Seeds of success
Whatever you want to do in your garden, I have found that the more research and planning you do, the easier it is. Your priority has to be the
sorting out the main structure. This depends on the size of the space you are planting, and most importantly your budget, writes Iris Jardine.
You also need to decide whether you want a super display for one season or flowers that will come up year after year. Shrubs are always a good idea as a base, before moving on to herbaceous perennials. These need to be planted by height with the taller ones, such
as delphiniums and hollyhocks, which are
tall and give colour, at the back. Work your
way to the front of the borders finishing with ground-hugging plants.
For perennials you have the option as to whether you buy plants or seeds. Sow your seeds according to the instructions on the packet. When the seeds get to about 20cm high, transplant them in their final positions.
If you are thinking of a vegetable
patch, Suttons have developed seed
tapes, which are basically 5m of paper
tape impregnated with seed. All you
need to do is roll out the tape and
cover it with soil.
Do tread warily if using packets
from the previous year. If they have
been kept in dry, cool conditions, the chances are they may still be all right, although the likelihood is that germination will have dropped. If the packet has been opened, however, you might just as well throw it away.
Sutton Seeds has been going since the early 1800s, when it was founded by John Sutton, a corn merchant in King Street, Reading. John started off supplying agricultural seeds, corn and grasses for pastures. With the introduction of
the Penny Post and the new railway network, the company became a pioneer of the mail-order business. In the 1850s, Suttons developed the testing of seeds, and was one of the first to have its own seed-testing laboratory. Their Harvest Fresh foil seed packet system was developed over many years and, in 1965, they were the first company in the UK to offer foil packets to the amateur gardener. In 1858, the company received royal patronage from Queen Victoria when it was asked to supply seeds to the royal household. The Royal Warrant has been with them ever since. Flower and vegetable seeds are now produced for Suttons in many parts of the world. This is because of the need for long summers and guaranteed dry harvesting conditions, thus ensuring that the seeds are of the highest quality. At their trial grounds in Devon, the majority of their work is in quality control as well as testing new varieties.
Using seeds seems to me to be rather a hit and miss affair, but apparently Suttons have developed products which even the most inexperienced gardener can use, called Soweasy 'Throw and Grow' seed.
No chemicals are involved, except for a seaweed extract and a vegetable dye, which is used as a coating. The benefit is that seaweed is a plant stimulant, and their research showed
that the plant germinates and establishes itself much quicker.
All that is required
is to rake over the
soil, throw the seed out and rake over again.
Sutton Seeds are offering readers of MQ a selection of Soweasy seeds at £5.75 including p&p, a saving of £2.00. Seeds are Alyssum Snow Carpet, and mixed Antirrhinum, Dahlias, Nigella and Phlox Beauty. Ring +44 (0) 1803 696 363 quoting RFV. Offer closes May 31, 2003 and is subject to availability.
TREES AND SHRUBS Remove any dead or diseased twigs and branches. Finn or stake any shrubs that may have been loosened by the wind.
HEDGES Privet and hawthorn can be cut back. Continue winter pruning of fruit trees. Apply a dressing of sulphate of potash.
HOUSE PLANTS Avoid over-watering, as plants are semi-dormant. Remove any faded flowers
and diseased leaves. Place on a windowsill. Beware of cold nights with plants behind curtains against a cold window.
SOWING UNDER GLASS Plant seeds that need a long growing season, such as begonias, geraniums and greenhouse tomatoes.
SEEDS If you grow your own plants from seed in a greenhouse, use seed for early sowings. Use ordering 'plug plants' to follow on when plants from early sowings are hardening off in cold frames.
ROSES Pruning can now take place in mild areas.
ROCK PLANTS Watch out for slug damage in mild weather.
PERENNIALS Remove dead shoots to allow for re-growth in spring. Plant out new plants in mild weather.
LAWNS Mow lightly if grass is growing in mild weather, but
not too low or subsequent frost damage may result.
FRUIT Prune back raspberry autumn fruiting types. Cut canes down almost to ground level.
SOWINGS As for January, but also antirrhinum, dahlias, lobelia and salvia under glass.
HOUSEPLANTS Give the first liquid feed late in the month.
SOWING UNDER GLASS Many other flowers can now be sown, such ageratum, dahlia, busy lizzies, lobelia, etc.
SOWING OUTDOORS If the weather is mild, and the soil not too wet, you can make the first outdoor sowings of flowers such as clarkia and godetia and vegetables like broad beans and parsnips.
ROSES Main pruning begins.
LAWNS Do not mow too low.
Web site created by Mark Griffin