Saturday, 24 March 2012

Stopping The Rot

Saturday 24th March 2012
Pea soup
Actually, my research tells me that a pea souper refers to an industrial smog. In fact, it's called a pea souper precisely because it's not like the white fog of rural areas. You learn something every day.

The Bluebird
One of the blue eggs has hatched! If it's a girl, it will grow up to lay more blue eggs for us. If it's a boy, it should be very tasty in the autumn. Cream Legbars are autosexing - nothing rude, just means you can tell boys and girls apart as chicks... except, I can't remember how and I don't have any others to compare! For the moment, this very chirpy chick is living in a plastic box with a light bulb to keep it warm. None of the other eggs is showing any signs of life. Apparently they usually pip once one has been born. It will be disappointing if we only get one.




The Rot Sets In
More disappointment with the seeds I sowed back in February too. Germination was generally very good, especially the ten varieties of tomato I sowed. However, I have been having a serious problem with damping off, a fungal infection of the soil which affects the roots of the young seedlings, causing the stem to collapse. It spreads like wildfire, becoming airborne, and can kill off a whole tray of seeds in no time. Damping off is caused by poor conditions, in particular not enough light. I'm a bit stuck really though. The greenhouse is not heated and won't be warm enough for them, the dining room is just not bright enough. But mostly it's my own fault for making the same mistake as I've made before, killing the seedlings with kindness by making the soil too wet.
I have read that sprinkling the soil surface with cinnamon powder can solve the problem, so I have raided the spice cupboard. I'm not sure if it's too late to save some. In desperation I moved the worst affected trays to the greenhouse anyway, but this merely sped up the demise of the poor seedlings.
I'm still hoping to keep enough alive to get a decent early harvest, but I'll have to resow some varieties and accept a one month delay. Having said that, I often find that the slightly later sown seeds virtually catch up anyway.

Peas On Earth
No point worrying about it now. What's gone is gone and I'll just move on and take the best course of action from where I am now. Back on a more optimistic note, today's early fog gave way to a glorious day by early afternoon. I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours in the garden with Sue planting peas - Kelvedon Wonder and Early Onward. Also Sugar Snaps and Purple Mangetout. Peas like to clamber and climb, so various structures were improvised for them. For this we used the sticks and branches saved from pruning a red dogwood. It looks excellent. I guess the dogwood may just decide to root itself, but I don't think it'll compete with the peas and I may even get some new shrubs at the end of the season.

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