Monday, 27 January 2014

TIME TO ORDER SEEDS AND PLANTS



TIME TO ORDER SEEDS AND PLANTS

Although the winter has been very mild and allowed us to continue with a few outdoor gardening tasks, the days are short so there is plenty of time to sit down in the evening and browse through this year’s new seed and plant catalogues as we decide what new plants to grow in 2014.
There are always plenty of new plants to try if you can find room. New vegetables can replace any unsuccessful ones tried in previous years, but new shrubs, roses, fruit bushes and grape vines are a bit harder to find room for.

Vegetables

Last year’s success with clubroot resistant cabbage, cauliflower and swedes will be repeated this year, but the range of varieties will be extended. Cabbage Kilaton was brilliant, but this year I will also try Kilaxy, another late summer and autumn cabbage. Cauliflower Clapton gave an excellent crop but they all came at once and two people can only eat so much cauliflower in a cheese sauce. This year I will try different sowing dates to extend my season. Last year I sowed cauliflower Aalsmeer in summer so the plants can overwinter to produce heads in spring. Growth has been terrific and I have two rows of strong plants showing great potential. If they keep their promise I will be growing them again this year for cropping in spring 2015.
I have always grown Brussels sprouts Wellington as it may be an old variety, but it is very reliable. Last year some plants were weakened with clubroot and the buttons were quite small, so this year I will try the clubroot variety Crispus.
I have only recently started to use my winter hardy swede Gowrie which is also clubroot resistant. One row of large roots will keep my supplied for another couple of months. It is well worth growing again, but I would also like to try Marion, another clubroot resistant variety, and see how they compare.
As my gale damaged greenhouse is in a serious state and may not be replaced till spring, plans will have to be modified. Thus this year I will buy in sets of onion Hytech rather than seed which I normally sow in late February, but they need protection when very young.
Both beetroot Boltardy and Detroit were great last year, but new varieties Bettolo and Rhonda are worthy of a trial as they are said to be sweeter than normal.

Fruit

I have heard that the new autumn fruiting raspberry Joan J is superior to Autumn Bliss. It has spine free canes and much larger fruit producing a heavier crop, so I will order in some plants.
Polka and Autumn Treasure are also said to be better than Autumn Bliss, but I only have room for one new raspberry.
The new blackberry Reuben is a primocane type, i.e. it fruits on new canes produced in the same year. It is thorn free and very popular, but however, I will wait a year or so to see how others find it. It was bred in USA, and our climate is a wee bit damper and cooler so I want to be sure botrytis is not going to be a problem.
Grape Regent was excellent outdoors last year, but I would also like to try Muscat Bleu and Polo Muscat to see how they like our Scottish conditions.
More information on these and other fruits can be seen at www.PomonaFruits.co.uk

Ornamentals

Most of the flowering plants grown in previous years will be grown again this year, but a few years ago I lost my Angels Trumpet, Datura which is a half hardy exotic used to give height in flowering tubs full of bedding plants. The rich scent in the evenings is heavenly, so it will be a must for 2014.

Greenhouse plants

Last year I tried Cape gooseberries and pepper Habanero, but this year, assuming I get the glasshouse back into production, I will try the new yellow cherry tomato Lldi, as well as my favourites Alicante and Gardeners Delight or Sweet Million. Sweet Million appeared less hardy when we got a poor spring and suffered root rots.

Plant of the week

Eucalyptus gunnii is the best Eucalyptus variety to grow up north as it is quite hardy once established, but in the early years can suffer frost damage in a bad winter. My eucalyptus is now about fifteen years old and very tough. It has lived through hard winters and severe gales but suffered no damage. They are evergreen so quite attractive all year round, and the canopy is not dense so winds can blow through it. The stems are quite flexible so they can bend over in a gale then return to normal. In Australia the hot dry climate can dry out the branches which can then crack and fall off without warning, but in UK this hardly ever happens. They are fast growers, so plant them as young one or two year old plants, but keep them away from walls and buildings.

END

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