Friday, 27 April 2012
Hello and welcome to April's Salad Days, our monthly get together to see how everyone's been getting on with their Salad Challenge :)
April's miserable weather here in the UK has seen plant growth slow right down after March's unseasonal warmth. Ironically it also means there's been no need to use hosepipes during their ban! This must be the wettest drought in living memory ;)
For me, allotment time is taking precedence between the showers, so I've been trying some quick experimental salad growing on the windowsill this month.
I've been given some biochar seed compost to trial and having a couple of identical little trays to hand, I decided to compare rocket sown using the biochar in one tray and John Innes seed compost in the other. The biochar tray is the one on the right.
I put the same amount of seed compost and then sowed 80 rocket seeds (from a freshly opened packet) as evenly spaced as I could on each tray. I covered the seeds and watered lightly. Initially I used a little water sprayer so that the compost was relatively undisturbed.
Germination was quick. 49 seeds (61%) germinated in the John Innes tray and just 29 (36%) on the biochar. As you can see the biochar seedlings are much larger now, but this could be because their lower germination rate means they have much more room to grow and compost to draw nutrients from.
If you look very carefully at the biochar tray, you can also see a small white patch at the bottom right. I think this might be the mycorrhizal fungi showing through (this is one of the other additives used in the biochar compost mix and is a beneficial soil organism).
Soon I'll be transferring the seedlings to pots to see how they fare. I have some biochar to trial for this stage too.
As an experiment it's too small a sample size and there's too many variables at play to draw firm conclusions. For a proper trial, I would need to start with exactly the same compost base and then add some biochar to half of the compost to see what effect it has on germination and growth. However, it was an enjoyable little experiment to do and soon I'll be eating the results :)
How are you faring with your salad this month? Are you trying anything new compost or salad-wise?
Mr Linky is set up below for your posts for April. NB our next Salad Days will be on May 25th.
BTW @FennelandFern has let me know that May is National Salad Month. This is a USA based campaign which has been going for 20 years and is designed to celebrate freshly prepared food, especially salad. The Taste Spotting blog has a salad making challenge set up for next Monday/Tuesday in which you might want to take part. We won't be able to use the salad brand featured, but I'm sure we can do MUCH better with our home grown stuff!