Propagation

Latest Update 27th August 2017.

Background.
  • I 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.
Small Propagator.
  • 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.
  • I used sieved compost instead of soil, and buried my mini pots up to their rims in this moist and biologically active wicking medium.
  • 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.
  • It 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.
EcoPropagator.
  • 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.
References.