Monday, 3 April 2017

A BUSY TIME IN THE GARDEN



A BUSY TIME IN THE GARDEN

The spring rush is just round the corner. Last year it was in full flow at this time, but spring 2017 has been quite cool, so there has been no rush to start outdoor seed sowing and planting.
Anna transplanting tomato seedlings
Last year I planted my first early Casablanca potatoes on the 20th March, but this year the soil has not yet warmed up so they will have to wait a bit longer. The potatoes are all sprouting in their chitting trays but not putting on any growth to worry about.
Sweet peas are very disappointing this year. I bought three varieties to try but there was only ten seeds in each packet and I only got one of my favourite Air warden to germinate. The seed company from Newmarket will not be getting another order from me next year. Other seed packets were all very sparse. Gone are the days when you sowed half the packet one year and kept the rest for the next year. The sweet peas are very slow to grow so not yet big enough to go outside on a warm day.
Trying out some new chrysanthemums this year, so my delivery of plants from Harold Walker arrived on time with excellent strong well rooted cuttings, which are now potted up. Existing spray type chrysanthemum stools in the greenhouse are all growing well so a batch of cuttings was taken and will root in a small heated propagator.
Dahlias showing new growth
Dahlias boxed up a few weeks ago and kept in a warm place are now beginning to grow so soon another batch of cuttings will follow for the propagator.
Begonia tubers were beginning to sprout so they have
now all been boxed up and put into my cold greenhouse which I give some supplementary heating to on cold days and nights.
Broad beans and established geraniums are all growing well, but with continual gales and cool weather they will need to wait a bit before going outside to harden off.
Sowing continues with cabbage Kilaxy, cauliflower Clapton and Brussels sprouts Crispus (all my clubroot resistant varieties) as well as lettuce All Year Round, spring onions and beetroot Boltardy. These
Young seedlings
will be planted outdoors direct from their cellular trays into a bed warmed up with a low polythene tunnel at the end of April.
Last year’s leek crop of Musselburgh was very disappointing so this year I will try a different variety, Autumn Mammoth and sowing them earlier, but because of the cold weather they have gone into trays and will soon be needing pricked off.
Onions sown earlier are now all growing well and they are now ready for pricking off as soon as we get some warmer days. If you are using sets they can be planted at the first decent dry day onto well prepared and enriched soil.
Rhubarb ready to pick
As cooler weather limits what I can put outdoors for hardening off the greenhouse is getting very cramped, but I am lucky with having a lot of good windowsill space so my tomatoes are still indoors but needing pricked out into cellular trays. Later they will go into pots and get transferred to the greenhouse as the cooler atmosphere and better light will keep them sturdy.
The cool moist weather is just perfect for lifting and transplanting snowdrops and aconites in the green as they will get less disturbance, and continue to grow for a few more weeks, before dormancy begins and they die down for the summer.
Transplanting aconites in the green
Rhubarb crowns have had an early start so pull a few fresh shoots as soon as they are a decent size, and at this time of year they will try and run to seed so remove these as soon as possible. Rhubarb is a thirsty plant with its huge leaves and a gross feeder so give a fertiliser dressing then a mulch of well rotted compost to retain moisture throughout the growing season.

Wee jobs to do this week

Keep checking for slugs and snails and put down some pellets where ever you are planting young vulnerable plants such as salads, beans, sweet peas, as the mild winter has not helped to reduce the numbers overwintering, and they will be feeling hungry. Greenhouses with young seedlings and soft cuttings are a magnet as there are so many places to hide underneath pots and boxes.

END

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