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Sowing and Growing Problems?

HANDY HINT

To reseal packets when you have sown your seed, run down the opened seam with an iron then store your packets in a cool, dark and dry place until you need them again.

 

I SOWED MY SEED AND NOTHING GERMINATED (OR ONLY A FEW SEEDLINGS EMERGED)!

There are many possibilities:
  • Seed has been sown too deeply
  • Ground temperature is too cold
  • Quality of seed raising mix is lacking
  • Seed raising mix (or soil) is too dry or has been allowed to dry out between watering
  • Seed raising mix (or soil) is waterlogged causing the seed to rot.
  • You have pests lurking!  Check out for slugs and snails!
  • Birds have been feasting on the young seedlings (or sprouted seeds like peas).
  • The seed has a special growing requirement such as stratification to break seed dormancy. Check the catalogue or website for further information.
  •  A damping off  fungus may have caused an infection
 

WHY ARE MY CARROTS PRODUCING LOTS OF FORKED ROOTS INSTEAD OF A LARGE TAPERED ROOT?

Carrots perform best when directly sown straight into the garden - they don’t like to be transplanted!
They prefer a well drained, fertile soil that is lump and stone free.
Excess nitrogen can cause them to split, so use well rotted organic matter preferably well ahead of sowing your carrot seed.
 

I'VE GROWN SOME RED AND PURPLE VEGETABLES THIS SUMMER BUT THEY DON'T LOOK LIKE THE PICTURES.

Some coloured vegetables get their colour from plant pigments called anthocyanins and these often produce the deepest colours in cooler weather.
 

WHAT IS THE GREYISH WHITE MOULD ON THE LEAVES OF MY COURGETTES AND CUCUMBERS?

Powdery mildew on cucurbits is quite common with warm and dry conditions.  The good news is that it can be treated by using:
  • Conventional sprays on the market
  • Potassium bicarbonate (available as Eco Carb and Tui Eco)
  • A Milk spray - which has become a popular garden remedy- for an all over coverage, use a ratio of 1 part milk to 9 parts water sprayed at weekly intervals
  • Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) spray - dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 litre of water and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid (1 teaspoon of cooking oil optional). Shake well and spray on to plants getting an all over coverage, about every 7-10 days.
 

HOW CAN I STOP MY CORIANDER BOLTING TO SEED?

Coriander prefers to be directly sown and likes a fertile soil but use aged compost.
Choose a variety that has been selected as a slow bolter such as Kings Seeds ‘Coriander Slow Bolt’
Stress on the plants from heat and drought will encourage it to flower.
Sow in successive batches to ensure continuous supply
Pinching out the flowering head encourages leaf growth with some success.

SNIPPET:  The seed is known as Coriander whereas the leaf is known as Cilantro (not to be confused with Culantro which is a completely different species altogether).

 

CAN YOU SAVE SEED FROM HYBRID VARIETIES?

This is not recommended!
Hybrids have been bred and selected for superior qualities.
Seed collected from the harvest of these varieties, will produce a range of offspring that don’t have the same selected qualities as the original hybrid.
 

WHY IS MY BROCCOLI NOT FORMING A HEAD?

Excessive nitrogen in the soil will cause lots of leafy growth and can undermine healthy head development.
Avoid stress on plants and water well.
Stress on young seedlings, very cold/wet conditions can sometimes cause heads not to reach their potential. 
After the central head has been cut, stem will produce new side florets which can also be harvested.
 

HOW DO I GROW WATERCRESS SUCCESSFULLY?

Several ways have proved successful:
  • Sow into pots and keep the pots very moist
  • Sow seeds onto a layer of moist mix in a large container - as the watercress grows, gradually introduce more water which can be continuously refreshed or overflowed.
  • Sow into pots, sitting inside larger pots full of water, then refresh to prevent water becoming stagnant.
 

HOW DO I TREAT EGGPLANTS?

Eggplants prefer a hot and sheltered position.
They are heavy feeders needing a well fertilised soil and additional regular liquid feeding to produce sturdy plants and good fruit production.  
Additional potash or ash will help fruiting.
Flowers set best at temperatures above 21°C.
Staking can be useful as large eggplants can weigh the plant down.
Keep well watered especially while fruit is setting - drying out may discourage or produce inferior fruits. Mulching can help retain the moisture.
Harvest fruits before they become bitter - when they are firm and glossy - well picked plants will encourage more fruiting.
 

WHY HAVE MY ONIONS BOLTED TO SEED?

Onions are a biennial plant. They can prematurely flower if they are exposed to fluctuating cold and warm temperatures.  They can go in and out of dormancy and when they resume growth they begin to bolt bringing an end to their life cycle.
Onion varieties vary in the length of day required to make a bulb:
  • Short day onions start forming bulbs when daylight hours are 10 - 13 hours
  • Long day onions start forming bulbs when daylight hours are 14 - 16 hours  
Choose a variety of onion that suits your location best.
 

WHEN SHOULD I HARVEST MY PUMPKINS/SQUASH, WATERMELON AND ROCKMELON/CANTALOUPE?

 

Pumpkins & Squash

Summer Squash have soft skin and can be eaten immediately after picking.
Winter Squash and Pumpkins have hardened skin and can be left on the vines until the vines shrivel, or cut off and cured in the sun to toughen skin before being stored.  

Watermelons

When you knock on them they make a characteristic dull hollow sound.
Colouration on underside of melon changes from white to yellow.
The leaf closest to the fruit shrivels and dies.

Rockmelons/Cantaloupe

The size of a melon can indicate it is ripe.
It has a characteristic aroma.
Stem looks cracked or shrivelled and the melon should break away from stem with a light twist.
 

DO I HAVE TO SOAK PEAS AND BEANS BEFORE SOWING?

Soaking seed overnight softens the seed coat and hastens germination.
But it isn’t essential, water well when sowing seed.
 

CAN I SOW TWO SWEET CORN VARIETIES TOGETHER?

Sweet corn is wind pollinated and is best planted in blocks to give the best opportunity for pollen from male flowers to reach the female tassels. 
When growing more than one variety of sweet corn make sure the super sweet corn hybrids are separated from other varieties to prevent cross pollination which will cause the kernels to be tough and starchy.
Corn is ready when the silks at the end of the cob wither and turn brown and if you squeeze a kernel it has a creamy sap. 
 

IF I GROW HYBRID CUCUMBERS, CAN I GROW OTHERS TOO?

Standard cucumbers are monoecious plants and have separate male and female flowers on the same plant with only female flowers producing fruit.
Gynoecious varieties of cucumber are special hybrids which produce predominantly female flowers and produce an abundance of fruit.
(Seeds of a standard monoecious variety may be included in the seed packet to act as a pollinizer).
All cucumber varieties can cross pollinate.
The quality of that crop of cucumbers is not affected but the offspring from the seed will be variable.
Parthenocarpic varieties of cucumber develop fruit without pollination.
These non-fertilized fruit do not contain seeds.
Parthenocarpic varieties must be isolated from standard varieties to prevent cross-pollination as seed development will     take place in that crop.
 
Cucumbers stressed by hot and dry weather can be bitter.  Choose varieties bred to minimise this characteristic.
Cold, wet weather can be the cause of ineffective pollination, so can the lack of bee activity, which may result in blossom drop, misshapen fruit, fruit abortion and reduction of harvest.
 

SHOULD I STAKE DWARF/BUSH TOMATOES?

Dwarf/Bush tomatoes have a compact growth habit and should be relatively self supporting.
However they could benefit from some support if the branches are fragile from the weight of fruit or there is risk of wind damage.
 

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