Friday, February 17, 2012

Cardboard Roll Seedlings

Problem: If I start small seedlings directly in the garden I get a high fatality rate due to snails or hot days when the seedlings are too small to take it, but lettuce, root vegs…well most things really, grow better if they don't have their roots disturbed by transplanting.

Solution: Half toilet paper rolls placed on a seedling tray, filled with seedling mix, 1-3 seeds planted into each one. That way I can get the seedlings established in good soil without weed competition and plant them out to ideal spacing roll and all, minimal or no root disturbance.I've grown flower seedlings, carrots and cucumbers this way, and am currently planting winter leafy greens and brassicas (cabbage and broccoli family). 

A cut down soft drink bottle makes an excellent funnel to fill the rolls. As plants are set out in the garden I can add fresh rolls to the tray, and any that don't germinate I replant with something else. Preferably a recognisably different plant so that I can tell if the older seed has decided to come up belatedly.

I don't use snail pellets, because we've got native frogs, bluetongue lizards and lots of birds around our garden. If they eat the poisoned snails it can in turn kill them. Instead I put food tins with the top and bottom cut out around the seedlings as a barrier. Some still get eaten, but it cuts the losses dramatically. If I'm really determined to protect something I put some mesh e.g. flyscreen or bits of stocking over the top of the tin. This lettuce seedling is one I've just planted complete with it's cardboard roll "pot". 
Now my remaining problem is sourcing enough cardboard rolls!

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