Northern Exposure

Triumphs and failures on a window ledge.

Idle Hands April 28, 2009

Filed under: Colour,Flower,Indoor,Seeds,Spring,Summer,Weekend Work — northernwindowgardener @ 7:30 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

The potting shedWell they do say that the devil makes work for idle hands and while I’m not sure this is what the saying intended I’ve certainly been busy. After ducking out of a full scale planting of the window boxes due to the incoming bad weather I decided to attack the last set of seedlings in the propagator.

The sweet pea experiment prove that the non-chipped seeds germinated while the chipped ones didn’t. It was 3-0 in the shootout which alternatively means that none of the five chipped seeds germinated and two of the untouched seeds didn’t either. A bit of an odd result but I might have been too harsh with the chipping.

Next was the convolvulus which had started to get a bit leggy. I’ve been guilty of short-filling the 3″ pots when potting on but this time I properly filled them and hopefully that will help them develop good roots.

3-0 Result

3-0 Result

Next up were the aster seedlings. I’ve done rally badly with asters up until now but these seedlings, although small, have all grown nicely. This left me in the unusual situation of selecting only the strongest looking ones to pot on. A bit of a first for me in not potting on all that was available. The nemesia are still a bit fragile looking so although they too could do with thinning out I’ve left them as they are in the heated propagator.

By this time I was getting into my stride – pots at the ready, peat-free compost by my side.  What next?

Looking around I finally admitted what I’d known for weeks. When I potted on the verbena and brachycome I cheated by leaving a couple of seedlings in most pots, as this was how they’d been sown and germinated. I knew it was a bad idea at the time but I let myself be soft hearted and didn’t either pot them on separately or only take the strongest. I’ve got a feeling this is why both types look a bit straggly and weak. In truth they really aren’t ready to be planted outside even if the weather was going to be nice.

Finally grasping the bull by the horns – or perhaps the brachycome by the stems – I started to knock them out of the pots, attempt to very gently divide the roots up into two, and re-pot them back into their own 3″ pot.

I’m sure experienced gardeners will know how time-consuming, delicate and possibly fruitless this whole process was. Needless to say that despite picking up more pots at the weekend, I’ve used every single one I had. Just so you can share the shame, I counted 80 little pots dotted around the room in trays, on bunkers, in propagators and on shelves. That’s to say nothing of the nasturtium forest growing away in a darkened corner and the few nemesia and impatiens seedlings in the heated prop. Those with good memories will also remember I have some cactus hidden away as well which I’m not even going to mention at the moment. At least those don’t need too much tlc.

The one really interesting thing about trying to recover this bad situation is that I got to see the difference in root systems for different plants. Some of the verbena were pretty poor whereas others were wrapping themselves around the inside of the pot. The brachycome were much less developed and I wonder if leaving them in groups of two or three has meant they’ve all done poorly or if that’s just the stage they are at. It means that whatever happens next I’ll have a reasonable idea of why they’ve succeeded or failed. Not too bad for an evening’s work but I have an aching back now and fingers that will take days to get properly clean again. Maybe the devil did get some payback after all!

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5 Responses to “Idle Hands”

  1. Glo Says:

    I really do enjoy reading your posts! So, I see that the naughty nasturtiums are still standing in the dark corner, faces to the wall, taking their discipline without complaint, I hope 😉

    Well, you definitely did have a busy time with your sprouting family. Having such patience is impressive, and I can imagine how tiring that was once you got started at it!

    Has the weather forecast improved any, or are you still in for some cold fronts? Looking forward to the next episode…

  2. Flighty Says:

    I soak my sweet pea seeds overnight before sowing , and disgard any that haven’t swollen up.
    I must say that I’ve sown very few seeds in pots this year but reading this, and other entries, makes me feel that I may be making an effort to do lots more next year.
    It’s surprising how tiring doing this can be. Fingers that look dirty are the sign of a keen gardener!

  3. Glo – thanks! Nasturtium’s can’t stay facing anything but the light for any length of time. It’s amazing how quickly they lean back towards the light when I turn them away from it. Weather’s been changeable – shunshine and showers. I probably would have been ok to plant up last weekend but now I’m not sure I’ll do it this weekend after all the repotting.

    Flighty – the one thing I didn’t try with the sweet peas! I think if I hadn’t had some early success, and was able to pick up lots of bedding plants easily, then I wouldn’t have done nearly as many seeds. It’s been fun even though it’s out of control now! It’s worth the effort but then I only have a small patch to look after and can do it all from indoors.

    Thanks for the comments 🙂

  4. leafyleith Says:

    I am growing sweet peas for the first time this year but chipping mine seems to have worked, although having read your blog my effort may have been in vain. I just removed a tiny piece of the outer kernel with a sharp knife and then placed the seeds on a tray of damp kitchen paper and covered it with cling-film. (Think I read that on the BBC).

    The majority germinated in about four days. I transplanted them like a surgeon using tweezers so as not to damage the shoot. I’ve been pinching out the growing tips for a few weeks now and planted them out in the garden at the weekend. It’s turned a bit cold, but hoping they will be ok.

  5. Leafyleith – isn’t it strange the things we end up doing to make plants grow? Tweezers, kitchen paper and clingfilm! I chipped mine then planted them straight away so every chance that doing it your way will work better. Thanks for commenting 🙂


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