Mags Riordan of Bumblebee Farm is guiding us through the planning, planting and caring of a bed for cut flowers. By the time summer arrives the bed should boast an abundance of pollinator-friendly flowers ready for cutting and enjoying. This month she focuses on potting your seedling on.
With the equinox behind us growth will really begin to take off. Seeds germinate and develop true leaves at different rates, so potting on will happen over the course of the month, which is perfectly natural. The key is to move them on before they get leggy and start competing with each other: I multi-sow but not too thickly with the smaller seeds.
Water seedlings at least 15 minutes beforehand and allow excess water to drain away. This helps by making it easier to tease seedlings apart and reduces the risk of damaging the fragile roots.
Fill your module trays with compost, level off and tap down by tapping the container on the work surface; watering beforehand is helpful – this also helps settle compost and eliminate air pockets. I gently remove the cell from my module tray containing my seedlings and again, very gently, tease the seedlings apart. Always hold by a seed leaf, being very careful not to damage the fragile stem. Use a dibber, pencil or your finger to make a hole to drop the seedling in, making sure it’s planted deep enough that the seed leaf is flush or if stretched below the compost level. Gently firm compost around the stem being careful not to compact thus allowing free movement of fine root hairs.
If you’re growing on, on a sunny windowsill, be sure to turn trays every few days, otherwise plants will stretch reaching for light. At this stage of development light and moisture are critical. Keep seedlings moist but never waterlogged.
As they develop and roots become visible at the bottom of the container, they can be hardened off by placing outside by day, but bring them back in under protection by night. This process needs to be done for about two weeks. Knowing your last frost date will determine when you will be planting out into their final position.
Our next Instagram live is Sunday, April 18 where we will be going through potting on, caring for your new plants and hardening off. As the insect timed count kicks off in April, we will be doing this and encouraging you to join in and submit your findings to www.biodiversityireland.ie. We will also be chatting with garden designer Leoine Cornelius about designing a border with pollinator friendly plants. Any questions can be submitted on Saturday, April 17 and we will answer these on Sunday.