Grow your seedlings

Many of us are afraid of growing plants from seeds because we think it is too difficult or time-consuming. This should not be so.
According to Brighton Onyango who is in charge of the nursery and plant propagation at Plants for Africa on Kasenyi Road in Buziga, all you have to do is collect the seeds from the main plant but ensure they are dry.
Then prepare the planting media. You can plant them in a seed bed, under a tree or in a greenhouse, depending on the nature of the place. Most of the ones we grow here are under trees. The shade gives them a good atmosphere for shooting and rooting.

How to plant them
“We plant them in bags, where we put cocopeat or sand. Their aeration is almost the same. Their particles are loose and ease root formation. Cocopit is expensive. We import it from Kenya in five kilogramme blocks of about $50 (Shs148,500) each.”
But sand is cheaper and more available, so we revert to it.
We get it from the lake at Shs150,000 per truck. If someone wants a bit of sand to use in their garden, we can provide that. We give it to you in a polythene bag. It can cost about Shs3,000 to Shs5,000, but sometimes it is free.
We purchase the bags from Industrial Area in Kampala. If you want a few for your home, a 25 kilogramme bag can go for Shs300.

Monitoring
After planting the seeds, monitor them by watering keenly. Most seeds do not need a lot of watering. If you water them too much, they will rot. Monitor them every morning and evening. This is because insects can eat them. Determine your planting media depending on the type of seed.
Some will do well in sand, others in cocopit and others in black soil. Knowing which one to use will depend on where you get your seeds from. Ask the person you are getting them from about their behaviour.
After one to three weeks, their roots will have formed. Then the shoots will grow. The shoots will tell you whether the roots are strong or not.
You can tell this from the colour of the leaves. If they are getting greener by the day, it means they have started feeding through the roots. If the colour does not change, it shows you that the roots are not ready.
If a shoot is not feeding well, it will remain yellowish. Remove the ones without roots from the others, because a disease might have affected them.
Do not apply fertiliser at this point because seeds do not have roots. That will come after the roots are strong and the leaves look good. That is when you can transfer the seedling to a place where there is soil mixed with fertiliser in another bag.

Transplanting
Put them under another shade because the leaves will still be too weak for the sun. Transplant them after one to two months, when you notice that the seedlings are growing properly.
Pour a lot of water in your planting media to ease their removal. You don’t want to interfere with the roots which may still be too weak. Then squeeze the media to loosen the seedlings and pull them out one after the other.
Transplant them straightaway to other bags with fertiliser and where you have watered a bit.
Do this mostly in the evenings. For a 25 kilogramme bag of normal soil, mix three spades of manure.
So there, you don’t need to spend on purchasing and transporting seedlings when you can get the seeds from a neighbour and do the needful.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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