Vegetable Seedlings – July 2013

Raised Bed Dimensions

Having actually worked on the Square Foot Gardening bed now, I understand why the recommended width is 4 feet – it really is difficult reaching into the centre of our 5 foot bed – it’s just out of comfortable reach.

Seedlings

It’s been three weeks since the first seeds went in.

My only successes so far are the snow and sugar snap peas, bush beans, and the tomato.

Peas and bush beans

Peas at the rear, and bush beans just starting to come up.

And this morning, I found the first tiny signs of the red chilli and capsicum. Woo hoo!

As each seedling gets big enough, I mulch around it with seaweed.

Nothing else has germinated. This is despite my running out each morning to check, seeing no growth, and yelling “Hurry up!!!”.

They do say you should talk to your plants.

There could be a few reasons for this dismal failure:

  • I planted the seeds too deeply
  • The seeds are too old
  • They’ve been dug up by cats
  • Vegetables are seasonal in the tropics
  • I’ve over/under-watered
  • I’m too impatient, and they will eventually germinate

As the germination period stated on the seed packets passes, I’m planting a second round of seeds, being careful this time to follow the “how deep to plant” instructions. If these seeds also fail to germinate, I’ll throw them out and buy new ones, as they’re probably too old.

I’ve replanted in the squares where the cats dug, and have taken steps to deter any future digging – more details to follow.

Other than that, I need to curb my impatience.

I’m hoping the reason isn’t that I’m a terrible sower of seeds. That would be a major problem!

Seedling Identification

Having never grown vegetables before, I don’t know what each seedling should look like. Consequently, as little green shoots started to appear, I wasn’t sure whether they were seedlings, or weeds that I needed to pull out. Sadly, they kept turning out to be weeds.

When the seeds do germinate (ever the optimist!), I’ll keep a photographic record of the seedlings, which I can refer to next season.

Seed Varieties

I’ve recently discovered a French brand called Tropica, which is specifically for the tropics.

For example, their iceberg lettuce is bred to be resistant to heat and bolting, and can be grown all year, whereas the normal iceberg will bolt to seed as soon as the weather starts to heat up. Sounds promising.

The lettuce seeds are dyed blue, which is a great idea, as they’re very small and normally hard to see once they’re on the soil. Why don’t all seed suppliers do that?

I’ve also bought seeds from Pick ‘n Pay – a South African brand called Starke Ayres. They have vegetables that I haven’t seen here before, like bush beans (dwarf beans).

Herbs

I think I made a mistake by mulching around the coriander and the thyme cuttings. After checking online, I found they don’t like to be kept too wet – they tend to rot. I should check these things earlier in the process.

So I’ve removed the mulch, and planted a second square of thyme cuttings.

The coriander is struggling but hanging in there, so I’ll wait and see what happens.

The spring onions are growing, but some are beginning to flower. As I need them, I’ll harvest the green parts, and leave the bulbs in the ground and let them re-grow. I’ll also sow the seeds from the flower heads when they mature.

I had no luck with the basil – I tried to root some in water, and planted others directly into the bed – they all died. I won’t bother trying that again.

Instead I bought basil and dill plants from Espace Maison, who have a good range of herbs at the moment.

I also bought some Chinese celery from there. It has very skinny stalks and a very strong (and slightly unpleasant when eaten raw) taste – but it’ll do for cooking until the celery starts growing.

Celery

Celery in front of more peas

Parsley is the herb I use most of, but the seeds are doing zilch.

Hurry up!!!!

Strawberries

I bought 12 strawberry plants from Grand Baie nursery, and planted 4 per square. I had to remove most of the soil from around the roots in order to fit them into the squares.

StrawberriesGrowing strawberries in the SFG bed requires you to cut off any runners that grow, allowing the plant to put all its energy into fruit production rather than into the runners.

I grew them in hanging baskets last year, and while we got some lovely berries initially, the plants got stressed and then died because the soil in the baskets dried out too quickly and too often, due to the wind and heat.

Once they start fruiting, I’ll need to protect them, as the mynah birds also found them delicious.

Maintenance of the SFG Bed

Finally, there’s a low-maintenance part of the garden – there’s not much to do other than daily watering, a little bit of weeding, and yelling.

Anyway, three weeks in, and it’s a case of so far, so good, if a bit slow.

Barring an insect attack or a freak cyclone, we could be harvesting our first home-grown veggies in a matter of weeks.

Well, maybe a pea or two.

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4 thoughts on “Vegetable Seedlings – July 2013

  1. Hello there. I have a small home garden. I’m looking for seeds such as kumquat, asparagus etc. Any idea where I can find these in mauritius. Thanks

    • Hi Syd – sorry, the answer is no.
      I usually buy seeds when I’m overseas, or ask visitors to bring them for me.
      But before you get too excited – I haven’t had a huge amount of success with seeds that aren’t suited to a tropical/sub-tropical climate, so even if you do get them, they may not germinate, the seedling may not survive, or the plant may really struggle in the heat and humidity, and not thrive.
      Having said that, I’d rather be blindly optimistic and keep sowing those seeds!
      Good luck, and if you do find them here, please let me know.
      Thanks,
      Veronique

  2. “a little bit of weeding, and yelling”, that’s hilarious. Every year is a learning experience. I found a planting calendar for my area that has been very valuable to help me learn the timing for all of the different veggies, I wonder if there is one available for your island? God bless!

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