seed raising

You can’t buy these seedlings in a shop

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Celeriac seedlings, with a bit more growing to do yet
Celeriac seedlings, with a bit more growing to do yet

There’s a lot to be said for growing vegetables from store-bought seedlings. It’s quick and easy, and you can be confident that the seedlings are ready to plant right away. It can also give an earlier start, and therefore earlier harvesting times.

The one big drawback, however, is that you’re limited to what’s available in stores.

Every year, the “classics” will be available in any gardening centre: herbs, onions, cabbages, beans, peas, etc. These will typically be the same varieties from year-to-year.

There will also be some less common stuff, based on the latest trends, or on what’s been showcased on national TV gardening shows.

That still leaves a lot of plants that never appear in garden centres, including the majority of the heirloom varieties.

This is where it pays to grow things from seed, purchased from one of the many seed suppliers. The seedlings above are celeriac, for example, which is a tasty addition to the winter table.

I’ve also grown a bunch of heirloom brassicas, parsnips and french red shallots. Yum!

You can, of course, mix-and-match. Which is what we’ve done — I don’t think that’s “cheating”!

Making paper seed raising punnets

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A pile of paper pots, ready for seeds.
A pile of paper pots, ready for seeds.

When on holiday in Tasmania over Christmas, one of the thing we picked up was a paper pot maker. It’s a lovely little device made of turned wood, and it creates very practical paper pots for seed raising.

I’m doing all my seed raising in these for Autumn/Winter, and so far so good. The paper stays nice and moist, and doesn’t seem in a hurry to break down or fall apart.

One variation from the instructions is to make the paper pots taller than the first batch shown in the photo above. This gives the roots a bit more space, and the pots a bit more volume, reducing the danger that the pots dry out.

Making pots is also a good thing to do while watching TV 🙂

Broccoli seedling, poking its head up from a handmade paper pot.
Broccoli seedling, poking its head up from a handmade paper pot.