Precision Sowers and Supports for Leeks and Onions
2nd Dec 1998
Supports for the flags of Leeks and Onions
When I was at the Harrogate Show last September a gentleman came up to me with a cheap but very effective method of supporting the flags or leaves of leek and onion plants when growing in their pots in the greenhouse. The idea really hit me between the eyes, I was amazed at it's simplicity and wondering why I hadn't thought of it myself. It's easily made, anyone can put it together, all you require is a strip of grooved plastic and a spring type clothes peg.
The proper name I believe for this grooved plastic is Cable Ties and is used for numerous jobs, particularly for tying together different types of cables and they are available in various lengths which you can use for different size plants. There is a lock on one end where you usually push the end of the cable tie through, in this case you can cut that lock off. They are cheap to buy as well, in my Viking office catalogue you can get them from as little £1.99 per bundle of 100 small ones up to £5.69 for the larger type.
To assemble, push one end of the tie with the groove upwards, on top of the clothes peg and underneath the steel spring. You do the same with the other end but underneath the spring on the other side of the peg. The spring then sits in one of the grooves and you can pull it through either way thereby reducing or increasing the diameter of the plant support ring. All you do then is slip it over the foliage, squeeze open the peg and release it on to a split cane which means you can raise or lower it up and down the cane as the plant grows.
You can cut the plastic to various lengths depending on the diameter of the supporting circle that you require and it"s so cheap to make that you can easily afford two per plant if necessary. I would like to know what you think of this simple idea and although I have forgotten the gentleman's name, I'm sure many of you will be glad to have received his idea and to thank him for it. There's no doubt that the simplest ideas are very often the best, if you have an idea or tip that will help other readers, doesn't matter how silly you might think it is, let me know and you might it see it mentioned in this column.
Precision Seed Sower
Another invention that caught my eye at the Shepton Mallet show was the Precision Seed Sower which allows you, very effectively to pick up the tiniest of seeds and position them accurately on top of the compost. Can you imagine trying to sow lobelia and petunia seed individually? Well Middlesex Woodcrafts who have invented this simple gadget say that it can. When I saw it being demonstrated, I immediately thought it might come in very useful when sowing my onion seed, a job that I shall be doing in a few weeks time.
With the Precision Sower you can accurately space the onion seed on top of the compost giving each germinating onion seedling the same amount of space to fully develop to it's full potential. More importantly there is no need to transplant the onions which is always a time consuming job, and if you use the Levington F2 professional range compost, there is sufficient nutrients in that to keep the seedling growing until potting up time later on.
The seed sower comes complete with two different sizes of probe as well as a strong carry case, the makers claim that it's perfectly safe to use as it's fitted with a 400 micron filter. This filter is fitted to a mouth piece from a smokers pipe which in turn is attached to one of the probes through a small bore plastic flexible pipe. All you do is to pour the seed from the packet on to a saucer or similar receptacle, and with the mouth piece suck up gently each seed and drop it on top of the compost.
The company claims the following benefits, Very easy to use with finger tip control - accurate for sowing expensive seeds - less wastage of seeds - no growth checking of seedling - less cost for seed compost and less time and effort required. It's available from Middlesex Woodcrafts, 41 The Greenway, Ickenham, Middlesex. UB10 8LS or phone them on 01895 675 070, the price is £15.75 inc. P&P.
The company is prepared to give away ten of these Precision Sowers free to the first ten correct answers to the following question, Which is the smallest of all the vegetable seed?