Seedlings are young plants that are grown from seeds in nurseries and then transplanted into the ground. They require special care and attention to ensure that they develop into healthy and productive plants.
The first step in caring for permaculture seedlings is to prepare the soil. The soil must be loose, well-drained, and rich in organic matter. This will provide the seedlings with the nutrients they need to grow and develop strong roots. Before planting the seedlings, it is important to remove any weeds or debris from the soil. This will prevent competition for nutrients and space.
Additionally, it is helpful to add compost or other organic matter to the soil. This will improve soil structure, fertility, and water-holding capacity. If the soil is lacking in nutrients, it may be necessary to add fertilizer. However, it is important to use organic fertilizers rather than synthetic ones, as synthetic fertilizers can harm soil organisms and disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem.
The second important aspect of permaculture seedling care is watering. Seedlings require consistent moisture to develop properly, but they can be sensitive to over-watering or under-watering. It is important to water seedlings regularly, but not excessively. The soil should be moist but not soggy. Over-watering can lead to root rot and other diseases, while under-watering can cause stunted growth or even death.
One way to ensure consistent moisture is to use a drip irrigation system. This will deliver water directly to the roots of the seedlings, reducing water loss due to evaporation or runoff. Alternatively, hand-watering can be done using a watering can or hose with a gentle spray nozzle. It is important to water the seedlings early in the day, before the heat of the sun causes evaporation.
Protection from Pests
The third point of permaculture seedling care is protecting the plants from pests, which cause significant damage to young seedlings, both above and below ground. There are several ways to protect seedlings from pests:
Use row covers: Row covers are lightweight fabrics that can be placed over the seedlings to protect them from insects and other pests.
Plant companion plants, grown alongside the main crop to help deter pests. For example, planting marigolds with tomatoes can help repel nematodes.
Use organic pest control: If pests are still a problem, there are several organic pest control methods that can be used. For example, spraying a solution of neem oil and water can help control aphids and other insects.
Pest control also relies on natural balance, so please make careful observations before taking action; it is also preferable to use multiple solutions for each problem, as stacking functions brings added value to your project.
The fourth aspect of permaculture seedling care is pruning. Pruning is the process of removing unwanted or damaged parts of the plant. This can include removing dead or diseased branches, as well as removing excess growth to encourage stronger, healthier growth.
Pruning can be done using pruning shears or scissors. It is important to make clean cuts to prevent damage to the plant. Additionally, it is important to avoid pruning too much, as this can stunt growth or even kill the plant.
The final aspect of permaculture seedling care is mulching. Mulching involves covering the soil around the seedlings with a layer of organic material, such as leaves, straw, or compost. This helps to retain moisture in the soil, encourage soil activity, speed up the decomposition of organic material and allow the growth of mycorrhizal fungi, which greatly fortify the immune system of all the plants.
Depending on your climate, mulching materials will differ, and their availability throughout the year needs to be accounted for. As your project grows, we encourage you to grow your own mulch, in the garden, either as cover crops (during the rest period), or interplants.