Last weekend my “One & Only” (O&O) and I went to a “Seed to Feed” Workshop. The workshop is part of the Toowoomba Regional Council Healthy Living, Change Project. The aim, through a series of free and low-cost activities, is to get people active and healthy. The “Seed to Feed” workshops have been very popular. We were on a waiting list and only attended due to a cancellation. We have been gardening for decades. My O&O is a great gardener. He has the happy knack of getting things to grow. Therefore, why would we go to a workshop that was mostly about plant propagation for the home garden. We went because there is always something new we can learn. And learn we did. The workshop presenter was Brian Sams, a horticulturist. Brian was full of knowledge and entertained the crowd of around 30 people.
The workshop was not just about soaking up information, it was also hands on. Time to get our hands dirty by making our own propagation potting mix. One woman in our group was enthusiastic and quickly got into making up the potting mix, looking around for the elusive gloves! That was when I pulled out a pair of disposable gloves for her, the second pair was for me! Others were asking me where I got the gloves? I was the only one who thought of this! I like to garden but I don’t like to get my hands dirty – no dirt under fingernails for me!
Once we got our potting mix ready we were preparing our soft cuttings for potting. Then out came the seeds. Everyone got involved in potting soft and semi-hardwood cuttings to take home. We ended up with daisy, lavender, mint, rosemary, salvias cuttings, as well as Zucchini Lebanese seeds. We are carefully keeping an eye on the cuttings and seeds to make sure they don’t dry out. I hope we are successful with our cuttings as we have not tried growing these varieties from cuttings in the past.
Our Mediterranean Garden is coming along. My O&O has transplanted our herbs and moved these closer to a side door, not far from the kitchen. We have a great choice of tomatoes growing, chilli, capsicum, peas and more! We don’t get frosts where we are, so the peas should do well. In our small way, we are making an effort to shorten the distance from the paddock to the plate. Soon we will have so many tomatoes we will be able to share these with our neighbours.
I notice that these days horticulturists have a new name for “potting mix” – they call it “propagation media”! A good mix, according to Brian, is 3 x part perlite; 2 x part peat moss; 1 x part coarse sand. Media’s can be organic such as peat or bark or inorganic such as sand, perlite and vermiculite. I discovered that the perlite in the propagation mix (media) traps moisture and aerates the soil. I spread vermiculite all over the top of my Zucchini seeds to help their growth and trap the moisture. How long will it be before I start to see life peeking out from the vermiculite?
There are a few reasons why a seed may not germinate including the seed not viable, drying out, media is too wet, the temperature is incorrect, pre-germination treatment not used, root rot disease. There is a lot that can go wrong with gardening. But when it goes right, it is very rewarding. The pre-germination treatment we used for our soft cuttings was a green gel called Clonex. I came away from the workshop encouraged to work more in our small Mediterranean garden; not to be afraid of failure; to keep on learning new gardening tricks as I get older and make light of weeding by mulching. And, by the way I saw a worm farm in action on the day and I now know where I can get my worms for free! Before I go down that track though I will have to look more into the subject area. More about that another day. Let me know if you are growing your vegetable and herbs from seeds and cuttings or have a viable worm farm.