Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Apple Diary - Part 2

Hey hey folks!

The little orchard has certainly seen some drama over the last month.

A couple of days after the last instalment my seven happy apple sproutlings were joined by 3 more. With the 28 cox seeds and 10 chilli seeds I'd just planted the top of my dresser was starting to get pretty crowded. Due to not having enough pots, I'd gone and and made my own seed trays out of cut down plastic milk bottles with scored bases to allow drainage.

I was pleasantly surprised two weeks later to find the first chilli sprout coming through. When the cardboard seed holders that they'd been planted with ( as per instructions on the packet) started growing furry I was worried that the soil was bad. This was the same pot and soil my aloe vera had been in when it failed, but within three days of the first sprout appearing, six happy little chilli plants were standing tall.  Their pot was the closest to the radiator so I'm guessing they had just enough warmth coming through to encourage them.

Impatiently I waited for the cox sprouts to make their appearance. A little over 3 weeks after planting the first one popped it's head through the soil, and the next day a seventh chilli sprout joined the pot.

And then nothing. As we saw with the batch 1, once one sproutling comes through the rest usually follow quite quickly. But not this time. I can only presume that the weather had gotten too cold. Goodness knows there were a few nights were I was shivering under my duvet, so it may have been too cold for the other seeds to germinate. So I wrapped the pots in clingfilm to give them a bit more insulation, and placed a blanket over them a short distance from the radiator.

On Sunday night I was delighted to see another sprout appear. Still no sign of life from the rest of them, so I'm not sure whether to just give up on them and go buy a real propagator for batch 3, or to just leave them and see if eventually something else comes through.

Random scientific observation for you here. When the royal gala sprouts emerged from their seeds, they all had two lovely big leaves. The coxs however sprout with one big leaf and two smaller ones.

About the time we started radiator therapy on batch 2 I began putting the gala and chilli sprouts by the window to get them a bit more sunlight. A strange little fellow had popped up in one of the gala pots.

I can only presume that little Stumpy here was planted too deep and that his nice big seed leaves are still under the soil. He's grown very little, and I was really hoping that the extra sunlight would encourage him to put out some nice big leaves, but so far nothing, and the ominous brown tinge he's taking on around soil level makes me think he's heading for the same fate as one of the other batch 1 sproutlings.

Yesterday I was very saddened to see one of the tallest sprouts had flopped over. At soil level the stalk had turned brown and soft although it was still nice and healthy below the surface level and above. The soil around the stalk had developed a yellow colour to it, possibly some sort of fungus which I immediately dug out to protect the other sprout in the pot. I cut the dying sprout off above the discolouration and after digging out the root, replaced the healthy part of the stalk in the soil. I know it's unlikely, but I'm hoping it might put out new roots.

Four of the sproutlings that were planted in a Philadelphia tub have also started developing brown spots on their leaves and generally looking a bit wilty. They've been moved back to the dresser rather than the window sill, in case it's the cold that's causing them to struggle.

So not quite where I was expecting to be with this little orchard at this point, but it's all a learning curve.
At present the total stands at 7 healthy looking sprouts across batch 1 and 2, and 7 very happy looking chilli sprouts.

We also had a nice fertile aloe vera join us over Christmas, along with a 6 year old oak sapling (it's been in a pot all its life, hence the size) courtesy of my aunt and uncle who wanted good homes for them when they moved house.

The oak sapling was originally part of a project started by my secondary school back in 1997. Every student was given an acorn and told to plant it and nurture it. The resulting trees would be planted on the grounds of the school as part of a millennium regeneration project. But the staff forgot all about it. My uncle had nurtured two acorns for me, which we donated to the school shortly before I left. This little one however was just to see if we could get another one to grow after the success of the other two.
It's now sat quite happily on a sheltered ledge in the garden where it has already weathered 3 days of gales.

The aloe vera on the other hand is trying to take over my dresser top. Since I've had it it's grown 3 new little sprouts on the stem which, once they're a bit bigger I will transfer to their own pots.

It's going to be interesting to see where we're at in a months time!

By the way, last week my latest article went up on Milliver's Travels, Sunrise at Rangitukia, New Zealand.