Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




Busy time outdoors and inside

IT'S time to get some more glasshouse seeds sown.

Most - including tomatoes, coleus, petunias and geraniums - will benefit from bottom heat, note.

Sow them in pots and trays filled with special seed-sowing compost which has been firmed, levelled and watered liberally and then allowed to drain for a while before sowing. The compost should be moist, not saturated. Once sown, allow a fine layer of sand or compost to fall over the surface. Ideally, apply this using a sieve. Label your sowings with each plant's name and variety. Note the date on which they were sown, too. Having done that, pop them into a propagator and watch for them germinating.

To avoid damping off, make sure the young seedlings have plenty of ventilation. Do not, however, subject them to cold draughts.

When the seedlings are big enough, prick them out into large trays or small individual pots. An alternative is to sow into plug trays, removing all but one seedling in each plug when young. Potting up can then be deferred until such times as the roots have filled the plugs. Outdoors, this is a good time to take root cuttings from certain alpines and perenniels.

Lift a parent plant and look for thick, fleshy roots - the are the ones which store plant food. Remove a few lengths or sections. Half fill seed trays with free-draining, sandy - but moist - compost and lay the roots in rows on their sides. Then cover them with more compost.

Extra thick roots, like those of papaver orientate, can be cut into shorter sections and set vertically, their upper ends just below the surface of the compost.

Place the trays in a cool place - under glasshouse staging is good, as is a cold frame. Other plants which grow well from root cuttings include crambe, phlox and pasque flowers.Young plants should begin to emerge later in the spring, at which stage they can be potted up and grown for planting out in the autumn. Seedling weeds which may have begun to appear in the borders around your garden should be sprayed with a weedkiller. Act now in order to nip a potential problem in the bud.

But, where possible, avoid walking on wet areas in the garden at this time of year. Walking on wet ground compacts it, damaging its structure.