This weekend in the garden

Top tips for March seedsowing

This weekend is blocked out in my diary, - it says seed sowing.

In preparation this week, i've been clearing all the overwintered plants out of the greenhouse. - I've planted out lots of last summer seed sown perennials - Echinops Ritro, Stachys Lanata, Rudbeckia maxima, Delphiniums and Verbenas.

The overwintered sweet peas are planted out in the polytunnel, - so now i've got free space, and free seed trays to sow this years seeds into.

So I thought i'd give you an idea of what I sow into what.

Propagator and seed trays (1 of 1)

At the beginning of the growing season, I use heated propagators to start off seeds. - This is great for those Half hardy annuals that need a long season to get into flower, - like Cleome, Molucella, Anthirrinums and Scabious. Before now, - i've not had electricity in the greenhouse, so these propagators have been balanced on tables in front of the windows in the house with the most light. - This year for the first time, they've been in full use in the greenhouse for the last 3 weeks.

When it gets to March, and I can start the hardy annuals that don't need bottom heat to get them going - Cornflowers, Ammi, Larkspur and Gypsophila are good examples, - then I start to use seed trays, - The ones with 5 strips in them are great if you want a decent number of anything, - you can sow 20-30 seeds in each strip.

If you're wanting smaller numbers, then a window sill propagator with modules is ideal.


I use lots of these green windowsill propagators, and the inserts last at least 3 seasons (i'm on the 4th season with a few of them) I sow 4/5 seeds into each module. - If you are useing them for saladings (Rocket, mizunas, lettuces etc) then you can just pop each module out into the ground. - if you're using them for flowers, then you can prick out from them into cell trays.

This is my favourite size of tray, - it has 84 modules, and i've got some with 66 modules. They are deep enough that you can get a big enough root system on each seedling that they can be planted out into the soil as soon as the weather is appropriate.

Cell trays (1 of 1)

 The list of plants that i'm going to be sowing this week includes

Chrysanthemums, Asters, Amaranthus, Stocks, Verbena bonariensis, Calendula, Cerinthe, Euphorbia Oblongataand more Sweet peas.

I sow into my own mixture of seed compost - This post I wrote gives a lot more information about composts, but I've now moved on to a peat free rather than reduced peat mix, using a sieved mixture of organic municipal waste and a peat free compost.

However there are lots of plants that I won't be sowing for at least another month. - Some don't like root disturbance, some have their growth "checked" if they stay in pots for too long. Either way you want them to be at exactly the right growth rate to put them out as soon as the last frosts have disappeared, Some, i'll wait to sow direct into the soil instead of starting them inside - These include

For direct sowing - Dill, Nigella, Bulplurum and Zinnias

For quick germination and planting out before they get too root bound - Cosmos, Tithonia, Zinnias, and Sunflowers

Hold off sowing them until late April. (or mid May if frosts still look likely)- Which is great, because all the hardy annuals you sow this weekend will be ready to go out by then.

Enjoy the sunshine, and get sowing


The new greenhouse

Well it's here, fully erected (by us) and almost stuffed with plants and seedlings already.

My new greenhouse, - probably my last ever greenhouse, (this one should last a lifetime) is in place.


it's got a few things that I need to sort. There were a few bits left over. The erection over the weekend could have been smoother if the packaging and the instructions had been better, - but to their due Hartley Botanic were on the phone at 10am on Monday, after a couple of frustrated Twitter exchanges to find out what they could do, and there will be detailed feedback given.

I would like to show you more pictures of the features I love, - the guttering, staging, lovely finishing. - but I havn't got time - I've got seedling to pot up, and seeds to sow.

If you want to find me, - i'll be in the greenhouse

A Birthday at Grace and Flavour

Just under a year ago, I wrote about my first day of planting at Grace and Flavour.

This afternoon, We went and joined over 80 others to celebrate the 1st Birthday


This fantastic community garden has joined young and old together, has provided fresh vegetables to members, local residents through 2 shops, and by a tythe to local community groups.

For our family it provides somewhere to go and join in, -without obligation and when we can, with a healthy outdoor activity. (Although you often eat more cake than you've burned calories digging). As a gardener there is always more to learn, and I love hearing from other gardeners how they do things.


As well as celebrating the first year of community gardening today, - We helped celebrate as the first plants went in the allotment area.


This is William, trying to look like he actually helped to plant David and Dana Leigh's gooseberry bush (he didn't!)

So congratulations to all the Grace and Flavour members, and to the team who helped to make this possible, (you know who you are) Here's to many more years of Cake and Cropping at Grace and Flavour

February Seed Sowing

It may be freezing, and still dark in the mornings, but i've aready started  my propagating season.

I love growing new plants. I always grow too many, so some always end up in friends and clients gardens, and there is the Horticultural Society Show's plant sale in May, but this year I can grow even more, as the School is doing a plant sale at the end of May as well.

January/early Feb is way too early for most seeds to be sown outdoors, although Broad Bean Aquadulce is meant to be hardy enough to be sown now (i've never remembered in time and always had to buy plants)

This year, I had a lovely Christmas present in the shape of this great seed tin.

it has different sections for each month, so i've gone thorugh my huge pile of seeds and sorted them into months that they can be sown in. - There are actually quite a few for January, - The Tomato Red Cherry that I sowed on 18th Jan has already germinated on the windowsill in the study, - i'll keep turning the seed tray around every couple of days to stop them going leggy, - that way they don't stretch towards the light.

The other seeds i've already sowed, - Aubergine, Tomato ildi, Parsley, Mizuna and Rocket have all been sown in recycled plastic containers, - those that are for fruit like Blueberries are the best as they already have drainage holes in them, and are mini greenhouses themselves


if you've got a pile of seeds packets, that could be from some years back and you're not sure whether it's worth sowing them, - check out this handy seed viability guide on the fennel and fern blog

i've been saving my containers, so i'll be out there this weekend, sowing a whole lot more.

Can I still plant spring flowering bulbs now?

Bulbs being planted I was asked this question this week, and the person who asked me, had been a bit over enthusiastic at the end of season bulbs sell offs.  I had to admit that I had too, and still had bulbs to plant, - so will they still flower now this season?

Well this isn't the first year that I've gone overboard with buying bulbs, and run out of time and energy to plant them before the Christmas onslaught.  I've normally planted them in pots in the greenhouse at the beginning of January (it's usually my post New Year overindulgence head clearer!) but last year, January was a nightmare in this household with tradesman everywhere, and I didn't get round to planting out the last of my tulips and narcissus until the last weekend in February. March last year was warm, and a lot of tulips came up early, but my pot planted ones came up later than most, and were flowering at just the right time for a client that needed them in Mid May. The Tete a Tete daffodils gave me a show of yellow by the front door after i'd finally got rid of the workman, and the remainder of the tulips were planted in a container on the patio, - these are now poking up again for this year, - i've just spent a while planting up some of this years extras, so i'm hoping for a continueing show of tulips, muscari, crocus and tete a tete, from my pots, when those in the ground have gone over.

So if you've still got bags of bulbs lurking, - as long as they are still firm, and havn't dried out or gone mouldy, plant them in pots and enjoy the display this year, - and let me know how you get on.