very close to that time of year when my home gets invaded with seed growing equipment. My windowsill propagator has been invaluable and gets my tomato seeds off to a good start. Although it is heated, I have found that sitting in a south facing window is sufficient so their heating goes off after I see there is good germination and they start to show their first true leaves. They may need heat to start them off but apparently the cold makes them sweeter. My neighbour’s tomatoes are brought on with heat lamps and are usually double the size of my plants by May/June but mine do catch up. I have been very fortunate in growing tomatoes and had reasonable results when some of our local experts had none at all.

I don’t usually start off the tomato seeds until February but I have some seeds which need colder sowing and being very short of space I have decided to try winter sowing for some of the vegetables. My greenhouse is still a disaster area as the milder autumn and winter has meant not all the summer plants died down and were put in the greenhouse for some protection. In the meantime I have sown seeds such as Komatsuna, Salsola, poppies etc. in plastic containers. This is the first time I have tried this method but it is ideal for anyone who doesn’t have a greenhouse to start seeds off in.

cold-start

I found the five litre bottles the easiest to deal with and probably are better because they are clear, although you can use quite a variety of containers you would normally throw out. I use a metal skewer heated over a gas ring to put drainage holes in the bottom of the bottles. There are no caps put on the bottles so ventilation holes on the top are not necessary, only the smaller container had air holes in it. The bottles are cut about halfway down, leaving a small section attached as the hinge. Damp, good quality compost is used and labels inside and out are added. Some marker pens fade in daylight, but having just bought a labeller, I hope that problem will be solved. Once seeds are sown and watered the bottle is sealed up again with duct tape and it will be unlikely it will be opened until later in the spring when the seedlings should be ready to pot on. I have more seeds to sow this way but I am waiting for other five litre water bottles which I’m getting from friends. My other experiment is using coir as a growing medium. It’s easier to store and one small block which fits in my handbag, reconstitutes to 10 litres when water is added. Even if I decide I don’t like it to grow anything in, it wouldn’t be wasted as it can be used as bedding in the wormery.

Why not visit my other blog  Grannysattic

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