Friday 2 August 2013

Today we began a trial of professional peat-free growing media.  We have 9 different types, each sown with:

LETTUCE-Maureen (little gem type)

CHINESE CABBAGE-Kaboko

CABBAGE-Caraflex (pointed Spring cabbage)

We have 8 organic media and one conventional X 3 crops X 4 reps = 108 trays

The trays were filled by hand, then sown using our automatic Visser sowing line.  The trays will remain in the germination room for 3 days. In hot weather, lettuce seed is prone to thermo-dormancy, so it's better to germinate at a constant 16°C.  It's also difficult to manage the watering if the trays are laid out in the greenhouse, when temperatures can reach 43°C. We want to give optimum conditions for germination so that any differences we measure in germination and emergence will be due to the growing media.

Once the seed has chitted, we will lay the trays out in randomized blocks on a concrete floor. Watering will be via gantry, which is very uniform. We will water (and later feed, if required) according to the needs of each product.

I will post results and pictures on this blog, but the test media will be referred to by code number only until the end of the trial. Thanks are due to the growing media manufacturers who provided samples free of charge.

With the help of the Soil Association, we are planning to write a full report. It's also possible to post trays of the plants at the end of the trial. If you are willing to test how well the plants pull from the trays and establish in organic fields, please contact me: jill@delfland.co.uk