potting on Question

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by bughut, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. bughut

    bughut

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    The books all tell me, when I pot on my seedlngs that I shouldnt touch the 2nd leaves, or the stem, but handle the first leaves ...But they never say why?

    I can see the stems are covered in fine hairs and i can understand how my chunky finger could do some damage. But why cant the 2nd leaves be touched?

    Also, Im hoping beyond hope that I still have rosemary this year, after our bad frost killed my Fabulous patch. I'm having to cut down a huge dried,brown thatch of it tomorrow. Does anyone know if the stumps will grow back, or should I  call it quits. I'm tempted to leave at least one stump to see what will happen.

    I would really appreciate your info and advice

    Bugs
     
  2. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I've never heard that advice, Bughut, but I can see why it's given.

    The second set of leaves are actually the first set of true leaves. So the idea probably is to not handle them, because of possible damage. If you hurt the first set no harm is done.

    That said, it's rare that I have to touch the seedlings at all. When you bump them (i.e., repot), there should be a soil ball. Try and confine your handling to that.

    In cases where I don't have a soil ball, such as the first time I bump tomatoes, I handle them by the stem. What I do is enclose the crown in my hand, and lightly grasp the stem just under it with my thumb & index finger. I use my left hand for that, holding the seedling in place in the new pot, while using my right hand to feed potting media into the pot.

    As to the rosemary, with I had an answer. I'm in the same boat. Everything else has put out new growth, but the rosemary is just sitting there looking sad and bare. I'm hoping that it survived. If not, time to start anew. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/frown.gif
     
  3. fr33_mason

    fr33_mason

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    The second set is the first set of true leaves.  It is also the growing point of the newly emerged plant which is known as the meristem it contains, for lack of better analogy, 'stem cells' . Any damage to this growing point can result in the death or prolonged development of the plant.  To be honest, I wait untill the second set of true leaves are formed and then I will cut the plant back to the first set and this produces two meristems.  Repeat this process a few times on the newly formed stems and by the time you have a half mature plant, you will have a compact, bushy plant.  works very well for stem plants such as thyme, basil, rosemary, sage, etc.
     
  4. fr33_mason

    fr33_mason

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    I just noticed the second part of your question.  Simply, when you cut back the 'dead' plant material, check for green color on the stems that you just cut.  If they look just as dead and brown as the leaves, keep cutting back until either you have signs of life.  If you get near the base of the plant (3 - 4") and there is still no signs of life or possible signs of life, I would suggest transplanting it to the compost heap.
     
  5. bughut

    bughut

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    I was re-potting my tomatoes and chillies today and your advice on handling the root ball worked most comfortably KYH. The few that needed to be seperated from their original peat pots, i teased apart holding the first leaves.

    I have so many babies Fr33_mason that i will be trying your system on a couple, to produce more meristems. Sounds scary but well worth a go. I'm a total novice at gardening and I have some precious heirlooms to care for. Despite KYH's advice to the contrary, I cant help but worry about my precious cargo.

    Rosemary looks like a dead loss, but I'm giving it 2 weeks before i look for replacements...Ever hopeful :)
     
  6. fr33_mason

    fr33_mason

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    I just wanted to make sure that you do not confuse the cotyledon (emergant leaves) with true leaves.  The cotyledons are the first set that come out of the soil and are usually round in shape.  

     It is the second set which will have the characteristic shape of the plant that you are growing.  What I am saying is to wait until the second set of true leaves has fully formed and you can see the third set begining to form.  That is the time to cut back to the first set. 

      I do this so that the main branches are formed near the base of the plant and it does not develop into a top heavy specimen. For me, i usually create 4 - 6 meristems that I later prune to develop volume and shape.

     Keep in mind that the pruning will set back your plant's development by around a week per pruning.
     
  7. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I really don't understand all that pruning and training, Fr33-Mason. Not for tomatoes, at any rate. If you want them to grow bushy like that, why not just let them sprawl and be done?

    Besides which, given the number of plants I start, who has time for all that fooling around?

    Herbs, yes. Especially for the home gardener/cook, brushy herbs make much more sense on several levels.

    In England, where many tomatoes are grown in hothouses, meristems are important, because they are trained to grow up strings. But other than that, I don't see the need.
     
  8. fr33_mason

    fr33_mason

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    To clarify, I was not referring to tomatoes, but to herbs, yes.  Did I miss something or was the question aimed at rosemary?

     
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2010
  9. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    That's the problem with touching several points in the same thread, Fr33-Mason. We sometimes confuse ourselves. Bughut was talking about tomatoes and chilies, just before your post, and I thought that's what you were responding to.

    Sorry for the confusion.
     
  10. fr33_mason

    fr33_mason

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    TeeHee...  No problem. Some days I'm just glad I can find the floor when I get out of bed.
     
  11. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Lordy, lord, have I had mornings like that. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/surprised.gif

    But wasn't it Dean Martin who said, "if you can lie on the floor without falling off, you ain't drunk?"