Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Starting Seeds and Repotting Plants

Now is the time to start seed for summer flowers and crops. Thousands of garden writers out there, each with their way to start seeds. So, here’s my two cents worth:

Use a quality potting mix. Using garden soil bring in fungus and insects you don’t want or need. Also, garden soil is dynamic and needs to be in the garden. Removing garden soil from its natural environment, is the same as cutting off your hand.  No longer attached to your body, it will die.
Potting mix is sterilized and formulated for container use. It does not pack, have fungus, or disease.
I have known people to use a special, seed starting mix in conjunction with special seed starting flats. I use regular potting mix in old six packs gathered from friends and family.

 Rules for using old containers:
  1. Rinse the container to remove old potting mix and spider eggs.
  2. Submerge the containers in 1 part chlorine bleach to 9 parts cool water for 30 minutes.
  3. Rinse the containers well with cool water.
  4. Now, you may use them.
While I was starting some basil, I thought I would pot up my window garden as well.  I have been growing rosemary, thyme, a Christmas cactus, and a Snake plant on the windowsill all winter.  It was time to move them from water to potting mix.

My plants before potting.  The sage died before I could pot it.

1 sheet of TP in the bottom of a pot.

 The old saw was to put an inch of gravel, broken pottery, or other such in the bottom of the pot for drainage.  That has been disproven.  It has been found that gravity works!    Instead, just put a piece of 1 ply TP in the bottom of the pot to contain the potting mix until the roots form a ball.  TP will rot quickly and still allow for drainage.  Otherwise the rocks take up space that the roots need.
Soaking a clay pot before planting.
Clay pots need to be soaked in water before you plant in them.  The reason:  Clay pots are dry (duh) and will syphon off the water from your potting mix.  By soaking them for 30 minutes prior to planting, the plant gets to use the water and there is less transplant shock.
Also, when watering plants in clay pots, it is best to soak the plant and pot for at least 30 - 60 minutes.  This ensures the potting mix will take up as much water as possilble.  Soaking a plant in water, for short periods, will not damage it.  Trust me!
The gorgeous Olde Worlde Pote has no drainage hole.  I am using the clay pot as a liner.
Soaking freshly potted plants.
After potting plants, it is a good idea to give them a long drink.  I just allow capillary action to fill the pot with water.  I then drain them on the edge of the sink, before putting them in the window.
Here are my plants, ready for home decor or the kitchen window.
The herbs are in the kitchy sleeves.  I found them at the Dollar Tree and couldn't resist!  They look just joyful in my turquoise kitchen (adding Hunter Green to Pale Spring Leaf Green does not equal a darker Spring Leaf Green.  I forgot Hunter Green is really bluey.)
The Christmas cactus has a home in the living room, next to the 10 ft long picture window!
Soaking the basil seed.

 I planted 18 basil plants.  I will start them on the air conditioner shelf, outside the bedroom window.  That way, if cold nights are forecast, I can cover them to shield them from the cold.  I planted another pot for the windowsill in the kitchen.  Since that one will be warmer, I should have basil available in about six weeks.
I will buy my other starts are the Farmers Coop.  Just not enough room.  And, the dogs are sure to knock over any starts while they play.

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