Free planting vessels or state of the art equipment. CS is experimenting with seed germination devices.Posted by Fiona Nevile in General care | 8 comments
As someone said on a forum – root trainers are the marmite of the horticultural world – you either love them or hate them.
I’ve been thinking about testing out root trainers out for some time. The price put me off initially and then I reckoned that if we get better sweet peas and beans I’d soon recoup the cost, especially as they are reusable.
I must admit I was a bit disappointed when they arrived. They seemed awfully flimsy. But once that are packed with compost and placed in the rack they seem quite sturdy. On another forum someone pointed out that they can be repaired easily with electrical tape. Most people who are enthusiastic about them have had them for at least five years. Only time will tell if they are just a snazzier looking version of their humble cousin – the loo roll.
They take up far less space which is a bonus. At this time of year space is at a premium. An area of an ordinary seed tray holds 32 long cells – you can get short cells but I reckon that the longer ones are a much better investment. I got my root trainers from Unwins. You can also get them here.
I decided to experiment and grow sweet peas in the root trainers and also in 5” pots to see whether the root trainers give the plants a better root system and produce stronger plants. The germination rate has been the same in the pots and the root trainers. In a month or so we’ll have a better idea how the two methods compare.
I’m also experimenting with Jiffy7 pellets (35mm). They are now available in coir rather than peat. I’ve had good results with them so far and grew quite a few hardy annuals and perennials in them over the winter. Investing in these used to seem a bit of an extravagance to me but last year I spent hours and hours pricking out and potting on seedlings. Hours that could be well spent elsewhere in the garden.
Admittedly we grow around two thousand plants a year. A lot are raised in seedbeds but quite a few need the higher temperatures of the electric propagator to germinate. The potting on of these Jiffy 7 raised seedlings will be easier with far less root damage and hopefully sturdier plants. Another benefit is that quite a few can be packed into the electric propagator and being separate units they can be whipped out immediately germination takes place. Last year I was cutting up the trays as seeds germinated and was left with rather useless chunks of cells at the end of the season. Incidentally I bought cheap green cell seed trays from QD and they were just a one season wonder – so a real waste of money. The sturdier black ones, with a bit of care, can last for several years.
I tried sowing peas in an old length of guttering the year before last. In the confined space in the green house I kept on tripping over them so last year I tried another method which worked really well. I cut 4 pint plastic milk bottles in half (from top to bottom) and threw away the handle side. The remainder made containers that are great for sowing peas in the greenhouse or polytunnel. I used multipurpose compost and put a piece of glass over the containers to speed up germination which was pretty fast. The roots of the baby peas created a mat that kept the soil intact when they were moved to grow on in a border.
I repeated the sowings at two week intervals which gave us an extended season of fresh peas and crisp raw shoots for sandwiches. I sowed Hurst Green Shaft a delicious variety that has a long cropping season and also freezes well.
Have you tried root trainers? If so what did you think of them? Have you a patent method for germinating seeds that will grow into healthy plants? I love to know.
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