Seek­ing the best gar­den­ing op­tions

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - OPINION - MECHEL WALL Wall­flower Farm

“There are no gar­den­ing mis­takes, only ex­per­i­ments.” — Janet Kil­burn Phillips

It sounded like a good idea. Biodegrad­able peat pots. As I pulled out some of the fall herbs from my raised bed I took out the clump of Thyme and out came al­most the ex­act pot I planted in the late sum­mer. The pot had not bro­ken down, nor had the roots been able to es­cape the pot. In the­ory, biodegrad­able sounds good and prob­a­bly works given the right con­di­tions and length of time but in a home gar­den for an­nual herbs, veg­gies, flow­ers and sin­gle sea­son crops, it leaves the plant root bound and un­able to fully ex­tend to reach wa­ter and nu­tri­ents.

For the home gar­dener, there are bet­ter op­tions. Some of the more cre­ative ones have been to plant a cut­ting/seed or di­vi­sion in a half egg shell. I’ve tried that and it works. I sim­ply crushed the shell be­fore plant­ing. The shell breaks down and pro­vides cal­cium for the grow­ing plant. I’ve never seen egg shells re­main­ing af­ter the sea­son. I use a method called soil block­ing here on our farm. Last year we planted over 15,000 seeds and trans­planted as many seedlings into the long rows on our farm. It is a great method. Once you buy the tools, they’ll last for years. Smaller blocks can be moved up to larger blocks for those seedlings that need more time to grow. When roots reach the edges, the ex­po­sure to air makes them stop, turn or head down. This is called air prun­ing.

A good idea on pa­per isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a prac­ti­cal idea in prac­tice.

•••

Ed­i­tor’s note: Mechel Wall is owner and op­er­a­tor of both The Cot­tage Flower Shop and Wall­flower Farm. She can be con­tacted at blooms@ wallflow­er­farm.net.

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