Sunday, 13 March 2011

Second Week of March - Sowings and Cuttings

I was hoping to get the pototoes in this weekend, but the soil is still too cold and wet so they'll have to wait a bit longer. But my first daffodils are out, which is always nice to see.
Earlier this week I sowed my first lettuce - Salad Bowl, a loose leaf lettuce. They're at the back of this picture, very fast to germinate. Half of the tray is red, half green but at this stage they look the same, though you will notice a slight difference in germination rate - strangely the red doesn't germinate quite as well as the green. On the left are some spring onions which I sowed at the same time and are just putting up their heads, on the right the basil which I bought from the garden centre and which should be ready for transplanting later this week.
So then my thoughts turned to cuttings. I bought some sand and rooting powder with a view to taking cuttings from my white geraniums which have been in the house over winter. I prefer rooting powder to gel, find it easier to use and this pot comes with a handy dibber top which you can use to make a hole in the compost.
Geraniums tend to root well, though it's some years since I did this and last time I had a conservatory in which to keep them, instead of a windowsill. I mixed the compost with a little sand to improve drainage, then cut off some promising shoots from the plants. On the left is a shoot before preparation, on the right one after. You need to remove all the leaves except one at the top, then cut just under a leaf node. Put the shoots in water, then dip each one in the rooting powder and pop in the prepared compost. Cover with a polythene bag to keep them warm and moist until they root, it takes a few weeks.
And here they are; four healthy shoots which should provide new plants for later this year. The old plants will be used in in my planting outside the house, while these will be kept in individual pots this year so I can bring them inside for the winter and start the cycle all over again.

Anyone in the UK see Gardener's World on Friday? It's nice to have a proper gardening programme back again after it's meanderings over the last few years. One talking point on a blog I saw was how many secateurs Monty Don had hanging on his "shed" wall. I say "shed" but really his outbuildings look like the outskirts of Hampton Court Palace, what a place! Anyway, it was nice to see that I'm not the only one who sows beetroot in pots rather than direct in the soil, it seems I'm in good company!
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