Friday, April 24, 2009

How Green Does My Garden Grow?

I think I am a pretty "green" gardener after all these years. The two store bought insecticides I use are Insectigone and a Neem Oil spray and these are for problem pests like lily beetles and sawfly larvae ( I also hand pick the bugs but they just don't get the hint!). For slugs and snails I use coffee.
Today was the day to pot up mt tomato seedlings. I had started the seeds in a repurposed container. You know those plastic case jobbies that a rotisserie chicken comes in from the supermarket? The ones with a black bottom and clear top? AWESOME for starting small amounts of seeds! Fill with appropriate potting mix, plant the packet of seeds (or less) water and pop that cover on...VOILA miniature greenhouse conditions and no extra cash out of pocket. As soon as you have sprouts you remove the top. Turn your greenhouse and its contents as often as possible so they don't get too leggy.
So, there are my lovely seedlings at about 3 inches tall or less and they are getting nice true leaves so its time to pot. I took a demi sized wine bottle, some tabloid sized newspaper (hello Journal De Montreal), some tape, and I was ready. I folded my newspaper sheets in half across the width then wrapped them around the bottle, pulled the bottle up a bit by the neck so that I had paper at the bottom to fold over generously, folded said bottom, taped it, and taped the side seam. BOOM there it is. A soda can sized pot . Filled with moistened potting mix, it was ready for planting. In each pottling's soil, I used a chopstick and bored a hole down the center to make the planting hole. It needs to be as deep as your seedling's stems are long from root ball to leaves and wide enough to pop that delicate baby in there without trauma. Now to harvest the strongest seedlings in the flat: I looked the plants over and started selecting the ones that looked the farthest along and strongest. Look for sturdy stems and well developed true leaves. Gently grasping each selection by a seed leaf, I then prised it out of its shallow soils bed with the chopstick, being very careful not to hurt the roots or stem. Then the seedling is guided into its new planting hole with the chopstick while I still gently hold that seed leaf. Burying the stem up to the leaves give the seeedling a chance to make more roots along the stem and thus have a larger feeding network and this will make it stronger. I gently squeezed each pot to tamp the soil around the roots and stem and tamped the top of the soils around the stem as well. Using this method I now have 16 little seedlings on the window sill. I only need 4 for this years garden plans and I have some friends that will take a few more off my hands. If the seedlings get to tall again before its time to plant them out in the beds I will repot them using this same pot type only in a larger form.
Now that my rotisserie green house is empty I planted peppers, which were a gift from a friend otherwise I would have started them sooner. For the peppers I made smaller newpaper pots and planted the seed directly into the soil in them. I put the wee pots into the contatiner and will continue as before. If more than one seed germinates in the mini pots I will pinch off the weakest seedlings leaving the strongest to grow. Nature ain't always pretty, as I always say. Sometimes things have to be disposed of and planting more seeds than plants required is the only sure way to get the number of plants you need since not all seedlings are up to snuff and not all seeds grow.

There are lots of websites and books with green gardening informations like how to make your own pots. Its not always easy to see that you don't need to spend on garden gadgets like window sill green house kits and plastic or peat pots etc. Invest that cash instead into good quality seed and soil.

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