Sunday, 12 February 2017



Sowing tomato seed
The month of February has always been my starting point to begin some seed sowing. I grow vegetables for the kitchen and flowers to enjoy, but never got into exhibiting, otherwise my seed sowing schedule would have started in autumn. I begin in mid February with sweet peas and onions both of which like a long growing season, then at the end of the month the broad beans and tomatoes get sown. At this time of year they all need some warmth to germinate, so either use a heated greenhouse, or at least heat up a section to use and line the greenhouse with bubble polythene to
Pricking out tomato seedlings
retain heat. A small electric propagator is
a great help to get seed started and then once seedlings appear they can be transferred to a light warm windowsill or other area with heat and plenty of good light. Seedlings need to grow sturdy, and short jointed, so only give enough heat to keep them happy, but do not force growth as it is still early and if grown on a windowsill they can soon demand more space.
Sweet peas are usually soaked overnight and sown in cellular trays at two or three seeds per cell, or if the cells are small sow at one seed per cell. They are usually pretty fool proof so germination should be nearly 100% as there are very few pests or diseases around indoors at this time of year. Watch out for slugs and snails in the greenhouse as they have
Tomato Alicante
survived well in the mild winter.
Once the plants have a couple of leaves try and get them hardened off to go in a cold greenhouse or frame, then pinch out the growing point to encourage branching.
Onions can be sown thinly in a shallow seed tray then pricked out after germination or in a cellular tray of about 80 to 100 cells for one packet of seed. Seed quantity per packet depends on variety as
Onion Hytech ripening up
well as supplier. Treat onions the same as sweet peas for warmth and light. Once they have settled down and become established in cells keep them fairly cool, but frost free. They can be hardened off and ready to plant out in April. Onions can also be grown as sets without all this work, and now there are some really good varieties available as heat treated sets for planting on well prepared fertile soil on a good day in March. Hytech, Globo and Sturon are all good varieties.
Broad beans have large seeds so they are easily sown individually in cellular trays where they can
Broad Beans ready to plant
remain for a few weeks after germination. Frequently there are more seeds per packet than what you really need, so either make the packet last two years (a good Scottish trick) or keep a batch for a later sowing. These plants can go on land cleared from some overwintered Swedes, spring cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard or kale. A good variety of broad bean is Giant Exhibition Long Pod.
Tomato seeds germinate in warm conditions then need continual warmth and good light to grow on into strong sturdy plants. They are not difficult to grow so sow thinly in shallow trays then prick out into individual small pots to grow on. They are perfect on a sunny windowsill for a short spell, but soon outgrow the space so need transferring into the greenhouse. They will be fine in an unheated greenhouse lined with bubble polythene, but if cold weather threatens then bring in a heater to keep them warm over night. This year I will be growing Alicante as my main crop plus my two very sweet cherries, the yellow Sungold and the red Sweet Million.

Festive Poinsettias and orchids keep flowering
Wee jobs to do this week

Plants brought in to the house to brighten up the festive season often have a long flowering period so do not be too quick to discard them once all the decorations are packed away. Indoor azaleas can be kept to flower next year, but need cooler temperatures in an unheated greenhouse, but keep them moist. Poinsettias retain their red bracts for a good couple of months so keep them moist but not wet and warm and away from draughts. Phalaenopsis orchids are very popular and come in all sizes and colours. These will last for several months, but do not overwater them. They hate standing in water, and in Scotland are fine in a sunny windowsill. I water mine about once a week and feed once a month, then after flowering they get transferred to a bright shower room.


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