Tag Archive: seedling


One of the main things I had to learn about renovating was to be extremely flexible. At times I did struggle this, however overall now that we’ve finished – I think I did (reasonably) ok. A fair amount of tantrums occurred though when the garden was invaded. Over the past few years renovations have been mostly inside, however at the very end (back in September) all the weatherboards were replaced outside and the eaves etc were sanded to make the front look… well…stunning. The only problem with this was the garden underneath was trampled in the process. To be fair to my partner Chris, I was warned of this pretty much the day we moved in, so I’ve really only planted annuals and a couple of bulbs. But still – when the time came I guess I’d put it so far in the back of my mind, that it was hard to watch.

new bit 1

I sulked for a good childish amount of time, but then given free rein to start building up the garden again did spark me out of my mood. I thought about it for weeks, trying to work out how to form a “screen” between the two new pillars. I thought about different grasses, small shrubs and even lavender came to mind. However a walk about our local streets revealed the inspiration I needed – my favourite native correas! It seemed very me and I loved the idea instantly.

What was left - a new blank canvas to work with

What was left – a new blank canvas to work with

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I dug through some compost under both windows and planted my “Alba” correa (had been growing in a pot out the back) between the pillars. I found a couple of cheap mini “Alba” cuttings too which I planted either side – hopefully as they grow larger they’ll continue to form a screen. I divided a grass that I already had growing there and added a lot of annuals around the front to hopefully give the areas a burst of summer colour.

Initial planting (in September/October)

Initial planting (in September/October)

Under the bay window I also planted three correas – this time a “Canberra Bells” as well as a couple of my “Relexa” cuttings I’ve been growing. Again annuals were splattered around to hopefully give a burst of life.

Initial planting (September/October)

Initial planting (September/October)

I’ve now also moved a few spring seedlings out there too – including dwarf beans, capsicums and pumpkin seedlings (a bit hopeful I think, but worth a try!). Now that it’s been a couple of months, everything has grown and the area is looking a lot better (see photos below)

Even though the garden went through a very negative patch, and a lot of my spring bulbs were nowhere to be seen this year – things are now back to positive and on the way up. Thankfully rennos are now finished, and I can go back to protecting plants just from snails – at least they’re smaller.

What the garden now looks like - photos taken this week

What the garden now looks like – photos taken this week

The garden now (photo taken this week)

The garden now (photo taken this week)

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Spring is here!

Towards the end of winter I planted out my first round of spring seeds. I’ve been keeping them inside next to a north-facing window and had hoped the warmer temperatures and protection inside would convince the seedlings it was spring. It worked! The seedlings are now a couple of weeks old and are looking pretty happy.

Now that they are larger I’ve been very tempted to plant some out into the garden, but the weather is still a little cool and fluctuating… so I might wait till the weather gets a bit more settled. For now, as with every year, our lounge room has turned into a mini nursery – but it certainly has started the spring excitement at our place!

seed trays 1 seed trays 12 seed trays 10 seed trays 5 seed trays 6 seed trays 7 seed trays 3 seed trays 8 seed trays 9

Revamping…

Last year we placed three small hanging baskets on the fence which can be seen out the window next to my desk where I write this blog. They flowered all spring and summer and made my work space very cheerful. However I’ve ignored them and they’ve been dead and empty for most of winter… With spring getting ever so close, it was time for replanting! I dug through some compost and fresh potting mix with the soil already in the baskets followed by planting some cheap flower seedlings and a few oregano cuttings. Instant colour & brightness! Hopefully they will continue to grow, flower and inspire me over the next gardening season.

Pretty much dead & empty...

Pretty much dead & empty…

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New view from the window

New view from the window

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first gardening photo

I had to giggle when I stumbled across this photo when searching for something on my computer. This is my very first attempt at gardening. Tomato seedlings – growing under a sunny (and yet to be renovated) window. As I thought only a few would germinate, so I had put lots of seeds in these little tubs (recycled fruit cups with no drainage! Ahh the inexperience) I ended up with 32 healthy cherry tomato seedlings that year, each individually nurtured and I completely fell in love with the experience. Small beginnings…

I think the verdict is finally in on my seedling experiment (see previous posts: breaking the first rule of blogging and seedling experiment update) and now I know what to do in years to come. I’d love to show you a photo of the winning tray – which by far was the tray kept under a sunny window, but I can’t as the tray was so successful most of the seedlings are now out in the garden! Instead here are some healthy looking tomatoes, all grown from seeds from the winning tray and even starting to form fruit.

"Sweetie" tomoatoes

“Sweetie” tomatoes

"Florida Basket" tomatoes

“Florida Basket” tomatoes

"Tommy Toe" (left) and two "Sweet Grape" tomatoes

“Tommy Toe” (left) and two “Sweet Grape” tomatoes

Verdict 4

As the spring weather heated up – I did move this tray outside into full morning sun and then back inside at night for protection, which seemed to work well and the seedlings thrived.

