7 September 2022

The changeable season of Spring is on us! 

Safely away from warm sun one day and chilly heavy rain the next, our tomato seedlings have all germinated well. Once they have their first pair of true leaves – these are the first set of leaves that resemble the leaves of the parent plant and they follow the seed leaves – it’s time to prick the seedlings out.  That means moving them on to individual pots.

Firstly we prepare our pots by washing them in white vinegar to sterilise them. 

Next we mix some of our well-balanced fertiliser in with potting mix to fill the pots with.  The plants now require a bit more food to grow on strongly.  They’ll be in these pots for almost 2 months.

Next step is to make holes in the enriched potting mix in each pot with a dibber or something similar.

Then with a knife we cut down the rows of seedlings and gently prise each seedling out, trying to keep as much of the root on the seedling as possible.  It helps if the seedling tray is a bit dry at this point. 

Hold the seedling by the leaf as this is the strongest point.  Using your dibber gently backfill the hole to plant your seedling.

We soak our pots in a tub of water to which liquid seaweed has been added.  Seaweed helps prevent damping off or rotting.

Then onto a tray and the windowsill.

Lettuces have a much quicker turnaround than tomatoes, which is why I’ve become a fan of the newspaper pot.  Here’s how we make it.

Then follow the instructions as above for pricking out.  This way you can plant the whole seedling, pot and all, in the ground.  As lettuces grow more quickly, I was finding they sometimes hadn’t developed a good enough root system and would collapse on planting out, which really knocked them back.  This way that doesn’t happen.

You may have noticed above that there was a no-show in the Cos lettuce lane.  So I bought new seeds and within a week they’re up, and here they are – only a fraction behind these ones that they should have started life with.

Our flowers have all grown at different rates.  The sunflowers bolted and are planted.  A couple snapped when I was staking them, so I have some more on the go.

The alyssum germinated quickly too.  I’ve just planted these out round our fruit trees, and made a little barrier for the lawnmower guy (hubby!).  I know this is pretty flimsy – I’m sure you’ll come up with something better!  I took the opportunity to apply our Natures Organic Fertiliser round the apple and plum as I was planting the alyssum.  Spring is the time to fertilise deciduous fruit trees.  And I used some of our new wood chips to finish off.

The swan plants are only just germinating now (one no show).

Finally, our zucchini and cucumber seeds were quick to germinate and are growing nicely.

More to come soon…


From Jan and Rob 😊

6 Responses

  1. I sowed a cucumber seed early on in winter and it germinated well inside the greenhouse. It grew as tall as 50cm but one day it just turned brown and died; so now I had to sow another lot. Any suggestion as to what happened pls? This is the first time I grow cucumber.

    1. Hi Janet Cucumbers don’t do well in temperatures lower than 10-15°C, so we’re thinking it’s probably cold that caused your plant to die.

  2. Hi, very timely post. I propagated my tomato , cucumber and zucchini in a heated Egmont Seeds propagator and they came up within a few days. I pricked them out early as the cucumber was getting too tall. They are now in individual pots same size as the ones in your photo. How long do I leave them inside before I start hardening off, and how long before they can go outside all the time, and then ideal time for planting outside in final position? My husband is not happy with the windowsills being covered by what he says is unsightly plants 🪴 best Katrina

    1. Hi Katrina Your comment about your husband made me laugh out loud. How many of us experience this! By the sound of things your plants are quite advanced. We advocate putting tomatoes in late-ish (usually around Labour Day), just because then it’s warm and they go ahead in leaps and bounds. We also think planting them in the First Quarter moon phase starts them off well. This year the closest First Quarter to Labour Day doesn’t start till 1 November. BUT, if you have a sheltered spot that’s warm (and you say you do) then you can start them earlier. So how about aiming to plant the tomatoes out in the next First Quarter (which starts on 3 October)? Then you would harden them off a couple of weeks beforehand (so in a week or so’s time). The key thing is that they have a good strong root structure. Zucchinis are hardy, so you can plant out when you think the plant is big enough (harden off at least a week before planting though). Cucumbers are more temperature sensitive. They really don’t do well if the night temperature goes below 10-15°C. If you need to plant your cucumber, maybe make a kind of cloche for now. All the best 😊

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