I often call myself a lazy gardener... but really that's just an excuse to break the rules as I look for more efficient ways to use my time and energy.
One area of gardening I avoid cutting corners is in growing seedlings. These babies get the very best care and attention, from seed to soil. I currently have many more plants than I need for my own home garden, and while there are always community spaces begging for these, I do have a few surplus available to sell.
Read on to see just how much time these take to grow, and what makes them very, very different to what is sold in garden centres.
Where it all begins: seed raising mix
So although there's nothing quick and easy about growing plants here at Blue Borage, the easiest bit of my work is making seed raising mix.
Three simple ingredients, mixed in equal ratios: coconut coir, pumice sand, and sifted compost. I often wonder why these ingredients aren't sold in bulk - do we really need so much plastic packaging in our garden centres and supermarkets?
Consumers could all start asking this question. If that happened then ever so gently, the gardening sector might start to move away from single use plastic. I think it could take thousands of informed consumers all asking for change at once - are you one of them?
Seed Trays: well orchestrated timing and non-stop care
As much as possible, the seed sowing here happens in a rhythm determined by the moon and planets, and I follow the biodynamic moon calendar published by Brian Keats. Careful observation of which constellation the moon is passing through determines whether the seeds planted that day are flowers, leafy greens, root crops or fruiting vegetables.
|Flowers||Leafy Greens||Root Crops||Fruiting Vegetables|
|Cauliflower, Broccoli, Sunflower, Marigold||Lettuce, Cabbage, Mizuna, Spinach||Carrot, Beetroot, Daikon, Turnip||Pumpkin, Tomato, Cucumber, Pea|
The seed trays are handled with utmost care: rushing is liable to send one toppling over, which can easily result in a loss of $900 worth of food. It's amazing to think that one seed tray can hold that much produce, right?
Second stage: the magic of home made potting mix
The potting mix here at Blue Borage is a little like alchemy. Worm castings are essential, as is a little bit of native garden soil. Well aged leaf mould is another favourite ingredient - except there's never enough leaf mould. Otherwise I use the compost made with biodynamic methods, and a small amount of commercial compost.
Ideally I'd like to not have to use any purchased compost at all, but only the best quality biodynamic compost I make here with love and devotion - Soil with Soul.
Boxes of Seedlings: four options
There are four methods used here for preparing the plants for transportation to a new home.
- Individual pots: one plant per pot. This is premium care reserved for the fussiest of plants, or those whose roots take up a large amount of space. Borage is always packaged like this - it could possibly be the fussiest plant there is.
- Small pots: 4-5 plants per pot. This is saving on space, and giving each plant a good depth for root development, while also giving the baby plants the company of their friends. A lot of plants seem to do better planted on like this, and it is certainly a lot quicker planting them in to the garden this way.
- Six packs: These look the most efficient, but are not my favourite method at all... the soil depth is not great, the individual cells can't share their moisture, the plants don't talk to each other, and don't have quite enough space to thrive. I suspect these were a product of a very efficient gardening sector looking to sell plants with as little soil as possible?
- Mixed boxes. This is a new experiment, born in the Covid19 pandemic as a means to move seedlings into temporary homes, but planted up as an appealing selection for a new home post lockdown. The advantage is that the soil is pretty consistent for the entire box, which makes watering really efficient. They are nice and deep, so the roots get to stretch and grow, which is perfect for preparing to move into a 'real' garden. The surface area allows for a large selection - it's almost enough to hold 80 plants - possibly a month's worth of greens! The final obvious advantage is that it's easy to transport, into your car, and then out to your garden.
An example of the borage plants - happiest on their own, with a generous amount of soil to get started in. Click to go to the shop and order yours to collect from Titirangi after lockdown is over.
No matter what method of planting we use, it's of utmost important that any plants sold from the suburban homestead in Titirangi make it into your garden and continue to thrive.
The best way to ensure this is to get a seasonal kitchen garden consultation - I'll come and poke through your soil, check your compost and/or worm farm, and talk through your planting plans for the season ahead. This in-person consultation is probably a Level 2 service, but no matter what level we are, there's always advice available through the Blue Borage Gardening Facebook group, or you can book a remote consultation.
Would you consider growing your edible garden from seed, and making your own artisanal soil? I'd love to hear how you get on.