seedlings (c) Rianne Mason

April garden journal

Watering the seedlings

We’re hoping to sell some plants for the Inspire Community Garden that I’m volunteering at and that means lots of seedlings in the polytunnel that need watering. I’m amazed at the sheer volume of plants that can be grown here and I happily walked around them all with the watering can.

Did you know that putting a rose (the small sprinkler attachment) on the spout of your can is the best way to water seedlings? It helps to evenly distribute it and not destroy the delicate soil surface – every day’s a school day.

Planting potatoes

I got a bit excited at a local gardening centre this month and found a variety of small salad purple potato called ‘Blue Danube’. I discovered purple potato in Okinawa, Japan and I can’t wait to see how this one turns out.

Dad helped me with planting and showed me how to dig a long narrow trench to put the potatoes in and then place the dug up soil over the top. Sounds pretty simple but I still managed to mess it up! Apparently you should stand on a wooden board on top of the soil rather than putting your feet directly on it. This stops you from damaging the soil structure by reducing the weight and chance of compaction.

I’m realising that a large part of gardening is about keeping the soil happy.

Weeding

I don’t want to look at, or even hear the word, ‘bindweed’ ever again.

Learning about plant nutrition and the root environment

This unit of the RHS course is all about the nutrients needed to keep a plant healthy, how you can use fertilisers to nourish the soil and the important role that organic matter plays in both soil structure and plant nutrients. It’s all about soil! The beautiful plant we see is just the tip of the iceberg, a lot of the hard work happens below the surface.

Nitrogen is needed for healthy green leaves, phosphorous is needed for cell division and energy storage, and potassium is needed for chemical processes. Minor nutrients play an important role too, such as iron, zinc and magnesium. Figure out how to get these into your plant and how to spot deficiencies and you’re well on your way to garden heaven.

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