Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Behind the summer planting eight ball

For this post I though I might give you all a status update of where we and the garden are at. As you can see from my graph the garden has not been producing much output. We have been getting a few bits and pieces, for example just starting to come to the end of a great run of broccoli. But overall we are producing just a fraction compared to what we purchase.

Overall I am not too disappointment as I know allot has been achieved towards the establishment of the garden and its encompassing processes and routines. So much has also been learnt and I have a lot of you to thank for that. I was hoping this spring was going to be that explosive moment when the garden sprang to life with majority of the beds filled by now with little baby plants all ready to give us a very productive summer. However our seedlings have not done too well, nor have we kept on top of replacing them. So a big lesson here is not to wait in hope for your seedlings. If they are not performing... start some more.

Allot of these seedling, like the carrots in paper pots, date back to the beginning of August. What should I do, ditch them or plant them out and see how they go?

We moved the seed table to a new location right next to the garden. The old location was up against a iron fence not appropriate for the coming heat. In the new location the seeds are shaded by the house in the afternoon. I don't know why we didn't consider this location earlier as it follows great permaculture principles being close to garden, highly accessible, and right next to a tap to fill the watering can.

On the weekend we got a whole tray of new ones going. And last night putting my "gardening in 15 minutes" into practise and following the advice of Scarecrow, I started a new routine where I will be sowing or planting out a minimum of one thing per night. In my allotted time, along with watering, I potted two thyme plants and planted out one coriander. Tonight I planted a whole row of lazy house wife beans.

Have got a few things planted out in this bed along with the potatoes that are doing really well.

The pumpkins have been planted out and are growing nicely. We have kept the mulch off this bed as we also scattered some old corn seeds that are now starting to come up. Along with some unknown mystery plants. Anyone willing to take a guess? My hope is that the corn will give the pumpkin a bit of shade. The beans I mentioned have been sown directly at the back of this bed and will climb the chicken fence like I have done with the runner beans. That are doing great BTW.

Even though a little behind the summer planting eight ball I am still feeling hopeful for a reasonable crop.


  1. My paper pots and seedlings were a total fail this year too! Again, they rotted too quickly and nothing really thrived... Oh well. I like Scarecrows idea. I should get onto that considering how light it is after work now. I tried Bruisemouse's square folding method so I could pack them into the trays but being so close together meant that they were moist constantly...

    How deep did you plant the corn? Maybe I plant corn too deep? Nothing seems to ever come up. Hmm

  2. Phoebe sorry to hear your paper pots failed. My paper pots lasted the distance but like you nothing thrived. It was the same with seedlings in my plastic pots. I wander if it was too much sun reflecting from the fence even in the cooler months. Or maybe a missed watering or two.

    Re the corn.. The children planted them so the depth would have varied from just below the surface to the length of an entire finger. My rule of thumb is plant seed at a depth double its size. You might want to try a different variety or at least a different packet in case that is the problem.

  3. Not sure about carrots in paper pots.... maybe that's why they don't look so good? I'd shove them in the ground and see what happens (also plant some more direct while you're at it!)..

  4. Yes, I agree..plant direct now. I would even swallow my pride and buy seedlings to make up for lost time.

  5. Yep. I had great plans to grow everything from seed this year. Fail. Today I went to big barn and bought some seedlings to fill the spots.

    I must make those paper pots as you have done in the future.

  6. I've only just discovered your blog today - I've had a read through, and I'm really impressed with what you have achieved!
    I feel exactly the same way about being behind on summer crops. I've had to bite the bullet and start sowing directly. I gave up on most of my capsicums, eggplant and chillis- they were just too slow. I swallowed my pride and bought seedlings. I might not have my pride, but at least I'll get fruit before winter :)


  7. I hear you all. Plant out the carrots and see how they go. What have you got to loose? Observe and learn for next time. Some of my seedlings have been very successful once planted out after a 'near death experience'. My winter carrots, planted direct from seed earlier this year took a seriously long time to actually become carrots so I wouldn't worry too much.

    I must admit I haven't had a lot of success with paper type pots. I find the paper draws so much moisture from the soil that it can compromise the root system which is especially dangerous for root vegetables like carrots. And sometimes paper pots hold too much moisture especially if they're leaning up against one another. So now I just use small plastic pots which I grabbed for free from a local nursery. And although an expensive option, bought seedlings are okay sometimes, especially when you're learning to get the timing thing right.

  8. I would put them in the ground also. I always buy the "hospital" or "TLC" Stock from nurseries, and usually they do great even if just to harvest seed from them for next planting, I do however stick to diggers or non-mondified/hybrid ones. Add some worm tea or liquid seasol and keep fingers and toes crossed. Yollie

  9. My experience with paper pots is to keep them regularly watered as the paper wicks the moisture from the soil and they dry out very quickly. I usually use them just for seeds like sunflowers, zucchini and melons that I want to get started early in the season and that will do better with less disturbance. These pots are great for minimal disturbance.

    Great blog too Jason. All the power to you.

  10. Thank you all so much for your understanding and great advise. It sounds like the paper potted seedlings failed due to drying out. Well nothing lost just another lesson under my hat. I will try them again as I really like them but I will have to make a few mods.

    The verdict from all of you seems to be to plant them out and see what happens which I will do but as a lower priority than getting some others going.

    The advise to swallow ones pride and buy seedlings is greatly appreciated. Often emotions like pride do cloud the goal. In this case producing food.

    JJ many thanks for a wonderful write up about me and my blog.

  11. In my experience, some things should always be planted directly in the ground. Carrots being one of them. Plant them in rows and thin them out as soon as you can grasp the green stems. You need to be ruthless. With a bit of practise you should be able to have carrots all year round.

    Also cucurbits are plants that don't like their roots disturbed (pumpkins, zuchinnis, cucumbers, watermelon, rock melon etc)If you have a warm incubating area eg kitchen window you can grow these in jiffy pots and then transfer them to your garden by planting the whole pot. Given the lateness in the season I would be planting all seedlings now except for staggered plantings.

  12. ... also I've heard you can use empty toilet rolls. They may have a little more stability than paper pots.

  13. sadsac yes I have tried toilet rolls also, same result. I think the problem is they wick the water out. Particularly mine as they are thin and tall, with a large amount of wick at the top. I will try again and also direct sow and compare.

  14. Oooohh, paper pots what a fab idea. Im sure I have to try that. We have been direct sowing a bunch of seeds we found at the back of the shed. Hopefully they will come up.

    We have a bunch of crop and drop seeds if you want them. We dont have room for crop and crop any longer but it is a great way to start a garden bed full of nutrient.

    see you soon Stephanie

  15. Stephanie I have no idea what you mean by 'crop and drop seeds' but I would love some, thanks.

  16. Hi Jason
    Have just come across your blog and have enjoyed the adventure so far. I use paper pots too but as you described there are issues with using them. I think that they may also contribute too much carbon and suck all the nitrogen out leaving the seedlings a little yellow. I am experimenting by using seaweed solution when I water them and some chicken pellets when they are a bit bigger. I will see how they go.

  17. Fiona welcome always nice to see a new face around here. Very interesting about the paper sucking out the nitrogen as it breaks down. That makes allot of sense. I have been thinking about making the pots fatter might help with allot of problems.


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