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Seed Sowing and Damping Off

March 30, 2012

I have had some successes and several failures with seed sowing in the last three weeks. All my broad beans, peas and mange tout came through fast and with no casualties but other vegetables were not so straight forward. Until the weather turned into a heat wave I started seeds off of  lettuce, ruby chard, leeks, cavola nero and calabrese  in the heated propagator. I had washed the base and the lid in dilute bleach and I very thoroughly washed the 9cm pots before filling them.

Within days of appearing through the soil surface the seedlings suddenly flopped and wilted beyond all hope. This is known as ‘damping off’ and can affect the seedlings of all plants. It’s attributed to a fungus in the soil provoked by poor ventilation, over watering and un-clean pots and trays. I keep large bags of commercial seed sowing compost in a lidded plastic container under the steps in the garden.  I think this has led to the problem since the compost has been there for 6 months and it feels damp and cold as does the space it sits in.

So last week I bought fresh compost and this I left overnight in the warm kitchen. I started again with all my seed sowing and changed my method. I placed some 9cm pots of sown seeds in the heated propagator but I kept the lid off to allow air to circulate freely. Other pots of sown seeds I put straight into the pop up greenhouse. To my delight and because of the warm weather many seeds have germinated fast in the pop up greenhouse whereas they are taking their time in the propagator. But with the lid off and a gentle  heat at the base I feel conditions are right for germination. All it means is that I’ll be a bit behind with my planting.

Then inspired by http://wellywoman.wordpress.com I shall sow several varieties of seeds for cut flowers directly in the ground on the allotment. I have dill, Ammi visnage, Adonis aestivalis, Calendula Indian Prince, Papaver Ladybird and Sunflower Black Magic all ready to be sown in a prepared bed next to the sitting area.

And on a cheerful note the tulips have opened in the parterre and they look cool and rather lovely. I can’t name them since they were a bargain in the sale in Wilkinsons but they are just the right tone of cream which works very well with the box hedge.

And for my cut flower challenge I cut some wonderfully shrill magenta coloured tulips from a pot in the garden and mixed them with these lime green Euphorbia robbiae.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2012 1:35 pm

    Beautiful flower arrangement!

  2. March 30, 2012 1:50 pm

    The little parterre looks gorgeous – as you say , really effiective with the simple cream tulips. Often less is more, and it looks lovely in this case.

  3. April 2, 2012 2:43 pm

    Thanks for the mention. I’m now up at the allotment most days having to water because the soil is so dry and I’m worried the seeds aren’t going to germinate. I love the combination of colours, the zingy green and the purple. Sorry to hear about the damping off problem. I’ve had it a few times and it is frustrating. At least there is plenty of time at the moment to catch up.

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