Monday, August 2, 2010

Soil Prep and Solar Oven on wishlist

 So while the heat is on and the sun is out... I am preparing a few things for winter. It is hard to think of winter right now when it is in the high 80's to 90's but getting a few things accomplished now will make things easier later.

 I have the big tub on the covered patio filled with water. I am soaking the pots and trays to help loosen the dirt still stuck to them. They will get a thorough brushing and rinse and the dirt laden water will be poured into the flowers. 

 The rubbermaid tote will get a quick spritz with dilute bleach solution (1 part bleach to 8 parts water), the pots and trays will get a quick dunk in the same solution and then allowed to completely dry. I am not a fan of using bleach unless I need to, but these items will all be used for starting transplants. Damping off and any other plant pathogens will be destroyed through this process. The propagation unit as well will be wiped down with the bleach solution. Later, when I am done for the season, all tools that will be used for starting the transplants as well will be sterilized.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  Benjamin Franklin

 On to soil prep, which I will be doing the next few days. This is where I wish I had a solar oven. I should look into making one. Anyways.. creating your own sterilized seed starting mix is as easy as combining spent potting soil, sand and compost, then heating the mix to 180 degrees for a few minutes. As some mixes can get a tad.... aromatic... when heated, this is something you want to do outside if possible. I use a thermometer and an old enamel pot that I acquired somehow over the years. No doubt you can probably find them at thrift stores.

 I don't add fertilizers when creating a seed starting mix. You do want good drainage, but not excessive nutrients. The reason... damping off and various other fungus that can ravage new seedlings also feed off of these nutrients.

 Vermicompost I don't sterilize. I seem to not do as good of a job screening it either as it is not uncommon for me to find worms in the pots of plants I am setting in the garden. I do mix it with sand to keep drainage and break it up a bit. Straight vermicompost isn't the best medium to start seeds as it can dry on top and create a very hard surface.

 Ok... enough stalling. I better get outside and get to work.

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