Sunday, 31 January 2016

Germinating seeds

Although they don't look like much at the moment, a lot of my seeds have germinated.  As I only have cold greenhouses at the moment and no propagator, I have to germinate seeds this time of year on the windowsills.

I have already transplanted the Alicante and Black Russian tomatoes into three inch pots.  I have put them into the cold greenhouse and into the plastic upright mini greenhouse that lives at the back.  The temperature in this mini greenhouse has not fallen below five degrees centigrade all winter.  If we don't get any very severe long lasting frost then I think that the tomatoes will survive until they are transplanted into their permanent pots.

Small plastic mini greenhouse in my 6X8foot greenhouse. I had been transplanting sweet peas.

I have a lot more sweet  peas transplanted now and I have had to move them around to fit everything in.  I will put some of the sweet peas into the little peach greenhouse because they will be fine in there.  Sweet peas are fairly hardy plants and given a little protection can survive temperatures below zero Celsius for a short time.
Most of the pumpkins and squashes have gone now either eaten or gone rotten.  They don't last forever but this year I still have the green crate full of them.  I washed down most of the glass this week so that all the seedlings get as much light as possible.

This time of the year the greenhouse gets very full and it is difficult to get everything in.  However, it is emptied at least four or five times as I plant into the allotment soil or put seedlings into the small greenhouse or cold frame to harden off.

On the left you can see my tray of small tools, for transplanting and writing labels, hanging from the greenhouse roof.  I like to label everything with the name of the plant and when it was sown.  I put everything into this hanging pot holder so that it is convenient;  all my small tools are to hand and I don't loose any. 

I like to keep the greenhouse as tidy as I can to avoid pests and diseases so all surfaces are swept as soon as I have finished jobs.  Hence the hand brush.  I had just used the knife to trim the leeks before taking them home.  The knife does not live in the greenhouse.  It lives in the shed locked away securely. 

All the sweet peas were taken out of the greenhouse for watering this week and I took the opportunity to wash down the big black trays.  I removed  two slugs while doing this.

Once all the seedlings have been planted out the greenhouse will be given over to tomatoes.  I will put six along the left hand side.  On the staging I will put the melons and cucumbers and grow them up strings attached to wires.  I did this last year and got some really good fruit off them.

I need six tomato plants for the big greenhouse and six for the small greenhouse.  I think that I transplanted twenty six Alicante and about ten Black Russian.  I may well have over done the seed sowing a little but you can't have too much of a good thing and you get so much good will when you give away your extras.

I have put the first sowings of onions and leeks in the mini greenhouse as well.  I haven't transplanted them into sectioned trays yet because I don't have any multipurpose compost left.  I will get some next week. 

The second sowings of onions and leeks have all germinated now and I will be transferring them to the cold greenhouse this week.

My two Crystal tomato plants are growing away well and will have to be transplanted into three inch pots soon.  I hope that all this effort is worth while.

As for the exotics; I have cucumber, aubergine and sweet peppers germinated and just pushing through.  The Blenheim melons have not germinated yet. Overall I am very pleased.  Just wait until I get my super duper propagator with overhead lights.  The only disappointment is that it doesn't have bells and whistles.

I had a propagator when I was much younger and grew all kinds of exotic seeds.  Looking forward to doing that again.

 I checked the seeds in the greenhouse and they were fine.  The minimum  temperature in the main greenhouse was 5 degrees Celsius and for the majority of the time I was at the allotment it was 15 degrees Celsius and a few degrees warmer in the plastic greenhouse.

I turned all the compost bins again but they do not seem to be decomposing as quickly as they were in the autumn.  I want the compost for the potato bed but it can be put on the top rather than dug into the top soil. 

The soil is very wet still and it is raining quite regularly every few days.  I wanted to plant  some onion sets in the new onion bed but this would just compact the soil as I walked over it.  My next door allotmenteer, Sue, said that I could use some of her boards and these would help to distribute my weight and prevent this compaction.  Four rows of sets were duly planted.  Probably more rows than I really wanted and I still have a lot of sets left over.  I am going to keep these left overs to replace any that do not grow. 

The sets were Stuttgarter and Sturon and were freebies.  I am going to give away any I have left over. 

Even though the soil was quite wet it was workable.   The sets will be able to deal with the dampness because the allotment soil is so well drained now.  The only reason it is not drying out a little more is the incessant rain.

Went down to look at the greenhouse that someone said I could have.  I cannot put any more greenhouses on my allotments because I have one on both of them.   So I offered it to Sue and she is going to have it.  A lot of the glass has been broken but there is enough to be going on with and she can get replacement glass or polycarbonate sheets to fill where the gaps are. 

So, although it is the end of January and usually the coldest and most inhospitable part of the winter, I feel that the new season has begun and life is beginning to stir.  I have snowdrops flowering under the hedge and specie daffodils flowering.  

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