Monday, March 26, 2012

Potting up seedlings

If you are a regular visitor to this blog you will recall that this year we are trying to advance the vegetable growing season. We are thinking about investing in a greenhouse but until that day, all seedlings are raised in a small propagator against a south facing wall.

The seeds were sown in January and have been slightly slow to grow due to the colder weather we have experienced by the coast this year but eventually they sprang to life and needed potting up in a soil mixture we mix ourselves at La Pasera.

Our potting compost mixture varies according to the specific vegetable requirements in terms of drainage, moisture retention and fertility but the basic mixture contains a proportion of our own heavy clay soil, leaf mould we produce from the leaves we collect from the garden and perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage. If the are to be grown in the pots for more than a month, we add some fertility to the compost in the way of organic fertilizers. Our aim is to avoid the use of commercially produced compost and this year we are only using it for seed germination.

Our home-made compost was recently used to pot up the tomatoes, chilli peppers and Isla pepper (a fleshy pepper variety that does well in the cooler northern climate and that tastes sweet even when still green before it ripens).

In relation to the tomatoes, this year we are growing the Alicante tomato that we like and does well in spite of the high humidity we experience during Summer - being so close to the coast we can experience sea mists which can devastate tomato crops if not careful. In addition we are also trialling three further varieties of tomatoes that are supposed to be very tasty and that someone sent us in a seed exchange. This varieties include Marmande, Black Krimea and Ramallet a tomatoe variety from Mallorca that you harvest while the fruits are still green and hang up as if they were onions for them to ripen over several months. It will be interesting to see how they do with the high humidity. We will be spraying the tomato plants with a horsetail mixture and copper sulphate in an attempt to minimize the possibility of blight. So far the plants continue to grow slowly and over the next few weeks we will prepare the soil were the tomatoes will be planted and grown under partial cover. All this talk of tomatoes makes me start thinking of tomato and garlic or tomato and basil salads....Mmmm.


  1. Do you spray the horsetail mix on the plants?
    The only experience I've had is of treating the white mould that comes from a damp atmosphere with dry roots. Then I'd spray that on the soil, and foliar feed with nettle or comfrey to boost growth and health.

  2. It is interesting how we use the same plants in slightly different ways. We use comfrey and nettle as a liquid fertilizer.
    The fresh horse tail is left in water (plenty of vegetable matter covered with water) for a few days and after straining through a cloth we spray it over the plants that are susceptible to fungal attacks: tomatoes, onions, marrows, cucumber and peach trees.
    We find this treatment is fairly effective but you need to apply it regularly, about once a week.


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