Saturday, 16 January 2016

Sowing Seeds

I know that it is early and keeping seedlings alive and growing healthily at this time of the year is difficult but it is good to begin to sow seeds. 

The light level at this time of the year is very low and the length of the daylight time is very short.  (a day is 24 hours and does not alter noticeably during the year.)

So I have sown some seed.  The best rule is to plant seed that you don't mind loosing but would be a great boon if they survived to be put out into the allotment.  Even with the seeds I don't mind loosing, I have only sown a few. 

I have a number of seed packets from various places either half price or free.  I am mainly using these. 

I am sowing into New Horizons Organic General Compost and in 3 inch pots.  I will transplant any seedlings into their own three inch pots when they have germinated.  I fill the pots and then tamp the compost down gently with a tamper downer. 

Joseph Bentley Pot Tamper.
The seed is sown onto the tamped compost.  Compost is then sieved over the top of the seeds and gently tamped down again.  The pots are watered with a fine rose watering can. 

Haws No 4 Extra Fine Rose

They will be kept on a sunny south west facing window sill during January but the onions and leeks will be taken to the allotment unheated greenhouse as soon as they get big enough to transplant. 

The seeds that I have sown are:
Leek "Blue Solaise"
Leek "Musselburgh"
Onion "Bedfordshire Champion"
Onion "Golden Bear"
Onion "Stuttgarter Giant"
Tomato "Alecante"
Tomato "Crystal"
Tomato "Black Russian"

There were only two seeds in the tomato "Crystal" packet and I could be affronted by this, however the packet was free so who am I to quibble?

I have a small plastic upright "greenhouse" inside the glass greenhouse and this serves as additional protection.  So if February is mild I might take the tomato seedlings and put them in to harden them off.  They survived last year when I did it.  Up until today the temperature in the main greenhouse has not fallen below about 8 or 9 decrees Celsius.  I find this remarkable because in the past that is the highest temperature I could keep the greenhouse this time of the year. 

You have to be very vigilant with seeds this time of the year.  If you are germinating in an airing cupboard or elsewhere dark warm place then you need to put the seedlings into the light as soon as they have poked their heads out of the soil. 

Otherwise they become etiolated.  This is stretched towards the light. 

If this happens to my seedlings, and it probably will, I transplant them by making the hole a little deeper and keeping the above soil stem only about one centimetre high.  They still make good plants eventually if you put them in full sunlight.

Now I am taking the peelings from the vegetables to the allotment composters and then I will turn all the bins.  The ground is still frozen and we might have the frost for a whole day.  This will be the first time this winter.  Which means that I definitely will not be going onto the growing beds to do anything. 

I still need to plant the shallots and garlic though.  The cold will not affect them particularly but I never plant into frozen ground. 

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