Daphne Ledward, Garden Planner, Gardener, Author and Broadcaster

DAPHNE'S COLUMN

SAVING THE SEEDLINGS.


Spalding Guardian Gardening 16 May 2013

Tragedy struck chez Daphne last week. Id made up my mind not to buy plug plants for bedding this year as Id successfully overwintered a lot of useful stock in the greenhouse, but I was tempted by a mail order deal that offered 600 mini-plugs at a knock-down price (presumably because of the dreadful spring and the fact that gardeners so far this season are still feeling less than enthusiastic) and sent off my order.

The baby plants duly arrived. I unpacked them straightaway and took them to my spare greenhouse at the Patch to recover from their journey, intending to pot them on the following day. That was where things started to go wrong.

I awoke next morning with a blinding headache, which proceeded to get worse as the day wore on. I remembered the plants, but felt too rotten to do anything about them. Remembering they seemed quite damp when I last saw them, I wasnt too worried, but as it turned out, it was another two days before I felt fit to rescue them. By this time they had turned into little packs of what I can only describe as boiled lettuce.

Not wanting to throw money down the drain, I wondered if any of them could be salvaged, and brought them home to soak in a tray of water. Within an hour or so, some of them were starting to look considerably better, and in another couple of days many of them were well enough to be potted on. They will never be quite the specimens I was looking forward to, but Im glad I didnt immediately consign them to the compost bin, and there is a certain sense of achievement to be had in bringing poorly plants back from the dead.

I have learned my lesson, though, and will never again let seedlings out of my sight unless they have access to regular watering. At this time of year, even though the weather is far less than spring-like, the sun is quite hot, especially through glass, and compost can dry out fatally in a matter of hours; you can never assume the job youd planned will get done when it was essential to do it, and I am lucky to have about two thirds of the plants still useable. Phew, what a relief!

Daphne Ledward

This piece originally appeared in the Spalding Guardian