Delicate Roots

True Lemon Cucumber SeedlingLast week we had lows dipping into the 30s and this week we hit 91 degrees. The farmer’s tan has commenced.

This afternoon the remaining pots were prepped (emptied of old dirt, cleaned, sprayed with foul-smelling organic anti-fungal, lined with a couple inches of evil styrofoam, filled with organic dirt, pre-watered, and topped with a tomato cage) and planted.

Very happy Boothby Blonde and True Lemon cucumbers from Happy Cat Organics have taken up residence on the little blue deck and have been surrounded with one orange cosmo each (to help attract bees), Swiss chard, and lettuce.  Rather than using the horribly ugly jury-rigged bamboo trellis that was employed last year, POD sprang for a few more tomato cages to enclose the cucumbers and melons. One suspects it’ll be easier to train the climbers with the additional support.

For those of you who started your cucumbers or melons from seed, you’ll want to carefully transplant them, disturbing the roots as little as possible. (Peat pots can be planted directly, but alas, they generally suck.)

Last year two plants per 5-gallon bucket were given the go-ahead but this year, once the seedlings have survived the transplant, only one will be allowed to continue. (When last year’s plants were removed from the buckets they were pretty rootbound. And, since fungi and mildew always seem to attack them, the extra air circulation may come in handy as well). Because the root systems of cucurbits are pretty touchy, resist yanking the doomed seedling from the dirt — just nip it off at the soil line.

As POD had run out of space (and energy) indoor seed-starting, the melons were direct seeded this afternoon. Happy summer.

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2 responses to “Delicate Roots

  1. Quick question: can you give me your thoughts about why peat pots suck? I purchased Rosemary and lavender plants recently and they were in the peat pots. I tried removing as much of it as I could, but the roots were hanging on pretty tight.

    So any insight would be great! We’re working on our balcony garden right now :)

    • Generally, I love buying plants in peat pots but I’ve discovered that I have less luck starting seeds in peat pots. (No matter how vigilant I am about watering, they always seem to dry out. The plants also seem to too rapidly out-grow the 3″ containers and require re-potting — which just seems like a waste time, energy, and resources to me.) When planting store-bought peat pots I do exactly what you have done: remove as much of the pot as possible. They say you can pop them, pots and all, into the ground, but I’ve found that doesn’t work particularly well in practice. At the very least I’ve found that removing the bottom of the pot is essential. You’ll also want to gently loosen the roots to help stimulate growth as well. Water well. Happy Planting!

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