My new mini greenhouse was no sooner up than it was put through its paces, battling wind and weather. Not even attached to the shed yet, it kept quite firm. A few other things were thrown around, the wooden cage over a raised bed had been blown off and two obelisks, temporarily stuck in a bed were blown over. I had thought of making them a more permanent fixture in the shallower, raised bed but it’s just been proven, it wouldn’t withstand the wind. This will be a ‘Plan B’ case.
I developed my habit of sowing tomato seeds from middle to end of February because I felt that was the time that worked for me. I also discovered that sowing the seeds in coir, was much cleaner and lighter to work with as seeds will germinate in many different types of medium. I bought the coir bricks with added nutrients which would be an added benefit to give the little seedlings a kick-start. As soon as the tomato seedlings had developed their first true leaves and were looking strong enough to be repotted, I potted them into a reasonable quality tomato compost, in small drinking cups. Again this worked well and it wasn’t long before the little plants were ready to be moved into the greenhouse. Generally most of them came on in leaps and bounds and it wasn’t long before I was either planting them up in their forever home, or offering my excess plants to anyone who could give them a home.
This year hasn’t gone so well sadly, I can no longer get coir from the same supplier and with little information, I suspect that the bricks I got this time do not have added nutrients. Our weather has not been good and since I rely on heated windowsill propagators, I switched them off because although the heat was there, the daylight was very poor, so I hoped without the heat and much light, it would slow the seeds down. They struggled a bit though and most of them became leggy as a result. I had repotted some, then decided to try repotting the others whose true leaves had yet to appear. That was a big mistake but added to that, due to the pandemic and our garden centres being closed, I bought compost from a supermarket. It was a lot cheaper than I usually pay and it was very woody so would probably be unsuitable for encouraging young seedlings. They either came to a halt in growth or they just flopped, prostrate across the pot. I don’t normally give up easily but after a day or two and no further sign of life, I started to re-sow a select few. I will reuse the coir but water them with a solution of hydrogen peroxide, just to give them an extra boost, it will also help to kill off any pathogens in the seeds and coir.
I have in the past, sprouted nasturtium seeds in zip bags of perlite and hydrogen peroxide. It works well and seeds seem to sprout a lot quicker. The solution I’m using is one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts water and hanging them up kept them out of harm’s way and they weren’t disturbed.
The problem of light is still there and only one windowsill propagator can fit my window, so I put my recycling cap on and took a narrow shelving unit and with a little bit of alteration, I removed the shelves, turned it on its side and it now gives me a two-tier shelf for each of the propagators. It also means I can reclaim some of my dining table back. For a few weeks of the year it gets lost under my enthusiasm to grow everything all at once.
My next move is to re-sow some of the seeds in deeper coir, which should give them more stability at the early stages in putting their energy into building up some strength, instead of reaching out too far to get help from the sun, which hasn’t been too obliging. I will wait for those true leaves and then repot them into good quality compost. If all works out better this time, then it won’t be long before I get some healthy plants to move into the greenhouse. My house and greenhouse are full of ‘Plan Bs’.