Also a very big thank you to Rosalind (of Just Another Beer Blog) who recommended I try small shallow trays rather than just ready-to-plant paper pots. At first the tray was half demolished by snails in the greenhouse, but after I moved it inside the seedlings have grown really well. Particularly the eggplant seedling – I have never been able to grow eggplants from seeds into full size plants before! Now I know for the years to come how to make it happen – thank you!

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Eggplant seedlings growing

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Eggplants currently out in the garden

I’ve had a couple of chilli and capsicum seedlings growing – but they have been quite small and are growing a lot slower than the tomatoes and eggplants. Hopefully they’ll get big enough to plant out soon.

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Chilli and friend

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Capsicums

As for the control tray that was left outside open to the elements – I have planted out a couple of tomatoes from this tray, but that was really all and they haven’t thrived like the others. As for the greenhouse seedlings – it was a complete disaster. I have planted out nothing from this tray, and they barely grew after germination. Once slightly warmer weather during spring kicked in, despite leaving the door open during the day and watering daily, all the seedlings died.

So I may not be the best salesperson for greenhouses or paper pots – but at least I’ll be enjoying my very own tomatoes and eggplants this summer (and still hopeful for capsicums) – all grown from seeds. But I won’t be getting rid of my greenhouse just yet – because apparently I’m not the only one who uses it…

verdict 9 Verdict 10

Why I hate snails

I haven’t always been out to get snails – but I did start out naive and inexperienced… When I first grew seedlings (a few years ago) I was delighted as they germinated and grew before my eyes in the safety of the indoors. Once large enough, excited with the thought of future vegetables to harvest – I planted out some zucchini, bean and sunflower seedlings, picturing the start of what was to come. The next morning I passed through the garden on my way to work and smiled down at my seedlings, – only to find…. nothing. They were gone. All of them. At first I thought I’d simply forgotten where I’d planted them (foolish hope), but then the realisation sunk in and I began to understand all the stories I’d heard about the “gardening war”. A short search revealed all that was left was the stems/roots of the seedling under the ground. All my weeks of work and care had been destroyed in one night.

A collection after an afternoon shower (not even night yet) – what chance do my seedlings have?!

At first I tried relocating the snails onto the nature strip and further down the street. They all came back though, and brought my neighbours’ snails with them (I probably deserved that). I tried egg shells, coffee grounds, beer and orange juice traps – all which seemed useless. I then got ruthless. Frustration and desire to have a vegetable garden set in – the number of snails that have ended up under my shoe or in our numerous skips as the renovations progress would amaze you. Spotlighting at night would find 20-40 snails every dry night and 100-150 on wet nights. Every night. The saying should be changed to “breeding like snails” rather than rabbits.

Copper tape has given me a bit of relief, and I do feel I can leave the garden alone at night now. But I still lose seedlings from time to time as snails have managed to find their way under a container, or over the top with the help of nearby plants and grass. They never seem to give me a break – I have even seen snails start moving towards seedlings while I’m still planting them!

Comparison of copper tape protecting a seedling vs one without

So you tell me, what is the point of snails? What good are they to me and my garden? I actually searched for this online and the main answer I found was “food for frogs”. I have no frogs, but I am now thinking about acquiring some. The second most common answer was to consume dead plant material – however the snails never seem to do this, preferring my seedlings over anything else.  Another reason I found was “to keep gardeners humble”. Well you can see how well that went down!

Unfortunately for now the war will continue, which means I will continue to be a snail killer purely as my love for gardening is obviously much higher than my humanity for snails. But when people think I’m mean, insensitive and ask why I’m cruel to snails – I offer to help them start a vegetable garden…

It’s been a month since I started off my seedling experiment (see previous post – breaking the first rule of blogging), but given the small amount of growth I wish I’d started a month earlier. By far, the winner at the moment is the seedling tray that has been kept inside under the window. The seeds germinated over a week earlier than the other two trays (greenhouse and “control” outside) and the seedlings are now visibly larger as well. A few tomatoes have even been large enough to plant out into the garden, which already feels like a success compared to last year.

Tray 1: kept inside under a sunny window

Tray 1: inside

Tray 1: inside

Seedling from tray 1 planted out in the garden

I was surprised that the seeds in the greenhouse tray took so long to germinate, but I think despite watering them daily they were drying out too much. After moving the tray to the middle shelf (rather than top) they seemed to do better. That was until snails found them…. I would have thought this tray would have been the safe one! But alas, having basil seedlings growing in there too – snails devoured the basil and a few of my other seedlings at the same time. Nightly snail checks over a week found a new snail in there each night, so I’ve moved some of the seedlings into the inside tray to keep them safe.  The seeds in the tray left outside (open to the elements) germinated around the same time as the ones in the greenhouse and growth has been at about the same rate. No snail attacks as of yet, but a few seed pots were obliterated by what appears to be a cat attack. Well I did say they were open to all elements…

Tray 2: greenhouse

Tray 3: outside

Tray 3: tomato seedlings (quite small compared to tray 1)

While I will still be updating on the progress of the three trays, I think I have already discovered why I have been struggling with small seeds – I bought a greenhouse. Two years ago I had a lot of success with small seeds, but I didn’t have the greenhouse then so I would move the seedlings outside during the day, and bring them inside (sheltered from the cold and snails) each night. The seedlings loved the attention and thrived. Last year I bought a greenhouse and grew all my seedlings in there. While it made sense to me at the time, the temperature fluctuations (even when keeping the door open on hot days) was obviously enough to stop the success of my small seeds.

