Wean plants grown in soil-less compost

Some people always have difficulty remembering which plants like to pretend they are still living in the Sahara from those which prefer life in a puddle. Golden rule number one is that succulent plants (including cacti) need far less water to survive than the rest. 
  Golden rule number two is that plants grown in soil-less composts in plastic pots are going to need far less water to survive than those grown in clay pots.

Many plants that are bought in soil-less composts, like Pro-mix and plastic pots, started their lives being watered automatically. That means that when they wanted a drink they didn’t have to wait for someone with a watering can to come along and give it to them. It came up through the thin base of the pot from a sand bed already filled with water. The beauty of automatic watering systems is that they allow millions of plants to be grown without having to touch a watering can.

These systems have been developed to such a degree that they hardly ever go wrong. The trouble with automatic watering systems begins when you take plants off the sand bed and their trouble-free watering supply. You then have to wean them. Rather like taking the baby off the breast and onto the corn flakes.

Plants have to be weaned to allow for proper root hairs to develop. If this is not done young plants will not be able to manage the changeover from a period of plentiful supply to having to wait until you get home from the office.  Some people cater for this, and water their plants generously before they go to the office in an attempt to give them sufficient moisture for the day.
This can often drown them.

I found out a long time ago that for me the best way to deal with plants in soil-less composts and plastic pots is to pot them on as soon as possible into larger clay pots, using crocks in the base of the pots for drainage, and the more traditional potting compost. This ensures straight away that the drainage improves and they can form proper root hairs.  It also reduces the chance of drowning them. The other option, of course, is to plant them out as soon as possible if they can be planted out. This gives them a better chance to spread their roots and get away from the generally wet conditions of their root ball.  

Feathered friends  
If you take time to just sit quietly in the garden you would be amazed at the bird activity. Birds are busy creatures and can often be seen flying ‘home’ with beaks full of straw to build or repair their matrimonial home. Are the workers male or female, or is it a cooperative effort?  Later on you can often see them going to their nests with beaks full of insects dug up from the ground, caught in flight or taken from the plants in the garden. A nest of fledglings will probably eat tens of thousands of insects before becoming independent. Our feathered friends, many of them quite tiny, manage to work out the best time-frame for mating, nest-building, laying and hatching eggs so that their young appear at the best time for mum and dad to catch the hundreds of thousands of insects needed to rear their family. How do they know what the weather or what the insect population will be like so many weeks in advance?

There doesn’t seem to be much antagonism or even competition between the various birds species. Some get their food supply from the ground, some from the tree canopy, some from the bark or from smaller shrubs. All levels of the garden’s vegetation seem to be supplying insects, and as I’ve just said, many of them are garden pests. It all helps to reduce our dependence on chemicals for pest control.
Until next week may your God go with you wherever you may be.

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