Some while ago I was fortunate enough to receive a package of self-saved seeds from my blogging friend Diana, who is currently living in Australia. Amongst the seeds were some Aquilegia ones.
I currently have a bit of a craze on Aquilegias, so I was keen to sow those seeds. This was some time ago (06 April) and the seedlings had grown big enough to be pricked out.
Note:"Pricking-out" is the gardening term for transferring small seedlings from the seed-tray or container in which they were sown, to individual pots of their own.]
So here we are with all the kit ready to go (apart from a bag of compost...)
In the foreground you can see an array of dibbers. You need something like this to assist with the task. The green one is a purpose-made dibber, but the black one is just a plastic tent-peg. I actually prefer the home-made one cut from a piece of bamboo cane.
The first step was to gently tip the whole pot of seedlings out onto the work surface. You could if you preferred ease each one of the seedlings out of the container separately, but I felt that mine were too intertwined to make this an attractive option.
I chose a few of the strongest-looking specimens. You can see that they already had pretty strong root systems.
I filled six 7.5cm pots with compost and watered it well, so that the compost was evenly moist but not too wet. I used my dibber to make a deep cavity in the centre of each pot of compost.
I then used the dibber to transfer one seedling into each pot, taking care not to damage it in transit. It's best to hold the plant by a leaf, rather than the stem or root. If a leaf gets damaged the plant can grow another one, but if stem or root is damaged the plant will probably not survive.
Gently easing the roots down into the cavity with the dibber I then pressed the damp compost around the plant. I made sure not to cover the growing point (the top of the short stem, from which the long straggly leaves emerge).
So there we are - Six of the Best, all pricked out.
I have put this tray inside one of my mini-greenhouses for now. We are experiencing some cool dull weather with strong winds at present, and I want to give the seedlings some shelter until they are well established.
Naturally, being the sort of person I am, I could not bear to discard the remaining seedlings (there were probably about another 15 or 16 of them), I just planted them out in clumps amongst the mature pink and blue Aquilegia plants near my back door.
This is a fairly 'adverse' environment for the poor things - dry, stony soil in an area that gets very little direct sunlight - but you know how it is, they will probably do better than the six selected to be the A-team!
Diana didn't tell me what type / colour the Aquilegia seeds she sent me are, so I have to be patient and wait till next year to find out. With a bit of luck there might be lots of different ones.