Saturday, 27 April 2013

No more sulking ...

It's not only people who can sulk,  plants can sulk like moody adolescents ! This year mine seemed to sulk more than most.

It was all due to the weather, I blame it all on the weather. The cold early Spring weather, coupled with low light levels, meant that seeds were slow to germinate and even slower to 'get away'. Even those in the propagator didn't perform at their usual rate. Germination was slow in there, and the percentage of germinated seeds was a lot lower than normal.

I sowed some Ricinus Communis and they languished in the propagator for weeks before deigning to show green,and only about 40% bothered at all. How's that for sulking! I haven't checked it out, but I have a feeling that the seed just rotted in the cold, damp compost.

All the others, to be fair, did eventually throw off their bad moods and make an appearance, but once they arrived they stayed small for a VERY long time.

This season I have sown various seeds  -  Delphinium 'Pacific Giant', Cosmos 'Cosmonaut', Dahlia 'Bishop's Children', Tomatoes ('Tigerella', 'Sweet Baby' and 'Harbinger'), Chillis, Peppers, Aubergines, Butternut Squash, Runner Beans, countless Sweet Peas and Courgettes.  I started in early February with the Chillies, Aubergines and Peppers as they need a long growing season to mature and bear fruit. The squash, beans and courgettes I sowed only about ten days ago and they are all romping away in very good humour.

Here are some 'before' and 'after' photos, to compare growth rates. The 'after' photos show the effect that warmer weather and higher light levels have had on growth, as most of these young plants are now nearly where I would expect them to be. All the seeds , except squash, beans and courgettes, were started in the propagator, and kept in the conservatory with heat on cold nights. The temperature did not dip below about 7 degrees.

Now, that's more like it ! They need repotting now, as the roots are starting to come out of the bottom of the pot, and they are crowding each other out.

Again, they are asking to be potted on so they can steam ahead. Because they are crowded they are a trifle leggy, but when I pot them on I will just set them much deeper in the pot, to diminish any bare stem.

These poor little tomatoes, I have never known such erratic germination. They nearly all came in the end, and, as usual, I have got enough tomato plants to start a shop !

Hmmm, not very proud of these ! They are still little tiddlers compared to other years ! I know they will catch up, but I hope they are not late to fruit because of this slow start.

By comparison, these Courgettes were planted only about ten days ago so they have not been affected by the cold, and have had a good start. They have not had their growth slowed down and are healthy and strong.

Likewise the Butternut Squash. Full steam ahead !

But the Zinnias are still sulking ...


  1. Enjoyed your post, have you tried putting a propogator lid over the zinnias. It only took a few days for mine to show and if you looked at my videos you will see they are growing very well.

  2. Thanks for your comments Julie. The Zinnias were IN the propagator ! They usually pop up very quickly, but not in this case. I think all hope is gone! I will pop over and watch your vids and see if I can pick up any tips :-)

  3. There has been sulking in my greenhouse too. Dont leave your Ricinus too long before you pot them up, I ignored mine for a while and they just gave up on me. The second lot have been potted up and are looking a lot happier

    1. I must do them asap ! I know what you mean, Helen, they don't appreciate rubbing shoulders with anyone else! I try and pot them up several times so that by the time they are ready to plant out, they are in nice big pots, and have developed a good root system. Do you grow them every year ? We love them and have grown them for years, but I must admit, with varying degrees of success, depending on the weather.

  4. I started just a small set of tomato/peppers seeds under grow lights on my kitchen counter because I don't have a greenhouse. I used little coir pots and even though I had to water them more often, I had no damping off, which has claimed my seedlings before. :( I just started my zinnias today. The packet said my cultivar had a low germination rate so I hope they're not duds.

    Try your zinnias again. They like to be warm. :o)

  5. Oh dear ! I thought my Zinnias would be snug enough in the propagator ! Your grow lights sound interesting as presumably they give off both light and heat . We had low light levels as well as low temperatures, which is a bad combination! Do let me know how well yours germinate !


All Gardening Sites