This blog is about my garden located in Melbourne, Australia, where summer heat and long periods without rain can make gardening a challenge. It is the gateway to a series of my blogs showing you how I deal with these conditions....John Ashworth 22/04/2017.
have used a cold frame to bring on seedlings during winter for many
years, and about 3 years ago I modified it to give all year round
climate and pest protection.
Two years ago I decided to design an improved propagator using wicking bed fundamentals to keep my seedlings moist at all times. I now call this my Small Propagator.
Last year I redesigned the unit to make better use of space and utilise standard hardware store sizes of polycarbonate sheet and 9mm marine plywood. It resulted in twice the capacity with a not much bigger footprint at the expense of portability.
The new unit is called the EcoPropagator, and I will replace the smaller units eventually with a second EcoPropagator. However, I will retain the blogpage describing the small propagator for readers who might like its portability.
I made a very small Ecobed out of a plastic box and built a cold frame to fit neatly around it. Its maximum capacity was about 40 seedlings in their mini pots.
used sieved compost instead of soil, and buried my mini pots
up to their rims in this moist and biologically active wicking
It worked better than I could have imagined and I was able to sow seed or strike cuttings all year round. Germination was quicker and more reliable than before, so I didn't use as much seed, and the seedlings grew faster.
I started to sow larger seeds like peas, beans and pumpkins in small jiffy (fibre) pots to be planted out when ready in the appropriate Ecobeds.
allowed seeds to be sown while the target growing space was tied up
with a mature crop. When the timing is right, the new crop is ready to
plant out soon after the preceding crop is harvested.
Last year I designed the EcoPropagator. Instead of the plastic bin, the new design uses a plastic sheet liner. The walls of the unit support the liner which contains the water tank and wicking media.
These measures optimised the EcoPropagator's capacity and productivity.
Its filled with water about once a week in hot summer
weather, and hardly ever in the cooler months.
I keep the compost
topped up as it continues to decompose, and will replace it completely every
year in spring.