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Plug Trays for Root Crops?


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Blowin
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Joined: 20 Aug 2008
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Location: Drimoleague, Co Cork

PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:11 pm    Post subject: Plug Trays for Root Crops? Reply with quote

With particular relevance to Parsnips but also applicable to carrots, beetroot etc., we have all seen plug trays made out of compressed peat that, at the appropriate time, can simply be put into the soil where the individual plug degrades and the seedling carries on growing in its new home.

Parsnips are notoriously poor germinators so one is advised to sow them fairly thickly to get a reasonable row but I inevitably find I have clumps and gaps instead of an even row. Carrot seed is so fine that it's difficult to sow them as thinly as they need to be and even mixing the seed with fine sand or sawdust isn't always successful.

Does anyone know of a deep plug tray into which root crop seeds could be planted? Successes could then be planted out without disturbing the vital root system and failures could be crumbled up and put back into the compost bag or re-planted.

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cooler
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Egg boxes any good, deep enough? for the carrots there is seed tape available to insure spacing. Link http://www.tmseeds.com/product/m2028.html
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barremic
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find that using empty kitchen and toilet rolls are great for sowing carrots and they can be planted straight in the soil with out disturbing the root.

The other option is rolled up newspaper, with the ends stuck or stapled, and then filled with soil. you can then make them as deep as you need, and the paper retains a bit of moisture too

hope this helps
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Blowin
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Location: Drimoleague, Co Cork

PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks both of you for the advice. I'd never heard of seed tapes and may try a row next year.

For the numbers I'd need I'd never generate a big enough quantity of kitchen/toilet roll innards - that's the trouble with having a wife who's a good cook. Would a root crop be able to force its way through the paper cone idea?

I may chat up my local carpet shop for the long cardboard tubes that I could saw up but, being no deeper than the garden centre plug trays, I've always imagined egg boxes wouldn't be deep enough. Last year we tried to grow a couple of sweet chestnut trees and, when nothing happened, we tipped one of the pots out and found it had sent down a very healthy root about 3 inches but nothing above ground. That was my fear with the root vegetables but perhaps I'm inventing problems where none exists.

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barremic
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Blowin

I recently planted up some broad beans, and peas, and within a week of germinating their roots were sticking out the bottom of the pot.
admitedly i did plant them in rather small pots that i had to hand.

but a couple of weekends ago i grabbed a few of the free newspapers, and took out the staples and tore the pages in half, and wrapped them round a deodorant can.

So i was able to choose how deep i needed them (deeper for the broad beans). Their new roots are able to pop out through the paper when they run out of room.

I am guessing the cardboard rolls from the carpet shops would be too thick, the handy thing with loo rolls and newspaper is it rots down while its in the ground allowing the veg to do its own thing.

hope this helps
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MuddyWitch
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not caring that EVERYONE thinks I'm batty, I ask all my friends & neighbours to save all sorts of things for me, loo rolls amongst them.

An other thing I've tryed, reasonably successfully, is to fill a thin cardboard box (such as a breakfast cereal box) with compost & planted carrots in these. You get a small block at a time this way, but do be careful not to overwater or your 'cornflake plant pot' will disintigrate prematurely!

MW

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Blowin
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again, everyone.

I've just had a trawl through Dobies website and found http://www.dobies.co.uk/Shop/Gardening+Equipment/Plant+Propagation+and+Potting+on/Potting+On/Rootrainers+561708.htm
so I've ordered one to see how it behaves.

Never worry about looking batty. I get very funny looks walking round the lanes picking nettles etc. but then I look at my beans.

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Blowin
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolute BINGO!

My Rootrainers pack has just arrived and is exactly what I needed.

Key in Ronaash in your search engine and you'll find them in Kelso, Scotland. The pack price is a bit high with plastic holding trays and propagating cover BUT, most unusually, they also sell the 'books' of openable plugs that you can use with your own seed trays etc.

Where on earth this product has been over the years I don't know but I can now grow one seed per plug and then plant out one success per the recommended number of inches to give a nice orderly row and maximum usage of the plot.

I shall go to bed happy tonight.

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michael brenock
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

most amusing entertaining and educational query i read so far and i am learning but deep rooted crops like carrots and parsnips are notoriously bad transplanters and on no account should the growing point be allowed to dry out or become disturbed other wise the plant bolt or runs to seed or dies off, regards
michael brenock Horticultural advisor (retired)
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Blowin
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You've obviously read the website blurb, Michael, which concentrates on using the product to produce a good root stock for things like bedding and house plants.

I've used square plastic drums, cut in half from top to bottom and lined the resultant trays with newspaper. I've then filled each tray with as many rootrainers as each will hold, filled the plugs with compost and sown two or three seeds in each. If nothing else, it's shown me just how many seeds you get in a packet!

The trays have then been filled to a depth of a couple of inches with water, placed under some old window frames in a sheltered position and I'm now awaiting the results.

The moment a viable seedling pokes its head above the compost, I'll split open the plug and transfer it to a well prepared bed that's been designated to receive them. This way I'm hoping to produce an evenly spaced row of parsnips rather than the bunches and gaps I've tended to find in the past when I've sown seed direct into the soil. It may work. It may not. We'll see.

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Sean Ph'lib
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope it works - but I'm a bit dubious where parsnips are concerned. I've just thinned mine, and even at the inch-high stage the little tap root goes down a considerable depth. The snag I see is: by the time the root system is advanced enough to hold the compost in the cell together, the tap root will have been restricted. If you open the root -trainer before that, won't the compost crumble away from the root?
My method of growing parsnips is: I rake off the seed bed, and at nine inch stations drop in a little handful of compost. I water each little station, then sow about five seeds per station, and cover them over with a little more compost. Then I know exactly where to look for the seedlings and I only have to thin each station. It works for me.
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Sharon
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A friend of mine uses one ltr milk cartons - they dont disnintigrate for carrots, parsnips, but especially peas, she swears by it.

I just direct sow root crops and use a pencil with a wet tip to pick up one seed at a time. so far so good!
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nemo
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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

if you pre germinate the parsnip seed on moist kitchen paper in a plastic container,this is then put into the hot press after a few weeks a little root appears these can be then put into loo roll centres with the root pointing down .each loo roll has its own seed the loo rolls are put into the hot press until the seedling appears.as soon as the seedlings appear put then in a sunny window sill.after a few weeks you can start hardening them off before planting out .it is a lot of work but there is nothing nicer than seeing evenly spaced parsnip plants in the veg bed,no spaces no thinning and perfect shaped roots
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berginhart
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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I pregerminated some parsnip seed on kitchen paper in a plastic lunch box and then moved them onto newspaper pots after a while most - but not all grew into little plants and I have now planted these into my allotment . I have also planted a few rows in the traditional manner - direct sown in rows with 3 seeds to a station just to compare.
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Blowin
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to all for your helpful comments and, relating them to my handful of successes, I can appreciate their validity.

My attempts with the parsnips were little more than a disaster with no more than 5% success. Those that actually did germinate - I planted 4-5 seeds per plug - were transplanted and look great but the small number weren't worth the effort. I'll try some of your suggestions next year.

However, the same experiment with swedes was hugely succesful and one packet next year will be more than enough

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