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The torch of doubt and chaos, this is what the sage steers by.

Keeping Seedlings Alive

What to do with these tiny plants until the weekend.

The folks at Greyhound called or you have a card in your mailbox telling you that you have a parcel.

Don’t let it sit there. One hour at 25 C or so ages them more than a day at 15 C. As soon as they are above about 5 C they start using sugars stored in their buds and leaves. If too much of this gets used, before the leaves start making new food, they are more likely to die. The warmer it is, the faster these chemical reactions occur.

Once they are out of the freezer, we have a race condition: Get them in the ground before they use up all the reservers in their cells.

Everything happens slower at cold temps. Ideal is to store them just above freezing, in humid conditions so they don’t dry. There is danger of mold if you do this too long.

With plugs, you can open the box, set the plugs upright on old carpet. Set up a smart sprinkler timer to water briefly (2-3 minutes) several times a day. I set mine for 10:00, 1:00, 4:00 and 7:00

With bare root, open the bundles and pack into pails or pots filled with peat moss, sand, sawdust, or garden soil. Sawdust should not be fresh pine sawdust. The turpentine kills roots. Chainsaw sawdust from where you’ve been bucking up poplar and birch into firewood last fall is perfect.

First watering should be with a hose and nozzle to push the mix between the roots. Bundles that are under 2 inches in diameter can be left whole. Larger bundles will require breaking up. Otherwise they leave open spaces betweein the roots in the middle.

Set this up in dense shade. North side of a building, under a spruce tree. You want some light. You are trying to stretch out the waking up process. If the buds break, but the leaves stay pale green or white, you don’t have enough light.

I set up a electric water timer to run an oscillating sprinkler 4 times a day for 3-5 minutes to water my seedling patch. Watering is set at 10:00 a.m., 1:00, 4:00, and 7 p.m. Start time was chosen because that was when it started getting warm. The 7 p.m. one takes them through the warm part of the evening.

Got something to say? Email me: sfinfo@sherwoods-forests.com

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Want to talk right now? Talk to me: (8 am to 8 pm only, please) 1-780-848-2548

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Copyright © 2008 - 2018 S. G. Botsford

Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.