Sunday, January 30, 2011


Cinnamon.... or Not

There has been some discussion lately on one of the Lists I read about using cinnamon to deal with fungi, algae and other such nasties in seedpots. The first thing that got my attention is that the cinnamon you buy at the grocery store is not cinnamon. Apparently it's a mix of cassia and other things finely ground, with a bit of cinnamon oil added. Apparently real cinnamon is very sharp and not a bit like what we like in our apple pies. Who knew? Anyway, even the stuff I have in my spice rack is supposed to kill algae. I've just sprinkled tiny pinches of it on the surface of the fern tray that is currently suffering an algae attack. We'll see what happens!

Seed-starting Mix

Mixed up another large batch of  mix for seed-starting. I bought all the bags of African Violet Soil the garden store had, plus a large bag of vermiculite and several bags of what they call 'Seed Starting Mix' which is really just finely ground peat moss and perlite. I mixed everything together in a large plastic feed bin. These bins are sold at the Farm Supply and are great for lots of things. They're about the size of large garbage pails, but shorter and wider, have polyprop rope handles, and are made of quite sturdy plastic. Unfortunately they don't come with lids, but most of the time that doesn't matter. I have several parked behind the house right now and I dump my kitchen compostables in them while the snow is too deep for me to get to the real compost pile. In the spring it will be easy to wheelbarrow them to the pile and dump them. Anyway, my super mixture filled the feed bin. I watered it a bit and covered it with a piece of plywood, and I'm ready to fill pots for seeds or transplanting seedlies. Some of my ferns are ready to go into larger pots so that will be today's entertainment.

Commercial seed-starting mixes tend to be all peat and additives, and I find it doesn't work well for me. The mix itself soon separates into a thick layer of dry peat on top of a potful of smelly wet whatever, with, of course, a dead plant in the middle.  I did hear that the mixes contain wetting agents which are supposed to solve this problem, but some of my seedlies and fern babies need to stay in their pots for months, and the wetting agents only work for a few weeks. Might be true. In any case, I have found I have much better success with African Violet Soil mixed with some inorganics. Used to be able to get a product called Turface which is a lot like ground-up terra-cotta pots, but I can't get any this year. It was heavy, which helped keep small pots from tipping over, and it helped a lot with drainage. I'm hoping the vermiculite will do that. Perlite works, but floats too much.

Toronto Gardens

Found a great blog! It's two sisters writing about their gardening life in the East Toronto area. I've listed it on the side under Toronto Gardens - take a look. It's so good I even signed up as a follower!

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