Flat Soil

You are now ready to prepare the soil in which to grow seedlings. A good simple flat soil mix is one part sifted compost and one part bed soil (saved from the first trench when you double-dug) by volume. "Old" flat soil, which has been used to raise seedlings, can be stored in a bin. Although some of the nutrients will have been depleted, it will still be rich in nutrients and organic matter, so it can be used to make a new flat mix. In this case, the recipe would be one part old flat soil, one part sifted compost, and one part bed soil. Compost for the flat soil mix should be passed through a sieve of V2-inch or Vi-inch wire fabric. As your bed soil and your compost improve, your flat soil and seedlings also will improve.

Remember to completely fill your flat with soil, or even mound it slightly above the edge of the flat, so the seedlings will have as much depth as possible to grow in. If available, line the bottom of the flat with a Vs-inch layer of oak leaf mold (partially

A seedling flat.

Half-sized flats are easier to carry. This shallow flat, with evenly moist flat soil and plants, weighs about 22V2 pounds.

Half-sized flats are easier to carry. This shallow flat, with evenly moist flat soil and plants, weighs about 22V2 pounds.

A half-sized deep flat (6 inches deep) ensures a manageable weight. This flat, with evenly moist flat soil and plants, weighs about 45 pounds.

Pricking Out

Lift the first seedling out of the first flat.
Open the planting space in the new flat while . . .
. . . placing the seedling in the hole.
Gently sweep the soil into the hole.
Evenly spaced pricked-out seedlings. 68 SEED PROPAGATION

decayed oak leaves) for drainage and additional nutrients. You may place crushed eggshells above the oak leaf mold for calcium-loving plants such as carnations and members of the cabbage family. Lightly sprinkle the eggshells to cover V4 of the total surface area.

Alan Chadwick's classic planting mixture for starting seeds in flats is one part each by weight: evenly moist compost (sifted, if possible), sharp (gritty) sand, and turf loam. These three ingredients provide a fertile, loose-textured mixture. Turf loam is made by composting sections of turf grass grown in good soil. The sections of grass are composted alternating grass sides together and soil sides together within the pile (see the illustration, opposite). Good garden soil, from the first trench of a double-dug bed, for example, can be substituted for turf loam. Thoroughly mix the compost, sand, and garden soil or turf loam and place them in the flat on top of the oak leaf mold.

Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn't know what to do? Here are the best tips on how to become a true and envied organic gardner.

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