Showing posts with label seedlings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seedlings. Show all posts

Friday, 27 September 2013

Carrot towers; an experiment in intensive growing

My little Purple Dragon carrot seedlings are growing up so fast so I thought it was time to start experimenting with ways to grow them.

We have no topsoil here at all (well a few centimeters in some places) so I have been thinking about raised beds for carrots for a while, then I came across this idea, called a flower tower and thought "Why not try it with carrots?"

As you can see, I built the frame as per instructions (see the 'flower tower' link)

Then I found a stray piece of PVC pipe and thought it would make a good water delivery system.

So out came my trusty drill

Dozens of holes were randomly drilled all over. I also plugged one end with a sink plug.

The pipe went into the middle of my frame, plugged end down.

Then I filled the lot with potting mix and compost.

I also added some PVC pipes through the bottom, sticking out about 25cm, to provide supports for the cover.

The seedlings were poked through the shade cloth into the potting mix. A job which took ages.

I planted a tomato and a love-in-a-mist in the top to provide colour and shade to the carrots (and maybe even tomatoes)

And marigolds around the base, for companion planting and for more colour.

The wire cover went over the whole lot and the seedlings watered in

Then I added an old sheet over the cover because it's a windy, hot day and the little seedlings need all the cover they can get for a few days.

The result so far is a mysterious, sheet covered mound. I have some concerns about this method;
If the carrots grow straight down, will I be able to harvest them?
Will I be able to keep the water up to them?
It is a time consuming business, putting the carrots through the shade cloth, is the yield worth the time?

I only planted 10 carrots in the tower as a trial run, but if it works there is room for 50 in just this little tower so the method certainly is space saving.

I will keep you posted on the progress of this experiment.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Seedling area update

It has been a few weeks since I received my Diggers Club order and set up the little seedling time for an update. The Diggers Club seeds have proven very fertile with most seeds germinating within days of being sown. I have developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for my planting and potting on (I just love the official sound of that; really it's just the way I do things for now).

I sow the seeds in punnets of potting mix, label them and put the date on them.

When the seeds have germinated and are big enough to handle, I pot them on individually into newspaper pots filled with compost (to give them a burst of nutrients when they need it).

How to make paper pots (although I use several layers of paper to make them last longer)

Once the seedlings have recovered from potting on, I move them to the second plant stand in the vegetable garden area to grow up enough to plant (or to wait until bed space is available).

So far this SOP is working really well and I have been able to produce lots of tomato (Black Russian), carrot (Purple Dragon), rocket (Pronto), broccoli (Purple Sprouting) and Love-in-a-mist (Blue). The beetroot (Heirloom mix) has sprouted in it's punnet, but I haven't had time to pot them on yet.
 A weekly water with fish emulsion mix cures the leaching of nitrogen from the compost by the newspaper pots that was happening to begin with.

I water the seeds in punnets with pure water every three days or so and the seedlings with the water from the chook's drinking container when I wash it out (about every two days). The vegetables in the beds are surviving on the water from the sheep trough when I change it (about every three days) and the washing and rinse water from clothes washing (once a week). This system means that I use every drop of water twice (the shower water drains to the bog garden site, which will be planted with comfrey, banana, Louisiana iris and sweet potato, but isn't yet) and I can survive for much longer on our single tank of rain water.

In other news....
I have a hen sitting on some Minorca eggs, thanks to the kindness of one of my friends (thanks Zoe) who gave me a dozen fertile eggs. I thought it was time to introduce some new blood into my flock, and fertile eggs are the best way to do it. When chickens are raised in the flock from the egg up they do not introduce new diseases and the trauma (to the chickens) of introducing new flock members is eliminated.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The seeds are here!

My package from the Diggers Club arrived. I got open pollinating seeds of;

  1.  rocket - pronto
  2. Beetroot - Chioggia, Bull's Blood , Golden and White Blankoma
  3. Broccoli - Purple Sprouting
  4. Eggplant - Rosa Bianca, Violetta di Firenze, Slim Jim and Listada di Gandia
  5. Green beans - Lazy Housewife (I wish)
  6. Carror - Purple Dragon
  7. Tomato - Tommy Toe
  8. Corn - Golden Bantam
  9. Water melon - Moon and Stars
  10. Silverbeet - Five colour mix

My new seed collection

I decided to take my daughter's advice and put the seedlings beside the back door. I didn't have to move the sick animal aviary after all because I bought one of the little plastic covered green houses suggested by Jacqui (Dusty Country Road blog) and put it in the most protected position I could find, as also suggested by Jacqui. The little green house is now full to the brim with seeds planted in punnets and newspaper pots.
The new seedling raising area. My potting table is to the left against the aviary wall and the little green house is full of enthusiasm.
Some of the seedlings in my little green house. Roma tomatoes potted on from a punnet I bought. These are bound for the school gardens I am custodian to.
In an excess of enthusiasm I also potted some herbs into an indoor herb tower which will live beside a North facing window in the kitchen and hopefully result in us having lots of parsley, chives, oregano and mint added to our meals (not all of them together, obviously).

The next challenge for me is to complete stages 3 and four of the Hugelkultur beds so I can plant out all these new seedlings. I have given myself a month to do that. Wish me luck.

I am finding that setting myself goals that have to be met by a certain time is helping me to get things done in the garden. What techniques do you use to get things done?

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Heirloom seeds on the way

I just joined the The Digger's Club and ordered my first batch of heirloom, non-hybrid, non-GMO vegetable seeds. It's very exciting for me and I am dreaming about the vegetable garden I will grow with these seeds.

Now all I have to do is build myself a seedling raising area that is rodent and chook proof, has enough light and is not in danger of getting too hot as the weather warms up and is close enough to both the humpy and the vegetable garden to be convenient for daily visits; all in the next two weeks (which is the deadline for the arrival of the seeds.

There are several candidates for a position;
Beside the front door
Advantages; I pass it all the time, it is fairly sheltered from the wind.
Disadvantages; it faces west and so gets only afternoon sun.

Behind the tap on the left of the door is a 40 cm  x 85 cm space.

Beside the back door;
Advantages; it faces east and so gets morning sun, it is sheltered from the wind and hot afternoon sun and I pass it often.
Disadvantages; I would need to move the 'sick animal' aviary to a new position (it is currently housing an out of season clutch of chickens.

The aviary on the left is where I keep sick wildlife and other animals that happen to stray into my care (the fish tanks are for snakes and lizards)

Beside the chook pen/vegetable garden gate;
Advantages; It is close to the vegetable beds, I pass it all the time, it has morning sunlight to some extent.
Disadvantages; It requires cleaning up an unruly mess (could be an advantage also), it faces west and is exposed to the east also, it is exposed to the wind.

It looks even more of a mess in photos. I think I'd better clean this up no matter where I put the seedlings.

I would like to hear some opinions about where I should put my new seedling area and some suggestions for making it rodent and chook proof. Feel free to comment.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Imbolc already and spring is here

It's that time of year again; the snow drops are flowering, so is the hardenbergia in the bush. The chooks are laying and looking for nest sites. All my seedlings are coming up and I have an urge to plant more than we could possibly eat; it must be spring.
At the start of spring we hold the festival of Imbolc; it is held when the first snow drops flower and celebrates the return of life and heat to the land. We also have a bonfire, an outdoor meal and lots of mead.
snow drops...or snow flakes; I can never remember which is which and they flower at the same time.

Seedlings in newspaper pots starting to emerge.

Hardenbergia in the bush

Our Imbolc altar

The bonfire

The alter after dark