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Garden Potting on ...

Written By Lesley Canter on Thursday, May 6, 2010 | 12:04 AM

Garden Potting on ...
Back at the beginning of March I wrote about pricking out my wallflower seedlings and potting them up as plug plants. This is what they looked like then ...



Garden Potting on ...

After about a month it was clear that they needed potting on. So I duly transferred them. In theory they should all have gone into 3" pots, but there were over sixty of them, and sixty 3" pots would have taken up more space on the balcony than I had to spare. So about twenty of them went into their own pots while the others went straight into the final containers where they'll grow till they flower next spring.

Would it make a difference? All the gardening books and experts are stern about it : never give a young plant more space than it needs at that moment, or it will just put down roots and "forget" to develop above ground.

But that wasn't the only one of gardening's ten commandments that I managed to break. When I'd transferred almost all of them, I ran out of fresh soil. I wanted to finish, so I just used a container that still had last year's soil in it. How much difference would that make?

Well, here are the results. First the container with fresh soil...



Garden Potting on ...

Happy, healthy little plants, coming on well in comparison to their clearly deprived friends in the container with old soil. Most of them haven't made it at all, while the rest remain small and weedy. The self seeded sunflower in there with them doesn't look too happy either ...


Garden Potting on ...
But then there are the plants in the 3" pots. Bear in mind that all of these plants were approximately the same size when I moved them a month or so ago.


Garden Potting on ...

The "potted" plants are more than twice the size even of those in the first container.


Will it make a difference to the display next year? The jury's going to have to stay out till next April before we can get a verdict on that one. The ones in the container with the poor soil are clearly going to need some tender loving care. Transplanting to new soil is the obvious answer, but as I've got so many I thought I'd try an experiment and see to what extent I can "remediate" with fertiliser. When you garden on a balcony in the middle of a city, disposing of old soil is a huge headache, and if you can re-use it, it's one less problem to worry about. We'll see ...

As for the difference between those in the container with good soil and those in the pots, I suspect that there'll be time for things to even out. Or there's even the possibility that superior root development will give the container plants the edge in the long run. Again, we'll see.

One thing is clear however. Had these been annuals rather than biennials, it would have made a huge difference - and meant a much earlier flowering period. From now on, any annuals that I grow from seed will definitely get "potted".

Meanwhile, the wallflowers from last year have been giving a wonderful display. Next year's plants will be a mix of the same browny-yellow ones as are here, plus a new red variety. I'm in two minds about it - for me, wallflowers are brown and yellow. But yet again, we'll see...


Garden Potting on ...
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