Sunday, 9 April 2017



Spring weather seemed to be running a bit late this year, but then a warm sunny spell towards the end of May warmed up the soil just enough to let us get on with the seed sowing.
Root crops such as carrots, turnips and leeks, and salads such as lettuce, rocket, beetroot and radish all need a firm level surface with a good tilth. So choose a dry day and get that rake moving.
Sowing peas
Once the outdoor seed bed is prepared give a light dressing of fertiliser high in phosphates (potato fertiliser) for root crops but a balanced one such as Growmore for salads, then rake in before taking out seed drills. Most crop rows are spaced a foot apart
Tulips and pansies in a tub
but give turnips and parsnips 18 inch spacings as they need more room. Scottish conditions may be a bit on the cool side for spring onions sown outdoors in spring so I sow mine in cellular trays indoors to get them started, then after a few weeks plant them out. These can go in rows spaced just six inches apart as they are quite narrow and upright. Carrots are another crop that can be sown closer at six inches between the rows with three rows together so you can straddle them for weeding. Carrot fly is a real nuisance so cover the carrot bed over with fleece held up over the foliage with hoops.
Sowing salads
Leeks are sown thinly in a seed row and left to grow to pencil thickness before lifting, topping and tailing and transplanting into permanent rows by dropping them into a deep dibble hole and watering them in.
Early peas such as Kelvedon Wonder are best sown in a six inch wide trench a couple of inches deep and space out the seeds along the bottom of the trench in three rows a few inches apart.
A hardy annual flower border can be sown any time from early April onwards. Again they germinate best if the ground is well prepared with a deep friable tilth, but not manured or composted and adding fertiliser will give them a boost but then excessive growth will result at the expense of flowers. Annuals flower best on well cultivated but poor soils.
Back in the greenhouse seed sowing continues in seed trays and cellular pots. Cabbage, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts are best sown thinly in shallow seed trays using a well drained seed compost. Once they have germinated they can be
Iceland poppies
pricked out into large cellular trays or pots to grow on for a few weeks before they are big enough to plant out.
Take care to protect young plants from slugs and snails and pigeons which like to feed on all brassicas as well as young pea foliage, and if your land is infected by clubroot grow some of the clubroot resistant varieties of cabbage (Kilaxy), cauliflower (Clapton), sprouts (Crispus) and Swedes (Invitation).
Sweet corn is best to go direct into smaller cellular trays for germination then a few weeks later they can get potted up into bigger pots so that you have a strong plant at least a foot tall for planting out.
Most summer bedding plants such as Impatiens, petunias, salvia, antirrhinum, French and African marigolds can all grow from seed, but in spring the garden centres are just bursting the these plants in cellular trays as plug plants just ready to take home and pot up. Grow them on for another three weeks or so and they will be ready for their summer quarters in tubs, beds and hanging baskets.

Wee jobs to do this week
Planting early potatoes

Recent sunny weather has warmed up the ground so we can now plant our potatoes. Start off with the first earlies such as Casablanca and Foremost, then second earlies such as Charlotte and International Kidney then go onto the maincrops where choice is wide so pick one to suit your own needs. For a good baked potato Amour is a winner, Lady Christl has taste and great flavour and Sarpo Mira has good blight resistance. I like to plant sprouted seed potatoes in a deep drill lined with compost to get them off to a flying start. Add some potato fertiliser to keep them well fed for a heavy crop. Space the sets about a foot apart in rows two feet apart for earlies, but give maincrops a bit wider spacing between the rows.


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