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Rhodes, Greece Gr

Hi, I potted Allyson, sweet peas and Lobelia from seed on the 14 Apr this year, but nothing has grown apart from the sweetpea. Now they are covered in tiny black flies (I thought were mosquitoes, but obviously not) my sweetpeas are dying from the roots and the leaves have holes in them. I'm a novice gardener, so any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

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How warm is the weather getting now, Damo? Sweet peas like cool to only moderately warm conditions. Where I live they are winter annuals, and ours fizzled out a month ago. Also, that is some pretty chunky looking potting compost. Do you remember exactly what the bag said? "Planting Mix" and "Soil Conditioner" don't usually work well as potting compost, especially in warm weather. I would look for the word "Potting" on the bag, though I don't know what the Greek equivalent might be!

1 Jun, 2017


Hi Tugbrethil, thanks for your reply. The temperature here is 31* Celsius. I used potting compost and they are in the shade, but I used the same bag of potting compost for lobelia, allisum, a small fushia and aubretia and sowed them all on the 14 Apr and nothing has sprouted. The sweet peas, fushia and the compost covering the seeds are covered in tiny black flying insects. I have thrown the fushia and sweet peas in the bin, because I was concerned they may kill my other plants. I'm new to gardening, so I need all the advice I can get. I'm so disappointed. I ordered the seeds online and was quite excited to watch them grow. It's very difficult trying to explain the problem here as my Greek isn't that good. I don't know if it's too late in the year to try again, what do you think?

Thank you very much

2 Jun, 2017


Did you keep the seed pans well watered? Seeds won't germinate in dry compost and ordinary potting compost does tend to dry out easily. The little insects were probably fungus gnats and you can find lots about them on line. They can possible damage seedlings indoors but not normally outside. They feed on decaying matter in the compost so possibly a better grade of compost which is completely rotted down might not attract them, or you might find a seed sowing compost designed for the job..

Sweet peas could possibly germinate more easily if you soak them for a few hours before planting.

What a shame that you threw the little plants away - they would have had no effect at all on your seeds. You can safely buy another little fuchsia, keep it shaded from hot sun and don't let it dry out. If you get more little gnats you'll find suggested remedies with the other info on line.

2 Jun, 2017


Hmm...88ยบ F, then, for my understanding. That's a bit warm for Sweet Peas, but not really obnoxious. Early blooming kinds might have trouble, but standard varieties shouldn't be suffering too much. I've got to admit that I am not much impressed with the appearance of the potting compost you are using, especially for starting seeds--too coarse, too lumpy, and too much raw wood in the mix. The presence of fungus gnats outdoors probably means that the mix or the pot has poor drainage, too.
Here are some basics on growing seeds in pots:
Alyssum and annual Lobelia can withstand shallow soil, but still need at least 15 cm depth for long-term performance. Fuchsias and Sweet Peas need more room for their roots: 25 cm minimum, and 45 would be ideal.
When planting small seeds, such as Alyssum or Lobelia, fill the container with compost, up to a couple of cm of the top. Water it well, to let everything settle, until water drains out the drainage holes, and add more compost, if needed. Smooth the top of the compost, and remove any big chunks or lumps. Sow the seeds thinly--mixing the seed with some dry sand makes that easier--and sift some finer compost on top of the seed, no more than 1/2 cm.
Water the soil surface with a fine mist, to avoid shifting the seeds, until it is shiny moist, but no puddles. Keep the soil surface moist until the seeds come up. Here in the desert, we need to mist the seed bed twice a day, but you probably won't have to do it that often. Once the seedlings are up, water a little less often, with a fine rose on the watering can to avoid washing the shallow roots out. Once the young plants are getting robust, you can let the compost surface dry out about a cm deep between good soakings.
Unless the compost includes a timed-release fertilizer, you will probably need to apply regular doses of plant food starting a week after the seeds sprout. I would follow the package directions for containers, except for the first dose, which should be half strength.

2 Jun, 2017

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