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Happy gardening!

Thursday 29 March 2007

Pick of the bunch…

Gladioli come in many varieties and are planted largely for their value as a cut flower. They are grown abundantly in France and can often be found in the vegetable garden grown in neat rows. Each stem lasts around 2 weeks, but if planted over a period of several months their colourful blooms can be enjoyed throughout the summer.

Prepare the planting area with compost or well-rotted manure. Where the soil is particularly heavy, add a few handfuls of grit to aid drainage. Then during March, plant the corms (the bulb-like underground stem) in rows if you require them just for cutting, at a depth of around 15cm. You can also create a more natural style of planting within your borders, by laying the corms out in loose swathes varying their planting depth from 10 – 20cm to help stagger flowering times.

Once they appear, don’t forget to support them – wire support rings are extremely good for this. These can even be put in place immediately after planting to remind you of where the corms are!

Hot Tips for March!

· Sow Sweet Peas early in March.
· Sow perennial flowers such as Hollyhocks, Verbena bonariensis and Lupins in a cold frame.
· Tie in tender new shoots of clematis that are starting to appear now to avoid them getting damaged.
· Remove dead Hydrangea heads left to protect this year’s flower buds.
· Plant Rhubarb crowns and Jerusalem Artichokes.
· Feed currant bushes with a fertilizer high in nitrogen.
· When conditions are suitable, sow crops such as parsnips, leeks, spring onions, peas, lettuces, broad beans and radishes.
· Sow tomato seeds in peat pots in the greenhouse. They will require about 20˚C to germinate. Allow 2 seeds per pot and pinch out the weaker of the two after germination. These will be ready to plant out in about 6 weeks.