Garden update Monday 25th March

Mad March continues – seeds and seedlings abound!

Well March has certainly thrown some winds at us, but finally calm has settled and although it’s not warm, it’s pleasant enough to get into the garden when time allows.

So, seeds have germinated, and seedlings babies are becoming toddlers. In other words it’s potting on time!

L:R sweet peas, shallots and pak choi
Left to right: sweet peas, shallots and pak choi

The sweet peas are doing brilliantly and have now had the top growth nipped out. This should encourage side shoots and nice bushy plants. The shallots are plodding on nicely and can be planted out soon. I noticed that the pak choi looked a little pale. Thinking that this may be because they are running out of nutrients so I decided to pot them on into their own individual cells or pots.

Pak choi (left) and lettuce (right)
Pak choi (left) and lettuce (right)

I potted some of the pak choi into individual pots. I unrolled the tubes and carefully separated the roots first, throwing the used tubes into the compost, no waste!

I filled pots and a tray with multi purpose compost and a little perlite to keep them free draining, made a hole in the middle of each pot/cell, and gently placed the roots in. Pak choi are a member of the brassica family (cabbage, broccoli etc) and like to be well firmed in. You can plant them a little deeper, and compact the soil around them with your fingertips. Add a little more soil to the top if they seem a bit low, and gently firm again.

What about other seedlings?

Pretty much all seedlings can be transplanted in the same way, and keeping the pak choi company are tiny little lettuces.

Annoyingly, I often get “leggy” tomato seedlings due to not having any south facing windows, so they grow upwards quickly in search of light.

Potting tomatoes on is just as easy however. Prick out the seedlings from the container they are in. You can use a teaspoon or plant label to gently tease them out. Plant them deeper than they were originally, up to the first set of leaves, and roots will grow out of the stem that is under compost. Remember, always handle seedlings by their leaves and not the stems. It feels like I am picking them up by their ears! The leaves can handle being touched. The stems, at this stage, cannot.

Also, the first of the sunflowers have been potted on, yippee!!

Sunflower seedlings potted on
Sunflower seedlings potted on

What else is happening?

Bedding plants
Bedding plants been sown

I have also sown some bedding plant seeds in this 72 cell tray. 12 each of lobelia mixed, lobelia lilac and lobelia monsoon (dark purple/blue), ageratum and petunias. Good old favourites! This is the first time I have grown any of these from seed, so will keep you posted on their progress.

All the fruit bushes now have green shoots, and the rhubarb is doing brilliantly since I repotted it and fed it with some organic chicken manure pellets.

Mad March is marvellous!

What is giving you joy this month?

Garden update Monday 4th March

We’ve certainly had a bit of everything weather wise in the last week! From almost summer-like temperatures to lashing rain and wind! Meteorologically, 1st March was the first day of spring, however if you follow the equinox phases then you will have to wait until 21st March to call it spring. Whatever you call it, we are entering one of the busiest times of years for gardeners.

What’s growing indoors?

Nonetheless, things are growing. Chits are chitting, nature is just getting on with it.

Chitting potaties
Chitting potatoes var. Vivaldi

The first tomatoes to germinate were, once again, Orange Paruche. They made an appearance after just five days! Out of all the tomatoes I have grown these have always been the first and most reliable to germinate.

Tomato seedlings
Tomato seedlings var. Orange Paruche (left) and Gardeners Delight (right)

I invested in a propagator a couple of years ago, hopefully it will last for years and years. Mine is a fair size, similar to an A3 sheet of paper, but you can get small ones very inexpensively on Amazon. Here is mine.

Another very useful item is a light box. This is basically a cardboard box lined with tin foil, which helps to reflect light back onto your seedlings. I also invested in a grow light. This is a light that emits frequencies that plants respond to, which is red and blue wavelengths. They can also be called full spectrum lights. Again, you can source these quite inexpensively, like these.

On a budget?

If you cannot stretch to a propagator or grow light you can still grow successfully without them. A sunny windowsill is perfect. Using your light box to reflect light onto the seedlings by placing it behind them will throw a bit more light back onto them. This will help stop them from leaning towards into the natural light. Turning the seedlings around periodically will also help this.

Another method is to place a piece of plain white paper behind your seedlings to reflect light. I have a project to show you soon, on how to make paper light boxes.

What’s growing outside?

The onions and garlic are still growing well. I can see the stems on the garlic are thickening, to about the size of a pencil. They still have three or four months to grow so I am hopeful for my best crop ever.

In the greenhouse, sweet peas and pak choi are doing very well. The pak choi will be pricked out (put into their own individual pots to grow on) any time now. All of them have thrown down roots to the bottom of the cardboard tubes which is very encouraging.

Pak Choi seedlings
Pak Choi seedlings
Sweet pea seedlings
Sweet pea seedlings

What else am I doing?

This month I will be sowing a huge amount of seeds, both vegetables and flowers. Indoors and in the greenhouse, and also direct. Lots of preparations have been made, with more to do. The cold frame has been taken out of its winter home in the greenhouse and placed on the plot. The fruit bushes have been pruned and mulched. The rhubarb has been repotted into a bigger pot and fed with chicken manure pellets. My instagram feed shows you more of the day to day stuff I am up to. Be sure to follow me for more!

Next…to pot on the tomato seedlings, for the second stage of their development.

What are your plans for mad March?