This year I am determined to become a `proper’ gardener and plantswoman. I want to grow my own plants from the seed I have collected last year and learn about cuttings and propagation. I bought Carol Klein’s book entitled `Grow your own Garden:How to propogate all your own Plants’ recently and it looks invaluable so I look forward to sharing my successes (and failures!)
March has been a a particularly cold month this year and I haven’t been able to get out in the garden as much as I would like. On a trip to the garden centre I did invest in a lovely new watering can which I shall enjoy using later in the year.
The garden is slowly coming to life with the primroses, violets and hellebores still in full bloom. This months highlight has been the crocus blooms. Why is it that the crocus only looks good when you are at work? I booked an extra days holiday this month and there they were in all their glory catching the sun’s rays and looking magnificent. When the sun goes down after work they fade into insignificance. I was fortunate to see them on what seemed like the only warm sunny day this month.
The daffodils are delayed this year. However a few tete a tete mini narcissi are doing well and adding a cheerful yellow glow to the garden. I am looking forward to seeing the daffodils and tulips come to life.
The rhubarb is doing well. I don’t have a posh decorative rhubarb forcer, however a big bucket over the top does just as well. Forcing rhubarb by covering the crowns encourages the plants to make early growth which is really tender and delicious. I make a fabulous rhubarb and vanilla jam with our rhubarb!
I’m an avid viewer of Gardeners’ World and followed Monty Don’s advice to lift and store my dahlia tubers last Autumn. This month I got ready to plant them up and found that most of the tubers have been eaten by mice. I potted up the two that may be salvageable and I’ll be off to the Garden Centre to get some more. Very disappointed as I wanted to learn to take cuttings from my own dahlias!
I have been champing at the bit to start sowing my seeds. In the Autumn I collected a large number of seeds from my garden. I am particularly excited about trying to grow agapanthus blooms from my collected seed after reading up about it in Carol’s book. Carol recommends sowing seed in seed compost and covering with a sprinkling of dry grit. `This replicates the conditions the seed would experience naturally, allowing light and warmth to get to work on it, and provides emerging seedlings with drainage, while maintaining moisture under the surface where it is most needed for developing roots.’ So off to the garden centre I went to buy grit. I must say the man at the garden centre tried to put me off saying he didn’t advise the use of grit and I’d never get a good true plant with my own seeds so should buy theirs! Not to be deterred I bought my grit and prefer to go with Carol’s optimism. My enthusiasm will not be dampened! What have I to loose – just a bag of grit. The plants may not be true to the parent but I will still be very excited if I have some success. Apart from my home-gathered seeds I have started to plants the seeds in Sarah Raven’s Collection of Really good cut flowers. I also have some very healthy looking sweet pea plants which were sown last year.
The other thing I have been doing is `chitting’ potaotes. Potatoes are grown from tubers known as `seed potatoes’. These need to be sprouted or `chitted’ before planting. Chitting lengthens the growing period and leads to early tuber formation and therefore higher yields of potatoes. The seed potatoes need to be placed on a tray in a single layer in a cool frost free place with moderate light. You need to avoid direct sunlight. I once put them in a warm greenhouse and ended up with baked potatoes which were useless for growing on! Neither should the chitting potatoes be put in the dark. I did this last year as I mistakenly thought they should be in the dark. This produces pale leggy shoots, not the shorter darker stubby shoots you want. I am planning to grow four different varieties – Annabelle (1st Earlies), Maris Peer ( 2nd Earlies), International Kidney (Salad), and King Edward (Maincrop). Not sure we have enough space, but I want to try growing different varieties. Traditionally potatoes are planted at Easter. However it has been so cold lately that I’ve decided to wait a bit longer as the soil temperature is too cold. I’m looking forward to a nice salad with freshly dug new potatoes! Meanwhile Happy Easter!