Saturday, 20 February 2010

Tubes, compost and planting.......

This must be my favourite moment of the year. The time to start planting, when all the looking through seed catalogues and trailing around the garden centres comes into it's own. When you pick up your first toilet roll middle and fill it with compost!! "What was that last bit" I hear you say, yes, you may think I'm mad but I've found this is a foolproof way to get my seedlings started. I have lovely friends and family saving me the middles from their toilet rolls and kitchen rolls all year. I squash them flat and store in bundles in all sorts of containers all year round ready for use at planting time. Then in February I get them out, cut the toilet rolls tubes in half and the kitchen roll tubes into quarters......... and then pop them into my seed trays and saved plastic trays from meat and things, and then fill them with compost. This year should be the last year we have to buy in our compost supplies, by next year we will have the vermiculture business in full swing and that will provide our own supplies, fresh from the farm.
Once the cardboard tubes are full of compost I put one or two seeds into each one, water them well and I try to label each one (last year some went unlabelled by accident and we had to wait to see what we got), this year I am making a determined effort to label each tray and keep the labels with the plants throughout their journey.
As the weather is still unpredictable I am giving the trays the added protection of another sheet of polythene even though they are all safely in the polytunnel.
And waiting in the wings for tomorrow.........the next lot of empty tubes waiting to be filled.
The beauty of this system is that the seedlings never need to be handled, the toilet roll tubes disintegrate before the plants need any extra space and best of all........the whole method costs no money. I am recycling cardboard, saving money on buying little pots and getting more viable plants as handling is kept to the minimum so the root system can fully develop in its own little space.
The plants can be potted on to bigger plantpots just by popping the cardboard tube into a larger plantpot or the tube can go straight into the ground outside. It has proved itself time and time again and is one system that I will always use.
Over the weekend I have planted peas, beetroot, spring onions, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, radish and mixed leaves, please don't forget I have been able to plant these early because they are all in the polytunnel and the temperature in there is even now quiet a few degrees higher than outside. Indeed yesterday briefly we reach a temperature of 23 degrees, and boy was it good working in just a sweatshirt rather than layers of woolies and jackets!!
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Today the snow is back but hopefully inside the PT it will stay above freezing, I will be keeping an eye on my new thermometer just to check, if it does another layer of protection will be added to my little babies!
Here's to a happy planning and planting week.
Sue xx

7 comments:

  1. this is fabulous Sue - it must give you such pleasure I truly admire you xx

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  2. Hi Sue, we do the same thing, particularly for plants that don't like having their roots disturbed like sweetcorn. I think we'll have to wait until March/April to grow our seedling though! :-)

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  3. Good on you, Sue, you certainly work hard and I can't wait to see the fruits of your labours! I did try the toilet roll thingy but mine went a bit mouldy?
    Hen x

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  4. You are a worker !! I think you are doing so well, and thanks for this amazing idea.. I am going to pass it on to my brother, he loves growing too!

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  5. Oh what I wouldn't do for a polytunnel (sigh).

    jess x

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  6. I want a polytunnel! What a great collection of goodies all ready and prepared to produce lovely crops for you again this year.
    Sarah x

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  7. What a great idea! Happy planting,
    Warm Wishes,
    Cally x

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