DIY the best bet for grow­ing new seedlings

NewsMail - Wide Bay Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - Peter and Bevly Hughes

OWNER-op­er­a­tor of one of Aus­tralia’s largest seedling pro­duc­tion en­ter­prises Adrian Ross spoke at Kan­danga re­cently about some of the is­sues in­volved in small scale pro­duc­tion.

Mr Ross, of Tiaro’s Wide Bay Seedlings which pro­duces about 50 mil­lion seedlings a year, said if you were in­ter­ested in grow­ing or­gan­ics then it re­ally was a mat­ter of do­ing your own.

“For large scale seedling grow­ers the or­ganic mar­ket is too small to han­dle,” he said.

“Our pro­duc­tion is geared to very large scale with some grow­ers tak­ing 50,000 seedlings per week.”

Mr Ross said the seedling mar­ket was largely con­trolled by the chem­i­cal com­pa­nies who owned the ge­netic rights to the seeds.

“There are no ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied plants in­volved in hor­ti­cul­ture,” he said. “All plants have been de­vel­oped by cross­ing to get cer­tain de­sired char­ac­ter­is­tics.”

Asked about the use of com­post for seed plant­ing, Mr Ross said Wide Bay Seedlings used a peat im­ported from Lithua­nia mixed with ver­mi­culite or per­lite that gave a nu­tri­tion­ally neu­tral pot­ting mix.

“We can add any nu­tri­tion re­quired,” he said. “Like a slow re­lease that lasts till the seedlings are ready to put in the ground.”

Thirty mil­lime­tres of pot­ting mix is placed in each cell and a vac­uum-op­er­ated ma­chine puts a seed into each cell.

Trays are wa­tered un­til a drop of wa­ter ap­pears at the bot­tom of each cell, then placed in ger­mi­na­tion rooms un­til the first signs of ger­mi­na­tion be­fore be­ing moved to an out­door area.

In some cases, re­tractable roof tun­nel house are used to cre­ate enough warmth dur­ing the night.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

LARGE SCALE: Adrian Ross from Wide Bay Seedlings sells across the coun­try.

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