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“Home Improvements”

Having noticed a lot of slow growth with many of my seedlings in the greenhouse I’ve decided that the low temperatures could be a problem. My greenhouse is not completely sealed and in fact the previously all glass roof was replaced with corrugated transparent perspex. This is as much for safety as it is convenience as I live in Avery windy area and roof panes have been know to be blown in before. The unfortunate side effect of the replacement is that there are gaps around the side but in particular big gaps overhead at the apex which is letting out all the heat.

A couple of day ago I managed to scrounge some loose loft insulation and jam it all up into the greenhouse roof gaps. I immediately noticed a difference with the wind and breeze dying down around the inside of the greehnhouse. Today ive been checking the tempeartures and even though its a particulhot and sunnty day, temperatures are getting up to 38 degrees Celsius inside the greenhouse. It’s so hot now I’ve been leaving the door open for ventilation. Previously the temperatures on average days were about 10 to 15 degrees. The real test will be when the weather turns again but for now my seedlings in particular the peppers and chillies are enjoying the new found heat.

Weeds and Housekeeping

I spent a good portion of this bakinghot a Bank Holiday digging through my two flowers beds trying to pull up the remains of last years disastrous foray into wildflowers. The beds ending up a jungle of weedy looking plants that all bore pretty much the same orange flower. Not much variation and messy to look at. Three years previously we had put down Miracle Gro flower mix into the then new beds to great effect. It was one of the most amazing, colourful and varied beds I’d ever seen and I was very proud to have it in my garden. Every year since has been an effort to recreate those wonderful sights and smells without any success.

I’m finding that the weeds that have now established themselves in the bed tend to take over before any flower seeds can come up and establish themselves. This year I’m getting very aggressive with the beds and the war against the weeds has ramped up. I sprayed down the beds with a herbicide to kill of everything. Two weeks later I raked off the loose dead plants and then used a fork to lift the more stubborn deep rooted ones. This week I plant to fork the entire bed deeply to try and pull out all the long sprawling and the thick deep reaching weeds roots. I’ll continue this until I’m just about to put down the new seeds.

Potting on Sunflowers

A lot more of my seeds are failing this year than I’d like to admit however the sunflowers are doing terrifically well so far. I put down seeds both inside and outside and both are coming up. The outside seeds are planted in a bed and are just now starting to peek above the soil. The seeds in the greenhouse have been shooting up fast and today had stems on average about one to two inches long. Time to move them on.

I’m using three inch pots to transfer the seedlings from seed trays. There’s many ways of pricking out seedlings from trays but I find using a teaspoon is a great way to scoop them out with the roots and surrounding soil intact.

Moving them into their new pots I pack down the new compost a little but not too hard. This is so when I lightly water the pots later the soil won’t be so loose it starts swimming around the pot. Once the seedlings get settled I’ll water from the bottom but for now I want to make sure the water gets down to the disrupted root system.

So for the minute I have 36 sunflowers potted on. It’ll be interesting to see if they all survive the process and continue to develop. I hope they do as we had a great but small batch of sunflowers last year and I’d love a big batch this year to give the mass green of the garden a complimentary lift of yellow.

Mulch Much?

For the last two years I’ve been growing some laurel hedging around the outside of my patio. The main function of the laurel is for cover on the patio from the cold and strong winds that blow through. The area ia fairly exposed to the winds so strong tall laurels should help break it up a bit.

Anyway, the area around the base of the plants has been infested with weeds and I’ve never gotten round to sorting out the mess. Until now. This year’s I’m covering the whole base with bark clippings for two reasons. Mulching can kill off and keep down the weeds and to create a nicer aesthetic around the patio area.

I’m putting down large bags of bark and spreading it quite thickly. A thin layer of mulch may as well not be there. The weeds will just come back. A thick mulch blocks out all the light and suffocated the weeds. I also make sure the bark isn’t gathered too close to the laurels base. Piling up bark around the base might end up trapping too much moisture and causing disease or mould to take a grip and destroy the plant and hence a few years of growth.

At €7 a bag and a thick spread it’ll take a few weeks to get the whole area mulchedbut I think it’ll be worth it and give the patio a clean vibrant look.

Pumpkin Problems

Was a having a bbusytime this week and it clear slipped my mind to check on my seeds that I have squirrels away ina warm room upstairs in the house. When I finally got back to them I was pretty shocked to find two pumpkins seeds had shot up to a ridiculous length one r the previous 2 or 3 days.

These two were so leggy they could have given Mo Farrah a run for his money. And yet the other three seeds hadn’t budged as far as I could see. Now i know these are probably way too leggy to properly develop into good plants but i really hate to throw out  seedling without giving it a chance. For the time being I have a spare raised bed so I pulled out the leggy seedlings and buried them deep enough so that only a small amount of the leggy stem was showing above the surface of the soil.

I doused them with a good strong tomato feed and water mix to give them a good start. No time for hardening off or clothes with these two. They’ll either sink or swim and if they sink they’ll be replaced with the next batch of seeds which I’ll probably now have to put down.

Red hot chilli pepper seedlings

After what seems like an interminable age my chilli peppers have finally sprouted. You might remember from an earlier post how I tried a little experiment with these. I topped half the seeds withmy standard compost mix and topped the other half with just a little vrrmaculite. I wanted to see if either of the toppings would make any difference to how quickly or succesfully the seeds would sprout. As you can see from the following photo there was virtually no difference whatsoever.

With the compost topping 3 of 6 seedlings came up. With the vermiculite topping 3 of 5 came up. So very little difference and a test set too small to draw any specific conclusions.

Another set of chilli seeds this time Tokyo Hot showed the Sammie results 2 seedlings for each topping type and one failure for each. From this little experiment I’ve concluded that the topping type doesn’t really matter and I’d be better saving the vermiculite for mixing with potting compost to make my standard potting mix.