The seedling situation (an update)

After my last post on raising seedlings I thought I’d report back and share my progress. Though I love Lolo Houbein’s idea of the cardboard toilet rolls, it was ultimately unsuccessful here. Those in temperate and cooler climates might have more of a chance but Brisbane’s bright winter sunshine and warm breezes dried out the seedlings faster than I could tend to them (which was pretty fast). Onto the compost heap they went.

My next attempt has involved 2L milk cartons in their dozens. This idea came from Linda Woodrow, the patron saint of home permaculture. She suggests cutting the tops and bottoms from each carton such that the pot can be removed without disturbing the roots and becomes a protective barrier when the seedling is planted out. After some initial success with marigold seeds, I gathered every milk carton I could lay my hands on (coffee stalls at the markets proving the richest source) before painstakingly trimming and sterilising each one. The method does involve lots of potting mix (a potential disadvantage) but if you mix it yourself using lovely mature compost your efforts will ultimately bless your garden.

Though the lead light window greenhouse certainly was charming, it gave way to something much less glamarous: polystyrene. Styrofoam boxes have a number of advantages which make up for their lack of chic: they’re free, they’re easy to sterilise and they’re wonderfully insulating, keeping a lovely constant temperature for those little roots to thrive. During our recent sojourn in Sydney my seedlings were left to the care of our house sitters, Nikolas and Delphine, who were my only hope for an early spring planting. As we pulled up at home after six weeks away, my heart sank. Not one blade of grass remained green. My peas had suffered and given up long ago. The bindis were the only things still thriving. Then I climbed the stairs and was greeted with these:

Bring on spring I say!

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3 Responses to “The seedling situation (an update)”


  1. 1 Arthur September 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    The old motto “if at first you don’t succeed then try, try again springs to mind Ally. You have applied it and received your just rewards. I’m proud of you! And now, about those brush turkeys……… Just keep the old motto in mind and you will defeat them too.

  2. 2 Sam October 1, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Neat idea! I will be keeping my milk cartons from now on. Can’t believe there is such a significant difference in climate when it feels like you don’t live that far away. Brisbane definitely gets a head start on the summer crops! Sam xox

  3. 3 Lesley October 1, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Well well well, this is certainly a success story. Good on Nikolas and Delphine. They were great caretakers. All that effort has reaped its own reward. Cant wait to see them next week xox


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A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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