Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Part 1 - Planting your seeds - Pots


Welcome to my blog about growing vegetables in containers in Dubai, the UAE and/or the Arabian Gulf region.

Today I would like to write about the way I plant my seeds.  I guess there are just as many ways of planting your seeds as there are types of seeds to plant.  What size pot and what type of soil is best?  What vegetable seeds do I plant? 

I have planted several different vegetables seeds this time.  I used different methods depending on the seeds and what I have on hand at the time.

 This year, so far, I have planted 3 different varieties of tomatoes ( 2 cherry type / 1 regular ), five different capsicums ( Bell peppers & Sweet peppers - no chillies ), green beans, onions and spinach. It is my first time planting green beans, onions and spinach.  I found the onion seeds in the gardening section of a supermarket, the green beans & spinach were brought from Canada by a friend - the seed packets finally thawed out!!! ;-) (Inside joke).

I have not had much luck with pepper seeds in the past years but being half German & half Texan I am pretty hardheaded so I am still trying.  I think I waited to late last year and the soil temperature as well as the water temperature were too low for good germination.  A few came up but at a very low percentage compared to the number I planted.  They DO take a long time to germinate - 3 to 4 weeks in some cases as opposed to tomatoes 7-10 days.  So, this year I planted them late September hoping that by the time they come up it is not too hot during the middle of the day thus killing them.  I guess I could have planted them even earlier and then put them under shade after germination but I will be away for 8 days this month and did not want them at a stage of growth when they should be planted or transplanted.  Another problem was waiting for the temperature of the municipality supplied water to the house to come down to a usable temperature - I just want to water seedlings not cook them! 

I planted seeds a few different ways this year.  Over the years I have collected the small plastic pots that my wife gets with her vinca & petunias that she purchases each year - it free!  There are a variety of pots available in the market.  I have seen at Carrefour, in the past, complete seed planting kits but have notice lately there are all gone - maybe they have been bought up.  You basically have a choose between plastic or peat pots.  

The peat pots come in different sizes and shapes.  The are all based on the same principle - they are an organic fiber pot that is usually planted directly into the soil as opposed to the plastic type where you need to remove the plant from the pot before planting.  You will notice from the picture above that the plastic pot has holes in the bottom for drainage as the peat pot does not.  The peat pots are designed to be watered from the bottom up - huh?  You need to put the peat pots in a vessel that can hold water and then pour water into the vessel - the water will then be soaked up into the peat pot. But be careful how much water you apply - don't drown them!  Theory says this method of watering will make the roots grow downward towards the water even growing through the pot itself - or so is the preached principle. 

I am not altogether convinced of this yet.  Last year I tried some peat pots but never saw any roots coming out so I removed some of the seedlings from the peat pot as well as cut the bottom out of the peat pot before planting them.  When I sifted the soil this year I was finding the remains of the peat pots look like when I planted them - they did not really degrade in the soil as I understand they would.  So, I do not know how well they work by planting them directly into the soil.  I will try it this year to see what happens but if anybody has more experience with peat pots, I hope you will share it with us in the comment box.  Below is the labeling that came with the peat pots I bought.

The peat pots in the pictures above were purchased at a general item sale for Dhs. 10.00 at Carrefour about six months ago.  What I did learn this time was that size does matter.  These are small pots and after filling them with moist soil  they became soft and fragile.  So, using my specialized seed planting tool, a No.2 pencil, I made a hole for the seed and then I filled the hole and top of the pot with sweet sand because I felt if I was to push down on the soil, as I do with the plastic pots, to cover the seed the pots would break apart.  Even more so after watering them properly.

So, enough on the peat pots for now - lets go to plastic pots.  The first thing I did this year before planting seeds in my old small plastic pot was to wash/soak them in a bucket of water with a good health dose of bleach to kill any hebegebes that may have survive the previous year.  It might be a good idea to do the same for any new ones you buy as well - you don't really now where it might have been stored.

Pot size you use to plant your seeds may make a difference to some of you.  The smaller the pot you use has different benefits:
  • Less soil needed
  • Less space needed in a nursery
  • Easier to transplanted the seedlings as less soil is at the base of the seedling
However, if the pot is too small you will find that the seedlings may become root bound before you are ready to transplant them.  If the seedling/plant becomes root bound in any pot then the roots may not grow out properly after transplanting them.  My wife always squeezes/squashes the plastic pot of the plants she buys so the roots are not balled up and will spread out after planting.  It always make me cringe to see her do this as I am sure it damages the root hairs on the roots - but her plant/flower survival rate is very high - so I guess it works - I'm old school that believes the roots are very sensitive and care should be taking when handling them.  That said it seems onions and strawberries roots can take quite a beating before planting and still live. 

As I am cheap, I reuse the leftover pots from my wife's flower purchases for the following reasons:

  • It's free
  • If I do not reuse them - they go to the dump and pollute the enviorment ( I guess it will happen eventually - some I have had for 3 years now.)
  • Easy to handle - will not fall apart
  • Possible to transplant into them because they do not fall apart when wet 
Hope this was helpful if you are thinking of planting some vegetables this year.  The next posting will be about planting the seeds.

Thanks for stopping by!!!


1 comment:

  1. waiting for ur next post eagerly since this is a good time to start potting in dxb.
    i usually have an issue with my seedlings that i am hoping u can help me with. my seedlings are very weak and they dont grow more than 1-2 inches after which they die. any tips? i planted flowering plants btw.