May is a pretty mad month in the greenhouse as the seedling shuffle continues apace. Last month’s sown seeds are shooting like crazy. More new seedlings need to be pricked out and potted up daily. And larger plantlets are outgrowing their starter pots and being potted on at a rate of knots. I’m loving every minute of it.
In lieu of time to describe everything in detail, here’s a quick photo gallery to convey the general impression:
What’s giving you particular joy in the greenhouse at the moment? Let me know via the comments…
Almost the first thing we did when we moved into our new house last Summer (apart from put he kettle on) was to invest in the biggest greenhouse that we could sensibly fit into our new back garden. We hoped that the 8’x10′ we opted for would offer more than enough working and storage space to meet our needs. It really should have done, but thanks to these cold snaps that the weather keeps throwing at us, we’re rapoidly running out of room.
We’ve currently got about as much heavy duty plastic shelving crammed into the place as we can sensibly fit and pretty much every shelf is taken up with plants in various stages of development. They range from newly-sown seeds – I put in some peas at the weekend; sweetcorn, gherkins, squash and kale in the last couple of weeks, and Jo has been working hard on her flower selection – through to good-sized plants – the broad beans for instance, and the dahlia tubers – which are pretty much ready to go out onto the allotment. That is, they would be if it wasn’t too darn cold to risk trying to harden them off in the cold frame, and there wasn’t a very real danger of frost and snow showers damaging the tender young shoots if we did.
Here’s a small selection of what we’re currently juggling:
The forecast for the weekend is a bit more promising. If there’s no frost on the longer-range radar then we’ll start moving a few things out into the newly re-stained cold frame to begin hardening off, and all being well we can take them down to Plot #59 in a couple of weeks’ time.
(And please do feel free to sing the title of this post to the tune of the E-Street Band classic, chorus line, if you feel the urge…)
Last weekend I decided the time had come to pot on this year’s successfully germinated Chilli seeds. it being around six weeks since I sowed them. Not all had germinated but I wasn’t expecting a 100% hit rate, so I wasn’t at all disappointed by the tally of 17 viable seedlings.
I’d already half-filled a sufficient number of 7cm(ish) pots with general purpose compost, soaked it and left it to warm in the greenhouse. The next job was to get the chilli seedlings from their trays to the pots. My tool of choice for that job is an old dessert spoon, which allows a good scoop of compost around the base of the seedling to be lifted in one piece. This helps to minimise damage to the incredibly delicate roots – and the even more fragile, microscopic root hairs – that are so essential to the health of the plant.
Once all 17 (7x Cayenne, 5x Prairie Fire, 3x Pot Black and 2x Habanero / Scotch Bonnet) were safely potted up, topped up with compost and watered in, they went back into the Vitopod propagator – set to a balmy 20°C to bring them within the optimal temperature range for photosynthesis – to grow on. They’ll be moved to the greenhouse in another couple of weeks (some maybe a little sooner if we need the space to germinate more seeds) but it’s a little too chilly in there overnight just yet.
They seem to be doing quite nicely back in the Vitopod: a few of them have started putting out a second pair of true leaves. When they’re big and strong enough – around 12 to 15cm tall, with five or six good leaf pairs – they’ll be re-potted again into 15cm pots. The best three (hopefully of the more interesting varieties) will then be put in the Chilligrow containers.
It’s going to be a bumper year for Capsicum, with any luck. Anyone know a good recipe for chilli dipping sauce?
Always one of my favourite moments of the growing season: the appearance of the first seedlings of the year. A small start, but so much promise of harvests to come.
Here we have germination from seven of the twelve cayenne chilli seeds that I sowed on January 26th. They’re about three days above-ground in this pic, which means they germinated in around (does sums in head…) ten days in our Vitopod heated propagator.
As you can see, I’ve taken them out of said heated unit (seven plants should be more than enough) and transferred them to a vented, un-heated propagato: just a lid on top of a standard seed tray, on our north-west-facing kitchen window-sill.
Two reasons for doing so: firstly to (hopefully) avoid these seedlings from damping off in the humid atmosphere, and secondly so I could whack up the heat in the Vitopod to 24°C in order to give the three slower-germinating varieties of chilli – pot black, prairie fire and habanero / scotch bonnet – a bit of a boost. (It worked, by the way, as there are now tiny seedlings showing in all three trays).
Once the cayenne seedlings are large enough to safely handle, I’ll prick them out and pot them up in individual small pots of compost, then pot them on again a time or two and move them to the greenhouse, before deciding on their final growing position. I suspect that the three-pot Chilligrow planter will be reserved for the more interesting varieties, depending on how they do, so these cayenne might end up in pots in the greenhouse, or wall-baskets in a sunny spot somewhere.
I’ll post more pics and updates as things develop.