Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Seperating Seedlings safely

Have you ever bought a container just because it had extra seedlings in it only to have trouble getting them apart?  Yesterday I was out looking for, oh anything that struck my fancy in the way of plants and guess what I found?  Tomatoes starts...three in a pot!  My brain immediately went into thrifty shopper mode and all I saw were two pots with six plants in them!

Oh, a bonus buy, six for the price of two!

So here's the deal.  You have been lied to...well sort of.  You know those pots with more than one seedling in them?  Unless they are squash or cucumbers you don't have to cut the heads off of them.  Yup...that's right!  I had the good fortune of working as a plant propagator for a couple of years and one thing I learned very early on was that plants will take a lot more messing with than we have been taught, at least most plants. 

To get the seedlings apart safely you need to take some care though as just tearing them apart tears off valuable roots so let me share a secret I learned from my propagator job...use water.  That's right, water.  Here's how it's done.

Roots at the sides of the pot but not matted

Pop the plants out of the container.  The roots should look about like the ones in the photo above.  By the way I always check the roots at the nursery, the plants won't be bothered by you carefully popping them out of the container to look at them unless they were just planted which I see once in a while and honestly, they shouldn't be out for sale until the roots hit the side of the pot.

Water is great for removing soil from roots
Fill a large bowl about half way up with water, enough to cover the roots with room to swish around in it without spilling it everywhere.  Gently swish the root ball around in the water to wash away the soil.

A gentle pressing of the wet root ball helps release more soil

After a little swishing around in the water you may find it helpful to gently press the root ball to get the soil to release from the roots.

Almost clean of soil particles...yippee!

Be sure to get as much of the soil off as possible or those roots will not want to come apart without tearing.

About as good as it gets, time to start unraveling things

 Once the soil is washed off the roots you can begin to untangle them without tearing them.  Be careful not to tug on them too hard or they will break off.  It is a lot like untangling twine or that necklace.

Don't let a minor root mat get you down

Watch for matted roots and be patient working them apart.  They will come apart, just don't rush it.

It's working!

Hey, will you look at that!  It's working, they are coming apart pretty well.  It is literally like trying to untie a knot in string or a chain.  Its best to not yank on them but keep the tension loose and relaxed and it works a whole lot better.

Three now set free

Once they are separated you can pot them up in their own little pots or plant them in the ground if its time to.

Pinching leaves

Pinch off the lower leaves (cotelydon or embryonic first leaves) leaving the top leaves (true leaves).  This will let you plant the tomatoes a little deeper and allow them to form roots all along their stem. 

NOTE: There are very few plants that can do this so don't try it with others unless you know they can form leaves along their stems too.

Just enough soil to cover the bottom

Place a layer of potting soil in the bottom of each pot and set the plants in them with the roots spread out a bit.

Spread roots a bit

Fill the containers with soil and water in well.  Set them in a warm sunny location and when the roots can be seen kind of like the top photo of them go ahead and plant them into even larger pots or in the garden.  Six tomato starts for the price of two for a buck and a half...not a bad deal at all I'd say.

A little extra effort will reap a greater harvest of tomatoes

Happy Gardening!

Copyright © 2012 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Peeking Into Viscaya

The Container Tent at Viscaya

Like most plant lovers there is nothing I would rather be doing than nosing around a nursery on a sunny afternoon...especially if it is a brand new one.  Just a mile from where I live a brand new plant nursery opened for a little preview peek inside and shopping if one so desired.  I was not going to miss this opportunity and headed there right after church with my camera and a few coins in my pockets to see what I could find.

William working it on Sneak Peek Day

Viscaya is owned an operated by William McClenathan who has already made a name for himself as the a part of the friendly expert team on Garden Time TV and as a garden guru at Portland Nursery.  By the way, aside from all of that, he is also one of the sweetest guys you would every want to meet.  He has been dreaming of opening his own place for a while now and finally, on Mother's Day, it will open to the public.  May I tempt you with a sneak peek of your own? Follow me and I'll show you around.

Sculptured hedge next to the container tent.

The concept of shopping in a garden...very cool idea.  It feels like such an adventure yet so peaceful.  All the lawn pathways and hedges and beds throughout really make it quite the adventure.

One of several fountains on the grounds.

Rusted metal sculpture greeting visitors

Perfect pairing of rusted pole and a sturdy

Inspiring simplicity that calms the soul.

Thoughtfully places benches with plants for sale along pathways?

Clever use of a broken container.

Unique surprises are everywhere like these pitcher plants

Plants for sale along one of the pathways

I have to stop here and let you know that this garden is "a-mazing"...The garden itself is a maze and inside of it is another small maze made of Arborvitae on the left side just across from those plant benches in the photo above.  How many nurseries have you ever been to with one of those?

A simple yet powerful statement

At the end of the long straight pathway is this wonderful fence made of branches that are attached to a basic board frame that was probably my favorite thing I saw.  But that wasn't all.

What a great use for a leaded window!

(If that window and fence ever come up missing, you know where to look William.)

Indigenous stone wall along the front garden area.

Lewisia looking fabulous in bright pink

Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Moonlight' looking quite happy

This column caught my eye...hmmm

It took me a while but I finally realized William had used cinder block to construct pillars for his art pieces in more than one place.  I love this idea.  Again, simple, and this time very affordable and sturdy.  These could be mortared together and given a skin coat of mortar to make them look like a square pillar if one wanted to...but I kind of like them just as they are.  Nicely done.

An arbor shrine

This took my breath away.

The pot with variegated Forsythia and white tulips took my breath away.  I wish I could have captured how gorgeous it was.  So airy, clean and crisp...just beautiful.

Classic bowl and column

I was so inspired by what I saw I am going to have to try some of these ideas in my own garden.

Shelf Tower

Viscaya will also be offering bentwood furniture like this shelf tower.  I loved the curly willow this artist used...just loved it.

It's got curly wood!

Sturdy construction with attention to detail

I resisted taking photos of the plant tables, I had to leave something special for you to come see for yourself.  There are some really nice specimens and prices are reasonable.  I know I found some that just begged to come home with me.  Oh I am going to get into so much trouble here.

Viscaya has a Facebook page too.  Give them a like and keep up with the latest news.

Thanks for joining me.  Hope to see you there sometime.

Copyright © 2012 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.