Posts Tagged ‘seeds’

Make Your Own Seed Starting Mix

March 5th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

It’s that time of year again: seed sowing time. Sowing the first seeds of the growing season is always incredibly exciting. Think about all the fresh, home-grown products to come.

If you are planning on starting to sow in containers, you will need seed starting mix. And since buying this is often quite expensive, we will show you how to make your own.

 

Seed starting Mix

The perfect seed starting mix, should not be too high in nutrients, which could harm delicate seedlings. The mix should also hold on to moister without becoming soggy. Overly wet conditions can rot seeds and encourage fungal diseases such as damping off.

Here is a very simple recipe: It’s a soilless recipe so it’s beautifully light and fluffy. All the ingredients are natural too, promoting good strong growth and healthy, happy seedlings.

Seed-starting-mixBegin with 2 parts compost as your base. All parts measured by volume; So it doesn’t matter what you use to measure your ingredients, as long as you are consistent.

The compost adds slowly released nutrients to the mix, which will help to feed seedlings as they grow. You can use your own garden compost or buy some.

Break up clumps with your hands or screen/sift it to get a fine even texture.

Then add 2 parts coir or coconut fiber. If your coirs come in a block, rehydrate it first by soaking it in a bucket of water until you can easily break it apart. If you prefer you could substitute well-rotted leafmould instead of the coir.

Finally, add 1 part perlite, which will both lighten the mix and improve its air content. You can substitute perlite with sand, but it will give you a heavier mixture.

Mix all the ingredients together, create a consistent mix with all the ingredients evenly distributed. Once done, store the seed starter mix in a lidded container or in a plastic sac. Store your mix in a dry cool place.

 

Using your seed starting mix

Moisture your seed starting mix a little bit before using it, for it to be damp but not sodden. You can use your mix for sowing into plug trays, plastic pots, seeds trays or any other container suitable for seed sowing.

Gently press down your seed starting mix as you fill your container and take particular care to properly fill out the corners. Top up with more mix if required. Sow your seeds according to the package’s instructions and water. Watering requires some care if you don’t want to blast the mix out of the container.

Once the seedlings have germinated, it is best to water them from below. Put your containers in shallow trays of water, until the surface of the mix is moist.

Marigold-young-plants

 

Potting on

Many seedlings need potting on into larger containers at least once before it’s time to plant them out. Most will be happy in the same seed starting mix. But for hungrier seedlings like tomato for example, they will appreciate something a bit richer. Adding some worm compost, gives it the nutritional boost for after.

 

Container Potting Mixes

Try this potting mix for plants to be grown in larger containers.

Combine 2 parts garden compost with 1 part coir or leamould. Now add some perlite for drainage. 2-3 generous handfuls to every 10 gallons or 40 liters of the coir/compost mix. A similar amount of worm compost can also be added for hungry plants. Or incorporate a slow release organic fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Plants grown in the same container for a very long time need a potting mix that holds its structure. Loam or good quality garden soil offers this.

Simply combine 1 part loam or garden soil with 1 part garden compost. Then add some slow releasing organic fertilizer.

 

Making your own potting mix will save you a lot of money, but the other benefit of these recipes is that they can also be tweaked depending on what you are growing.

 

 

These are just a few tips and ideas to help you create your own sowing mix. If you have any additonal tips let us know which ones in the comments below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page and tell us what you would recomend.

Get ahead with spring sowing

February 16th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Calendula 'Snow Princess'

Well, last week I was talking about seeds not to sow this month, so this time I’m reversing the idea – what can we sow now that we should have sown in the autumn?

I’m always bashing on about how autumn is a really good time to sow a number of popular annuals, especially those that grow naturally in the Mediterranean region where they germinate at the end of summer and in autumn as the rains begin. Sweet peas, nigellas, cornflowers, cerinthe, calendulas, and annual chrysanthemums all produce superb plants from an autumn sowing. But we don’t always get round to it. So can we sow them now and still get ahead of the usual March or April sowing? Yes, we can.

The problem is that in February the soil is so cold that germination is very slow and slugs and rots of all kinds can kill seedlings before they get anywhere. But if we can get them to start to grow in February they’ll make better plants than if they’re sown a month later. Here’s what I suggest.

If you have a cold greenhouse, then you’re all set. Sow sweet peas in Rootrainers and the others in regular modules, sow them and grow them on in the cold greenhouse and plant out in April.

But, if you don’t have a greenhouse, here’s what to do. Sow the seeds in Rootrainers or other modules and keep them in the house, anywhere warm. The seeds need more warmth for speedy germination than they do for growing. Then, as soon as the seeds show signs of emerging, move them outside. Don’t wait until their leaves unfurl and the stems start to stretch. Where, exactly, you move them is important.

Choose somewhere warm and cosy, a position that benefits from as much low late winter sun as possible. Ensure that surplus moisture can drain away and, crucially, protect the emerging seedlings from slugs. I use organic SlugClear™ Ultra³  slug pellets which I find work very well.

I used this method with sweet peas and with calendulas last year, I’m expecting to prove the point with other annuals this this year. Why not give it a try?

Mr Fothergill’s supports hospice gardens with launch of new sweet pea Greenfingers

August 19th, 2016 | News | 0 Comments

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Mr Fothergill’s has pledged its support for Greenfingers (www.greenfingerscharity.org.uk), the charity dedicated to creating magical gardens for children’s hospices, by naming a brand-new sweet pea after it for the 2017 season. Sweet pea Greenfingers has an old-fashioned grandiflora flower form and the strong, memorable scent associated with those types in their Victorian heyday; its blooms are a rich cream with a delicate wire rim or picotée of pale violet. The climber is well suited to both garden display and as a cut flower, when its fragrance fills a room.

Mr Fothergill’s Tim Jeffries has pledged 25p to Greenfingers for every packet of 20 seeds priced at £2.45 the Suffolk seedsman sells through its retailers, mail order catalogue and website during the 2016/17 gardening season. Announcing the initiative, Tim commented “We are delighted to support such a worthwhile charity and a cause close to so many hearts. By launching sweet pea Greenfingers, we hope we can raise the charity’s profile with our customers, Britain’s gardeners and the garden trade”.

Head of fundraising at Greenfingers Linda Petrons officially named sweet pea Greenfingers at Mr Fothergill’s annual trial grounds open day for the gardening media in mid August. She said “We would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Mr Fothergill’s for this thoughtful gesture, which we hope will not only make more people aware of the work we do, but will also raise vital funds to help us continue creating magical and inspiring gardens for children who spend time in hospices right across the UK”.

For more information on Mr Fothergill’s 2017 range, please visit the Mr Fothergills website.

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