Tray 2: greenhouse – eggplant seedling

I won’t be throwing out the greenhouse just yet though, larger seedlings do really well earlier in spring when it’s a bit too cold to be in the garden yet, and some plants can be moved in over winter to help keep them warm. For now though it looks like our house will be turning into a nursery each spring…

All of my gardening so far (apart from a couple of pots here and there) has been in our front yard. Our backyard has been, and will continue to be, part of the working space for our renovations. We have talked lightly about what we’d like to put out the back, but haven’t formed anything as of yet (probably because if it was left to me I’d turn the whole thing into one big veggie patch, and we haven’t finished the structural things like carports and paths yet). But when my partner suggested a veggie patch along the side next to the fence – that was all I needed!

Ok, in fairness he did suggest a raised veggie patch, but with the chaos that’s occurring in the rest of the house, it was being left to the backburner as a “non-essential” part of the renovations. Sacrilege! But I am probably one of the few people who would put a veggie patch above half a house (literally, we’re living in half our house at the moment). I decided while waiting that I would make the veggie patch myself, at least without the borders, until we decided what we were going to do (or my negotiation skills got better!).

Yes, we live here….

The soil out the back is actually pretty good as we’ve added a lot of topsoil already to the whole yard. I added a fair amount of my own compost to the section as well to help build it up. So far I’ve planted a couple of tomatoes, a couple of cucumber seedlings and a few flower seedlings to help attract bees (snapdragons, alyssum and linaria). I also planted a zucchini seedling and a couple of pumpkin seedlings which I realise are probably going to grow out of the patch and possibly take over the lawn… but give me an inch and I’ll take a mile! Although the pumpkins are supposed to be a compact variety that you can grow in pots, so I’ll see how it goes… if it gets too much I’ll take them out. Some climbing beans in a pot and a few strawberries have made the patch complete. For now…

The pets have already moved in

The garden at the start of spring ready for an overhaul…

I have to admit… it took me a bit to find the motivation to get out this spring to do my usual half-yearly overhaul. I should be excited and raring to go – spring is here! But I found myself putting it off for a few weeks and procrastinating with bread, blogging and coffee… Don’t get me wrong – I’m not afraid of hard work – but when all the winter veggies still look so lush and green (although no longer fruiting or ready for final harvests), it seems a pity to pull them out. However once I got going my usual optimism about what the next season of gardening would create returned, and my motivation quickly followed.

I started by pulling out all the spent winter vegetables. There seemed to be an awful lot this year – I filled an entire compost bin! Then I continued by turning over all the soil and adding compost back in. As always I tend to mix up vegetables to add an element of interest (or craziness depending who you’re talking to…I prefer interest). This also helps to confuse pests and prevent spread of diseases. So far this has worked pretty well – except for the snails, they’re not fussy and eat everything…

So far I’ve planted some zucchini, bean and sunflower seedlings that I grew from seed. I’m sorry to say that I did buy a couple of tomato seedlings to put in as well,  but I still have high hopes for my seedling experiment and hope to add more of my own a little later when they are large enough and the weather is warmer.

By the time I finished all this off (a little later) with some straw – the spring flowers were out in full swing and suddenly my garden had been filled with splashes of bright colour, which helps remind me of the changing seasons and that it won’t be long before my garden is full of plants and the promise of harvests again.

It’s been a bit over a month since I started my experiment to see if leggy seedlings could be saved by planting them deeper than normal into soil – and I have good news! Don’t throw out your leggy seedling, because so far a lot have survived….

The verdict for the veggie seedlings:

 

Kale – huge success! All three types of kale (Red, Tuscan and Blue) that I’ve been growing have continued to grow and do well. Even so large now I transplanted a couple into the garden. While doing this I found than new roots had formed in the section I had planted up.

Red and Tuscan kale leggy seedlings out in the garden!

Broccoli/Cauliflower – mixed success… some have done quite well, others growing slowly. They haven’t died, but when checked hadn’t formed new roots either… will have to keep watching these ones

Purple Sicily Cauliflower

Silver beet/Ruby Chard and Kohl Rabi – all died. Don’t bother trying to save these ones.

Cabbage – will have to let you know for next time, because unfortunately these were all eaten by snails in the first week…

And in the flower department:

Honesty & Stock: Mixed success – still alive but growth extremely slow

Cornflower & Calendula – huge success! Growing well and looking good!

 

So there you have it. Turns out you can plant up leggy seedlings – some will form new roots and others will benefit from a bit of extra support. Overall leggy seedlings are certainly not a waste!