Nursing your seedlings and preparing for battle
IF your window sills or green house is still full of little seedlings and plants, now is the time to harden them off and prepare their final growing spot outside.Some plants need less warmth and protection from the weather or predators then others so make sure that you choose the right time location and protection for each of them.If the soil temperature has reached around 12degrees C and there is no danger of frost even the more tender plants like cucumbers, tomatoes and courgette can be planted outside or you could put the seeds of French beans ,runner beans , beetroot, sweet corn seeds straight outside .(cover with fleece if the nights are still chilly)
All of the following seeds can be put straight in the ground as well beetroot, carrots, lettuces and salad leaves, oriental leaves and cabbages, radishes
The last chance to get sprouting broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower and Cabbages and Peas under way is now ( May) and already on the late side.For Cucumber Courgette and Squashes and Chillies I recommend starting them off in doors or in a green house to speed up germination and give them a change to produce fruit before the growing season comes to an end in autumn.Remember to prepare the ground as described in last article for the seeds.
TRANSPLANTING THE SEEDLINGS
Make sure you have hardened the seedlings off first before transferring them from the inside of a green house to their final growing spot.In biodynamic gardening you would choose the “planting time”, or descending moon phase (shown in dark blue on the calendar “In Tune with the Moon”) to make it easier for the roots to connect with the soil .
It is less stress full for the plants to be transferred on a cooler day or in the evening rather on a hot sunny day.
For the best days use a leaf day and descending moon phase for salads, cabbages, and all other leafy crops, a fruit day descending moon phase for all fruiting vegetables like beans, cucumber, courgette, pumpkin tomatoes and squashes, root days descending moon phase for all root crops, if following the biodynamic growing calendar.
TIPS For all crops which prefer lots of moisture and nutrition,(or if you want to save time and water!) prepare the site by digging a trench or planting whole, fill with water, let the water drain away and fill with water again. After the water has drained line the trench/whole with wet newspaper before adding good quality compost.After planting, water and mulch to keep the compost moist. To make sure the water goes straight to the roots, if you have to water during hot dry periods, you can bury and empty pot next to the plant in the mulch and water there.
PROTECTING YOUR CROP
After all that work of preparing the soil ,sowing,pricking out, transplanting, mulching…..
It would be a shame if you lost everything to the slugs, birds, mice, rabbits, deer or other predators so be aware and know your enemy!
It is always a good idea to have a few extra plants available as it is more then likely that you are going to loose a few things to some sort of wild life . In biodynamic or organic gardening there is NO space for slug pellets, insecticides, pesticides, herbicides….. as these are dangerous to other beneficial wild life and harmful to lots of friendly and necessary life in the soil and above the ground. In biodynamic and organic gardening the gardener tries to achieve a good balance between beneficial insects and plants and the ones which are damaging and unwanted.
In order to protect our crops, we choose to have a wide variety of crops and use “companion planting” as well as crop rotation to minimize the danger of attracting big numbers of certain
predators . The smell of some plants (like onions and garlic) put off carot flies, the smell of tomato leaves is disliked by the cabbage fly……
To protect from birds ( brassicas, peas) use netting or hang up CD’s, anything which would make a noise or strings and ribbons can discourage the birds to feed on your plants.
Rabbits can be locked out with a rabbit fence (which needs to be dug in) or they also dislike the smell of vinegar. So if you soak some old pieces of cloth in vinegar that might be the answer to unwanted visitors like rabbits and cats.
Carrot flies dislike any smell of garlic and onion and don’t like windy areas.
Caterpillars can’t stand the smell of tomatoes and Tansy.(you also can spray with a tea made of tomato leaves or tansy )
Black flies are discouraged if you keep the ground wet or try to grow spinach next to your crop.
Nematodes (tiny parasites,worms) Buy powder and dissolve in water , works for 6 weeks over and under ground. (organic way)
Click here for Organic Slug control methods