Things are getting hectic, with pricking out or potting on an almost daily activity. Serves me right.

Unless I think a seedling is particularly deserving I have been pricking out initially into half seed trays, usually just a few but up to 15 or so of a type. There is usually room in a half tray for 3 or 4 different varieties to grow on for a few weeks, particularly as I usually prick out when very small.

Once the seedlings look like they are crowding each other I move on to individual 7cm pots.

I treated myself to 5 bags of John Innes #3 compost (I had some vouchers off the back of my autumn bargain plant buying frenzy) so I have been using that for potting on, with some vermiculite added for a bit of drainage and water retention. Last year I killed a load of young plants by blithely mixing in a load of fertiliser to ordinary multi purpose compost. It was much too rich and they died of overeating. The advantage of JI3 is the decades of research that went in to the nutrient mix, it should be just right. In theory JI2 is intended for initial potting on with JI3 intended for subsequent potting on. One of my propagation books recommends going straight to JI3 if plants are likely to spend a while in these pots. Given I am unlikely to keep up with the potting on I have gone with JI3. In the past I have usually used multi-purpose compost so am intrigued to see if this makes any difference.

I am trying to grow alstromeria from seed this year. I recently bought a book co-authored by Christopher Lloyd on growing flowers from seed. It contains a bit of banter and some good variety-specific advice. The alstromeria section refers to some research that was done on the optimum way of convincing alstromeria to germinate. The advice I followed was to have them in the heated bench for 3 weeks, then in the fridge for 3 weeks, then back in the heated bench for 3 weeks at which point I could expect germination. If that holds true I am on the final straight, they are almost 2 weeks into their final 3 week stretch.

The advice also said they don’t appreciate being mucked about with so it is best to sow 3 or 4 seeds in a 9cm pot then plant out entire, whence they will form a nice clump. We shall see.

Another variation on a theme, if the seedlings have particularly long roots when pricked out, I have been moving them to deeper 1L pots rather than seed trays. 8 or 10 fit round the edge and 3 or 4 in the middle. Cosmos and calendula have gone down this route. After a while I will split the group and pot up individually.

I’m tickled by how much these little acer davidii seedling look like mini trees. They get to be very large so I have to decide what to do. I might have a go at bonsai, no idea what that involves. Mind you, I have to keep it alive first. I grew 1 acer osakazuki from seed last year, but currently it is doing a good impression of 3 inches of dead stick. It might just be slow out of winter dormancy. Or it might be a goner.

I am growing a few different varieties of foxglove this year, they are all doing quite well, the d. purpurea albiflora were big enough to pot on individually shortly after taking this photo. In theory I am being remorseless about culling excess seedlings at this stage. In practice I sometimes (often) fail. In this case I potted up 9 robust seedlings and composted a similar amount. I was planning on 3. Oh well.

There are too many to include everything here so I will close with a geranium.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with more seedling stories.