The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Potting up the seedlings

Borage seedling

I've never grown borage before, but I should have guessed from the larger seed size that the plant wasn't one of those slow-growing herbs. While thyme, oregano, and chamomile planted in the middle of February are still so tiny that you can hardly imagine them growing out of their starter cells, the borage planted ten days later seemed to be too big for its home as soon as the cotyledons emerged. Time to pot up!

Potting up

I like to keep the nutrient levels very low in my seed-starting trays to get the babies to work on roots while also minimizing problematic soil fungi. But bigger pots means it's time to mix in well-rotted horse manure along with the stump dirt or potting soil, at a ratio of one to one. A friend of Mark's introduced the idea of potting up into plastic cups with holes drilled in the bottom, which is a great innovation since the pots are cheap and you're able to keep an eye on root growth. I have a feeling our borage will require yet one more round of potting up before we're allowed to set them out in the middle of May, and the clear pots will help me ensure they don't grow root bound in the interim.

Technical note: Some of you probably noticed we were unable to make new posts for the last 24 hours. I'm afraid that comments you made during that time period may have been lost --- sorry! I think I got to read them all, at least, although I'm especially sorry that Brandy's comment about placenta can't be shared with the world....

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Okay Anna. I am tired of weak seedlings and stunted plants. I am ready to do this the right way, even if that means more work and more potting up. Can you direct me to which of your books will help me learn to do it the right way?
Comment by Kathleen Mon Mar 9 18:02:34 2015
Kathleen --- I'm afraid I don't have any ebook on the subject --- maybe one of these days! I have to admit that my seedlings often end up sad because I refuse to pay for the electricity of putting a light on them, and there's only so much light coming into the windows in the winter. It's a tricky tightrope between keeping them warm (but not too warm), damp (but not too damp), well-fertilized (but not too well-fertilized), and sunny (but not too sunny). Honestly, I prefer starting seeds under quick hoops if the weather cooperates, but this year and last have been less than cooperative.
Comment by anna Mon Mar 9 18:44:23 2015

Thanks so much for the ideas. We've been covered in snow here in Virginia for 3 weeks. We started our tomato seeds 2 weeks ago and they are already up 2 inches. We've order more seeds that should be arriving any day to get some of our other crops started for our growing season. I'm going to try starting grape cuttings to expand our grape wine. Any luck with this?


Comment by Amy Wed Mar 11 22:12:57 2015
Amy --- I've had great luck with rooting grape cuttings. They're extremely easy! The hard part, at least on our farm, is choosing varieties that will produce without chemicals in our high-fungus and high-Japanese beetle environment. So my one piece of advice is --- try several varieties before propagating any to figure out which ones work well in your area. Then you can multiply them like mad and have a vineyard for next to nothing.
Comment by anna Thu Mar 12 10:04:19 2015

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