March 2020 NH newsletter

We started the month off with brilliant sunshine, but back to the rainy days ever since! I’ve been waiting for a dry-ish day to transplant our seedlings, but in the end I had to bite the bullet and brave a showery day. Much envy of people with a greenhouse – one day!

But before we start the transplanting, I sow some leafy greens. I’m putting in Cos lettuce, some large-leafed rocket and silverbeet. I’m super careful just to put 3 Cos seeds in because I want to sow every 2 weeks so as to have just the right amount of lettuce for our family, in other words, not too much. Let’s see how that plan goes. I’ve decided on Silverbeet over Perpetual Spinach because I just loved the Hunza Pie I made this week – loving the chunkiness of Silverbeet over Spinach at the moment. For a more detailed description of how to sow seeds, see 11 August blog post.

Also sowed some herbs – Oregano (they have to be the tiniest seeds on the planet), Parsley (Italian every time for me) and Basil (sowed quite a bit of this as it’s the perfect companion plant for tomatoes and you can always make pesto).


Potatoes getting their seaweed soak at the same time as I give the new seed trays a seaweed soak from the bottom up.

My seedlings are possibly a bit leggy, especially the Florence fennel (in behind), but I think they’ll become nice and strong once they’re in their own pots.


Lesson learned: ‘Black Cherry’ tomato is extremely slow to germinate compared to the other tomatoes, and eggplant and capsicums are too. Next time I won’t put ‘Moneymaker’ tomato in with them, as it was the first to germinate!

Firstly, I wash out the pots I’m going to transplant the seedlings into – they’re ones I’ve bought plants in before that I’ve kept. A good dash of vinegar in the water bath will sterilise the pots.


Next I mix up my potting mix. This time no sieving (as we did for the seed-raising mix). This is a 20L bag of potting mix and to that I’m adding ½ cup of rock dust (Natures Organic Fertiliser) to encourage good root development (as we did for the seeds) and now we also add ½ cup of blood and bone to encourage leaf growth as well (we didn’t want to encourage leaf growth during the germination period).


These little six packs are fine for the Florence fennel as they don’t need to grow as large as the tomatoes. Once you’ve firmed enough potting mix into the container, use a dibber to make holes (nice and deep) for the new plants.


It’s best to have your seedlings as dry as possible for this job to make it easier for the soil to fall away from the seedlings without damaging the roots. Using a knife, cut a slice of the seedlings and gently ease them out of the tray. Remove excess soil from the roots, then holding the seedling by the leaf or upper part, carefully place them into the holes and with your dibber, cover over the hole.


We do the same with the bigger pots for the tomatoes. I’m going to leave the ‘Black Cherry’ and capsicums and eggplants till they get a bit bigger.


Now, where to keep the little darlings? At the moment they’re in a sheltered part of the patio, but I couldn’t bear the slugs and snails to get them at night, so they might need to come inside during the night – let’s see how long I can keep that up!


Other jobs to be getting on with:

This coming week is a good time to plant Day Neutral strawberries like Seascape and Temptation. Day Neutral strawberries fruit all summer long. Day Short strawberries like Camarosa, Tioga and Pajaro are planted at the end of winter and fruit in spring and early summer and may have a bit of a flush again in autumn.


Also this coming week is a great time to get in a crop of peas!


Happy Spring Gardening!

From Jan, Rob and the Team at OEG!