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Midland Diary Discussion: 03 January 2009

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Started by: Tony Lee

Midland Diaries Issue 2 - It will be very interesting to follow your seeds over the coming months/years

Go to latest contribution by Diane Clement, 11 January 2009, 22:58. Go to bottom of this page.

Contribution from Diane Clement 04 January 2009, 11:16top / bottom of page

Some of them will certainly take months or years to germinate, and sadly, many will not make it. However, I have every confidence that we will be looking at germination of some of the cyclamen in a couple of weeks

Contribution from john lee 04 January 2009, 11:28top / bottom of page

It will be very interesting to follow your seeds over the coming months /years Diane,My first thoughts were regarding labels,With so many pots of seed some of them taking years to germinate a reliable label is important. Do you prefere the ones that take pen or pencil.The firm I used to use must have changed there method of production as they have a very smooth surface and will not take pencil.I wondered if you or others were having any problems?.(I think I may have Made a mess of the start of this reply sorry.) Tony.

Contribution from John Richards 04 January 2009, 12:12top / bottom of page
Plant labels

First let me welcome Diane as the latest diarist and congratulate her on an excellent start. I was amazed how much she has in flower in her bulb house at the moment; as I shall say in my next entry I cannot remember such a slow start to the year. At this rate many 'Christmas' bulbs will be flowering for the Shows! I know exactly what Tony means about labels. It is scandalous that many garden centres sell a package of labels and a pencil which will just NOT write on the label in any circumstances! This drove me to find a reliable label, and I strongly recommend those supplied in bulk by Anglo Scottish packaging (0141 882 5151) who sell 80 x 13 mm green labels in packs of 500 at a very reasonable price. My order by phone arrived the next day with an bill. Any pencil or pen writes on these very easily, and pencil has so far proved completely weatherproof to two years.

Contribution from Diane Clement 04 January 2009, 12:47top / bottom of page

Thanks to John and Tony for their comments. I also use the Anglo-Scottish labels. They make 8 colours and 3 sizes. I use various colours for a coding system which I will show in a future blog, and I prefer the 100 x 16mm size which gives more room for writing. They write on easily with pencil. They look more expensive than some, but are worth it as they do last. I think the minimum order is actually 1000 at present. Here's their website:

Contribution from Ian McEnery 04 January 2009, 13:01top / bottom of page

Diane Thanks again for an interesting and informative blog. I totally agree with your views on the Reading method. I keep an old black plastic sample case in a warm place in the house and seed germinates in anything from 3/8 weeks for most - this year almost 100% of pots of Cyclamen soc seed though it often works with seed sown in January. I find the "Repandum" types can't easily be forced since they seem to have their own timescale. It is better than leaving things to nature and saves up to one year in the process.

Contribution from Carl Overton 07 January 2009, 16:34top / bottom of page
Seed Compost

Diane, first of all congratulations on your new project - where do you get the time? I found they made a 'good read', very interesting and informative and all power to your elbow. My only question is about your use of JI 3 as a general rule for most of your seeds as against just bulbs. I used to make a mixture of JI 2ish for bulb seeds / bulbils with JI 3 at the bottom of the pot to last them 2/3 years before repotting but not for any other. I hope that with these comments and my first attempt to be a 'Bloggee' on your Midland Diaries that I have not crashed the whole of the AGS Website!!

Contribution from Diane Clement 07 January 2009, 20:55top / bottom of page
seed compost

Hi Mike (also known as Carl), and thanks for your contribution. John Innes (JI) is a formulation of (traditionally) loam, peat and grit with added lime and fertiliser. The only difference between JI no 1, no 2 and no 3 is that no 2 has twice the fertiliser of no 1 and no 3 had three times the fertiliser of no 1. Traditionally, no 1 is used for seed sowing, no 2 for pricking out and no 3 for growing on. This design is based on fast growing garden plants and vegetables that are potted on regularly and need more concentration of fertiliser at each stage as the plant gets bigger. I am "diluting" my JI no3 with grit, so I end up with a weaker concentration of fertiliser. If you JI 3 and JI 2 in the same pot will just diffuse together, throughout the compost, giving a sort of JI 2.5 Well done on your first attempt on the discussion board. I hope you will continue to be a Bloggee

Contribution from David Nicholson 10 January 2009, 20:56top / bottom of page

Enjoyed your Diary 2 Diane, and it prompted some questions. I note you use JI No.3 as the base for your seed compost, so far I have used JI Seed plus grit and sand-do I take it that you don't feed the seeds and rely on the fertiliser content in JI 3? I too am am an avid seed sower (note: I use the term sower, and not grower!) and sow far more seeds than I have room to raise, but I enjoy the process. My usual process is to sow 'em; water 'em; and shove 'em outside to fend for themselves, and of course some do, and then, some don't! I was interested in your regime for Cyclamen seed and I must discipline myself to give this a try. I too use one of those little plastic greenhouse frames but mine is full of trays of monocots that I haven't room for in my greenhouse. This morning I noticed it was leaning at a crazy angle and found that some of the plastic side struts that support the shelf levels had cracked and it was only the plasic cover that was stopping the whole frame from falling down. Perhaps they became brittle as a result of all the frost we have had? Might be worth while checking yours.

Contribution from Diane Clement 11 January 2009, 22:58top / bottom of page
Compost and seed pots

Hi David and thanks for your contribution. With regard to the JI, if you use JI seed plus grit and sand you are diluting the small amount of nutrient in JI seed even further. Seed doesn?t need nutrient to germinate, but it does immediately after germination. How much depends on how quickly the seedling grows. JI seed compost is really designed for plants that are soon pricked out and moved into a higher nutrient compost fairly quickly after germinating. So I expect you will need to either feed your seedlings, or prick out into a higher nutrient compost. I'm just lazy and as I can get JI no. 3 for the same price it seems easier and saves worrying about feeding and/or pricking out. I do tend to leave monocots in the pots for a couple of years. I will probably liquid feed in the second year. Other plants either grow slowly, therefore stay in the pot, and therefore don?t need (or get) more feed. Those that grow on quickly will need pricking out, therefore they will get more feed in the new compost. The seed pots I use for dicots are quite small so most things that germinate are soon moved on. The plastic upright frames are really useful, they will hold 12 standard trays with fifteen 9cm pots or eight of the small shuttle trays (double decker) with a total of 320 of the small 7cm pots. Do make sure they are sited where they can?t blow over as they are not particularly stable. I have three of these frames ? one is a wider version (no, don't worry, they're not all filled with seed!). Mine have coated metal side struts, and they don?t last forever. Last year, one of mine did rust and I had to replace it, but there are cheap suppliers from the internet. In John?s diary, he asked about whether or not to cover seed pots and thought there could be an issue with keeping the pots watered. I actually find the opposite is true, as the pots don?t dry out very fast as they have a plastic cover. The little shuttle pots are sitting on a capillary mat which makes watering very easy. I do leave the front open most of the time. The pots are certainly subject to all weather conditions and have all been frozen solid during the last week, so there is no problem about vernalisation!

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