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!