In fact it is nearly winter, will be by the time this planting break is over. There are roots and perennials planting days by the lunar calendar today and tomorrow, and again towards the end of the week. I don’t entirely trust the lunar calendar, but it does keep me in a nice rhythm and routine, so I do plant succeeding rounds of my staples rather than just mean to! This is a tray of mixed pearl onions and carrot seed, and if I plant just one of these every month it is a nice quantity for us – always enough ready for harvesting but never a glut.
I plant very few things, almost nothing, out into the garden as seed. Once upon a time when I had a huge unfenced garden it made more sense, but even then advanced seedlings were a major part of my labour economy. These days I live in a wildlife friendly environment that has succeeded all too well, and I have to use every bit of my fortress fenced garden space to its limit.
So these days I plant even carrots out as advanced seedlings. The basic concept is a bottomless pot, a tube, filled with a mix that is half creek sand and half garden soil. For carrots, I try to find some soil that is not too rich or they go all hairy on me and develop more leaf than roots. I mix carrot and spring or pearl onion seed together because they are such good companions and plant thinly, thinning out further to about 4 of each per pot.
I keep the box of seedlings in the shadehouse where they have a very cushy life until they are a good 10 cm tall. At this stage they are easy to handle, they can fight it out with any weeds that want to take them on, and I can plant them out scattered all over the garden. The month or so the seedlings spend in the shadehouse also allows me an extra month of yield from the spot.
I have been experimenting lately with newspaper tubes, but although they tell me newspaper these days has soy based ink, I don’t really like to put the quantities I use into the garden. So I’m playing at the moment with making tubes from banana plants. I like it so far – easy to harvest and to fashion into tubes, and I should be able to plant the carrot-and-onion sets out banana bark pot and all and let the worms do the rest. I’ll let you know how it goes!