10th April 2017 at 8:28 am #38969
One thing I notice comparing your pictures and my plants is that yours always grow faster, be that due to your greenhouse plus hotbed, better light, superior compost/seeds or whatever.
I do wonder I am effectively transplanting out younger plants than you in developmental terms, even if they might be the same age?
As an example, I sowed a back up tray of Boltardy beetroot clumps on March 13th in case the February sowing failed (it has not). Four weeks after sowing, I have two true leaves but not much bigger than the cotyledons.
Would you say that you transplant beetroots with two small true leaves, two large true leaves or even four true leaves?
It may afford more uniform understanding of plant development at transplantation, rather than mere age, since everybody has different sites, temperatures, hours of sunshine etc…..10th April 2017 at 7:52 pm #38972
Hi Rhys, I am surprised to hear this, perhaps my green fingers have more energy than I had realised, or more likely it’s that Homeacres has such good light all around, perhaps the hotbed too, even though it’s small and plants are rarely on there for more than two weeks.
Also in London your nights are warmer.
Nonetheless I shall include some mentions of plant size.
Yet it’s also good to plant small plants so yours still sound viable for planting out.10th April 2017 at 9:01 pm #38978
Whilst it is variable across different vegetables, I find for example onions with two true leaves transplant better than with one or none; beetroot for me do best when the first pair of true leaves are well developed; spinach have done best at 4 or more true leaves; cabbage best with at least three true leaves.
The other observation of interest is which veg thrive under fleece and which prefer direct sunlight. Obviously no killing plants through exposure to frost, but onions, shallots and salad onions prefer no fleece in 2017 up here, whereas lettuce, spinsch, beetroot have done much better under fleece. Cabbage do well under fleece untill nibbling occurs. Radish, turnip grrminate best under fleece. Carrot and parsnip no evidence yet but parsnip did great under fleece last year.11th April 2017 at 4:37 am #38979
Nonetheless, for many I feel that counting true leaves is complicating things a little. Also some composts run out of nutrients before an “ideal” stage which is another reason to plant small.
My onions prefer fleece, and it stops rabbit nibbles.11th April 2017 at 9:14 am #38984
I can’t add anything useful to this discussion except to say I find the decision when to transplant the most difficult part of growing, and possibly the least explained.11th April 2017 at 8:37 pm #38992
Thanks for your observation Dalesman. Sounds like it is worth explaining more but since every garden, potting compost, climate and situation is different, it’s all too easy to be bogged down in details. I shall put a few seedling photos in my next blog at least.12th April 2017 at 8:30 am #39000
This is interesting Rhys, I have also noticed that your seedlings grow much faster than mine Charles. I use Sylva Grow compost so that should be OK plus a heated sand bench. I attribute it to light as the sun doesn’t hit my greenhouse until about 10am.
13th April 2017 at 12:30 pm #39008
- This reply was modified 8 months ago by plantmark.
Mark I wonder if it is the intense heat of the hotbed. Actually warmer than many electric propagators, and warmer than recommended e.g. onions are supposed not to germinate well above 20C but mine were 30C and raced away.
I discuss this in my next update and with some photos.14th April 2017 at 7:01 pm #39024
Sowing medium as well as bottom heat seem to make the biggest difference.
Trying to start to early with insufficient bottom heat followed by inappropriate water practices make for most failures and slowest growth.
This year I used an electric propagator for the first time and left the lid on for to long and this held to seedlings back ,Slight leaf scorch.
With hot beds I have never covered the seed trays and have always had better results.
Which leads me to two questions
does everyone using hot beds leave the seed trays uncovered?.
What growing medium do you use?.
As I believe leaf stage is complicated strength of roots must be the starting point.14th April 2017 at 8:16 pm #39026
I have used Klaasman -Deilmann compost, except for tomatoes (which do grow as fast as Charles’plants), where I use JI seed/1/2 during potting up. germination has been very rapid, much quicker than with other composts. It is what happens after that seems slower.
Quite a few plants have heating underneath for germination (especially onions). All seedlings sown before April live indoors at 20C for two weeks at least. The peas I sowed April 6th live in a lean-to (tmax 18-24, tmin 8-12) and are 50% germinated after 9 days.
The things which have been most noticeably slower (lettuce, beetroot, cabbage, spinach): some sown later than Charles (lettuce and back up beetroot), some maybe same time or earlier (spinach, cabbage, first beetroot sowing).
As for watering, many earlier plants simply had rainfall (which was plentiful until early March) once living outside during the day. Lately, with no rainfall it is watering every 3 days as Charles has suggested, except when we had the hot days when daily watering happened.
As an aside, watering the 31st March carrot sowing daily just to keep the surface damp has seen very good germination within two weeks. Watering only happens if surface is drying and is just one back and forward using the finest rose I have.14th April 2017 at 10:23 pm #39029
Your observation are not dissimilar to mine.
I would imagine temperature to be the biggest factor with my seedings.
Cool nights and warm days going from cosy propagator to more open greenhouse/ outside.
Checks growth. I plant under fleece but I am sure my greenhouse fluctuates to much and the damage is all ready done.
I am interested to know if all your later sowing do better. I’ve never sown so early and wonder if I need to adjust my setup to accommodate early sowings or just wait until after March 10.
Leanto greenhouse south facing no shading plants moved to 10 by 8 east west facing.
Seedlings grow much better in the smaller greenhouse but my propagator is in the middle leanto.
Never used klassman deilman. Do use JI compost and have mixed results.15th April 2017 at 7:21 am #39064
Helpful discussion here! I hope my update clarifies a few things.
Somerset is mild though we do have frosts too – three gourd frosts in the past week, ice on the car etc. Sunlight by day mitigates that, it has been a fine spring so far.15th April 2017 at 9:14 am #39068
Charles, you can tell your write a lot about gardening if your auto correction changes ground to gourd for you 🙂 thanks for the update. Interesting discussions alround.18th April 2017 at 1:43 pm #39110
Charles, since my previous post my Cucumelons have advanced significantly. The plant on the left was grown on a heated sand bench @ 70 degrees and covered with fleece at night and the plant on the right has been growing in the cold greenhouse.
The bottom heat shows a significant difference.18th April 2017 at 6:30 pm #39119
I’m wondering what will happen to the plant grown on the heated sand if at planting out time the temperature is significantly lower than 70F, even allowing for a hardening off period. Wont growth slow? Wont the plant grown in the cold greenhouse then catch up?
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