Monday, February 21, 2011

TP for my ... seed sowing

I decided to experiment with sowing some seeds in toilet paper rolls this weekend. Aside from my bacopa seeds, it's still far too early to start most veggies and flowers indoors in my zone, but @inhabitingtrees suggested way back last fall that I give growing spinach and carrots indoors a shot. Plus, cabin fever: after my wintersowing frenzy in January, I couldn't stand not sowing anything in February.

I flattened a standard toilet paper roll along the long axis, and then folded it again in half to make a crease. The goal is to create a squarish toilet paper roll after un-flattening it.

Next, I cut notches in each of the four corners, each approximately the length of my fingertip to my first knuckle (roughly 3/4 of an inch, 2 centimeters, or 1 DG. Not sure what this is in cubits, chains, or fathoms). I then folded the resulting flaps over to close off the end of the toilet paper roll.

For ease of manipulation, I took a long rubber band to gang together four prepared toilet paper rolls. It turns out that if I tied off the rubber band by 1 DG, it was just long enough to hold the four rolls together without squishing them out of shape.

I filled each cell with seed starting media. Some scrap paper folded into a funnel helped me minimize the mess. I then poured in about 4 litres of warm water (it was about 50°C) to moisten the medium. After about an hour or so of soaking, the medium was thoroughly wet ... a little too wet. I let the whole thing sit overnight so that the medium was more moist (like cake ... mmm cake) than wet (like a saturated sponge). The medium did compact and slump a bit overnight, though. I used a wooden skewer like a dipstick to check the moisture level.

Also, some of the tubes did not hold their shape well and have already started coming apart. Surprisingly, the tubes from cheaper toilet paper were much more sturdy.

Finally, I sowed the following:
  • Spinach, Bloomsdale Long Standing (Sage Garden Herbs): 2 seeds x 4 cells
  • Bok Choy (Richters): 4 x 4
  • Carrots, Jaune du Doubs (Tree & Twig): 4 x 4
  • Cape Daisy, Sky & Ice (Seeds & More): 2 x 4
  • Pepper, Jalapeno (Sage Garden Herbs): 2 x 4
  • Bacopa, Snowtopia (Thompson & Morgan): 1 x 4
  • Datura (Mr. Fothergills): 1 x 4
  • Moonflower (Sage Garden Herbs): 1 x 5
  • "Datura" (From my mom): 3 x 4
  • "Chinese Spinach" (From my mom): a sprinkling
I used a pen cap with notches cut every 1/4" as a dibber

All the datura and moonflower seeds were soaked overnight in warm water. The difference between soaked and non-soaked moonflower seeds is striking; the soaked seeds were prune-like, and had cracked open at the point where the seed used to be connected to the plant (I'm sure there's a technical term for this).

Left: soaked. Right: unsoaked
Not entirely sure what the "Chinese Spinach" is, nor whether the "Datura" from my mom is actually datura, since it looked nothing like what came out of the Mr. Fothergill's package. Guess I'll find out soon!

What species of plant exactly is this Chinese Spinach seed from?
I was rather disappointed in the Bacopa from Thompson & Morgan, especially given how expensive it was ($5 per packet!). There were supposedly 10 pellets in the foil package, but most of them had disintegrated defeating the point of pelletized seed. The foil packaging made it extremely hard to dispense the seed as well; most of it was jammed in the corners and I had to tear the package completely open to get a useful amount of seed out. After this and the lithops disappointment, I don't think I will be ordering from T&M any more.


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