Sunday, March 18, 2007

Paper pots... the honeymoon is over

I love the idea of paper pots for sowing seeds for various reasons. Today however, nature decided to rebel in the nursery and I wasn't pleased to discover the unwelcome signs of mould this morning when I went to give everything their morning drink of water. The sad mizuna which despite my optimism have definitely given up and keeled over had been invaded by some sort of fungi overnight. A closer nursery inspection revealed that the outside of a number of the other pots had the beginnings of a white furry thing going on.

After much deliberation and serious discussion as to what might be the main cause (including at one point getting out the pests and diseases book to try to identify the fungi style growth) a conclusion was made that the pots and paper underneath is just not drying out properly therefore creating an idea breeding ground for things that we don't want to be growing in the nursery.

The offending mould in its various forms

Action had to be taken as a matter of urgency to rescue the seedlings before the infestation spread any further. The infested mizuna pots have been disposed of along with the old paper lining the trays. New paper pots were made (using just one strip of paper as I suspect my doubling-up method may have contributed to the pots not drying out properly...?) and the strongest aubergine and tomato seedlings transplated in their own fresh pots.

I have changed my watering technique too as the little seedling water can we have is a bit fierce and shoots out quite a lot of water. Instead, the classic thumb-over-the-end technique has been adopted. Slower but it stops water going everywhere. I am going to make my own watering device using a plastic bottle with a couple of small holes in the lid which should have the same effect as the thumb-over-the-end technique.

I took the opportunity of sowing a few more seeds too whilst I had my potting kit out. The nursery now has:

5 aubergine 'little finger', 5 tomato 'totem' and 6 tomato 'tigerella' seedlings (transplated into their own pots)

3 pots of mizuna (now a bit of an experiment to see if I can actually raise seedlings after my first failed attempt)

6 pots of leek 'atlanta' and 6 pots of leek 'pandora'

1 tray of garlic chives

2 trays of tendergreen dwarf french beans (10 seeds per tray)

Nursery residents

The trays are recycled packaging containers essentially with a few drainage holes made in them. The beans have been sown in two trays that our mushrooms are packed in from the weekly veggie box and the garlic chives are in a plastic tray that started out life as the tray in a packet of biscuits. I have a box in the cupboard which is now full to the brim with trays, yoghurt pots, milk cartons (all washed of course) and various other recyclables that I can use for the veggie garden as cloches, seed trays etc.

At last, some green to look at!

Yesterday the broad bean plants given to us were planted out and a higher wire mesh cover had to be put over to protect the shallots as they are now sprouting nicely and needed more head room (slight problem with squirrels digging everything up.) It is great to have something green in the ground finally! James put up a willow screen around the compost bin too so it is not so in your face when sitting outside and forked over the emply beds again which has dried out a bit. We'll cover these now to warm up the soil for planting out.


angelfeet said...

It's disappointing about those paper pots. In one way it makes sense that mold will appear if you keep pouring water on paper, but is one, rather than a double layer of paper strong enough?

Muppet said...

If you water your pots with (cold) chamomile tea, you should see a drastic reduction in mould growth.

TheBuddingVeggieGrower said...

The single layer seems to be holding up fine in terms of strength. I think I was perhaps overly cautious by doubling up.

I'll certainly be keeping an eye on the new pots made at the weekend.

Cold chamomile tea, interesting. Is this something you would apply occasionally (i.e. once a week) or would you always water with chamomile infused water when using the paper pots?

John Curtin said...

I've never used paper pots but I do think they just don't dry out and as you say are the perfect breeding ground for mould.

Maybe reduce watering? Or take the affected trays out into the sun (not much chance with this cold snap) and 'burn' it off.

TheBuddingVeggieGrower said...

Yes, I think less saturation is they way forward. I have fashioned a new watering 'device' now which is much more accurate at getting water inside the pot without soaking the whole thing. Fingers crossed that will do it.

Liz said...

I use paper pots and have and some problem with mould but never so much that the plants are affected. I find it best to do just one layer and not to over water the plants - I always think they need more than they actually do! Beware though, by the time you transfer the seeds to the garden the paper pots will have pretty much fallen to pieces and need a careful hand to move them successfully. Good luck!

Liz said...

Oh and another thing - I put the pots really close together in a tray so that they hold each other up if they disintegrate too much.