Seed Sowing and Dahlia Preparation
It doesn’t take much to get me gardening again – the sun on my back, a large bag of compost for sowing, some wooden stick labels ( 50) from the Pound shop, a Sharpie Fine Point marker pen, some clean pots and I’m off. Oh and seeds of course…
Sown today were Ammi majus, Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’, Linaria ‘Canon Went’, Rainbow chard, Butternut squash, Beetroot ‘Red Ace’ and a salad leaf mix. These are now in the heated propagator and will then transfer to the pop up greenhouse as soon as there are signs of germination.
I am really delighted and have potted them up into 2 litre pots with fresh potting compost and they’ll stay in the dry and warmth indoors in a light-filled space. I’ll keep the soil moist and they should steadily put out green shoots and be ready to plant out when all danger of frost has passed. Here are the tubers looking as Sarah says, like bunches of salami, but I’ll photograph them again when they are in flower.
Sarah Raven’s growing instructions are clear and I’ll be sure to pinch out the tip of the main shoot as they grow and to remove all but five shoots sprouting from the tuber to encourage bushy plants. These can be used as cuttings to make more plants which I will most certainly attempt. Last year I was inspired to grow flowers by Louise Curley’s book The Cut Flower Patch and it was fun and successful and this year I want more space for more flowers.
With this in mind I’ve planted up the new bed with 18 perennials. They were only just through the soil in their 9 cm pots so not much to show in the bed as yet but as soon as it’s looking good I’ll take a picture and give the planting plan. To save money I moved and divided up Phlomis fruticosa from the allotment and Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ from elsewhere in the garden. Whilst planting the bed I spotted the emerging shoots of Geranium psilostemon and remembered Beth Chatto describing them ‘like waxy lipsticks’ pushing through the soil.
The Sarcococca is no longer scenting the air but Skimmia fragrans is although you have to get up close for the full benefit. It’s an evergreen shrub that prefers shade and the leaves have a scent close to the scent of kaffir lime leaves. The flower has a spicy, sweet perfume and is most noticeable when the sun has warmed up the air. It’s in a pot in the garden but would do well in a crowded conservatory where other plants could provide shade.
On the allotment the first two rows of potato ‘Winston’ went in possibly a bit early since the soil is only just warming up. I covered the rows with a fleece to give some protection from ground frost. It’s an early cropper that grows big for baking and has a great flavour. In a week or two ‘Charlotte’ and ‘Maris Piper’ can be planted. Two more rows of broad bean seedlings were planted too and the red-flowered broad bean Crimson Flowers has been sown in a pot outside the kitchen door.
I picked some hellebore flowers to float in a shallow bowl on the kitchen table…