Last week, I was driving home from work and saw a gentleman pruning a geranium with a giant sledgehammer! (This is a true story.)
I'm really not convinced that it was the right tool for the job. I'll be keeping an eye on that geranium through Spring and Summer and I'm pretty sure that it will keep growing beautifully.
Gardening goes so much better when you work with nature rather than against nature.
With that in mind, we thought that this week we might just have a chat about what you could be doing in and for your garden at this time of year. Now is absolutely the perfect time to get excited about planning your garden.
The weather is (finally) getting cold outside and it's the perfect time to curl up in a warm place with your gardening books and your seed catalogue and decide what you would like to grow this Spring (and where to fit it in!).
The best advice we could give you to make sure you get the best from your seeds is not to plant them too early. If we have customers contacting us with questions about non-germination of seeds, it is most often linked to sowing seed too early.
Now is the time to select your seeds, but don't sow them until next month so that your seedlings are ready to plant out when the soil and air temperatures are warm enough to help them along. Otherwise there is the risk of Nature using the equivalent of a sledgehammer on your seedlings in the form of a late Spring frost. Aim for planting out at Labour Weekend when the danger of frost is all but over, and protect your seedlings from the cold.
Sowing advice for Carrots:
If you are keen to grow carrots this year, we have another piece of advice for you.....make sure you are not sowing your carrots into soil to which you have recently added fresh manure. This is a commonly make mistake. Make sure you have added your compost well in advance to give the material time to break down before sowing your carrots - sowing into soil that is too rich will encourage sappy growth and forking of the roots. Soil temperature can also be critical for successful carrots - seed will struggle to germinate below 5 degrees and high temperatures can also mean slow germination. At about 10 degrees C, germination will occur within 10 days. Carrots love light, well drained fertile soils and root growth is fastest at temperatures between 15 and 18 degrees.
Sow your carrots where they are to grow - you can then thin them in stages so they they are the correct distance apart.
Carrots are cool-weather vegetables, so start sowing about two weeks before the last expected frost in your area.
Make successive plantings every three weeks but avoid the hottest part of the summer.
Sow in drills about 2cm deep and 15cm apart. With this spacing the foliage of adjacent plants will make a dense canopy when the plants are mature.
Sow the seeds sparingly on top, then cover with about 0.5cm of soil. Try to space them 1cm apart. Carrot seeds are tiny so you could try mixing them with sand to make sowing easier. Another suggestion is to sow a mixture of carrots seeds and radish seeds. The radishes will germinate quickly and will mark the rows until the carrots come up. And you can pick and eat the radishes before they get in the way of the carrots.
Seeds must be kept moist to germinate. Mulching will help hold the moisture, and will also make it easier to water without disturbing the seeds.
What about planning some hanging baskets to add some colour and beauty to your garden? This is the world's largest hanging basket (so far!). This massive basket measures 20ft by 10ft and took eight hours to winch into position. It contains over 100 different varieties of plants and flowers and weighs a quarter of a ton!
You will probably want hanging baskets that are more in the domestic scale. This season you could make the most beautiful displays with cascading flowers, like the lobelia pictured above. There are plenty of lovely flowers to choose from...
...or you could even have edible plants in your hanging baskets. You can make the most wonderful displays of salad plants, herbs and edible flowers, or have cherry tomatoes hanging ready for picking! The main thing is to remember to water them regularly! If you are using baskets lined with coir, you may find that they will be less prone to drying out if you line them with plastic - make some drainage holes in the plastic first.
Planning your garden can be nearly as much fun as sowing/growing/harvesting! The possibilities seem endless...we hope you enjoy having a look through our new catalogue and choosing which goodies to grow this year!
Finally here are some quotes we like - what are your favourite gardening quotes??
Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.
- Henry David Thoreau
Gardens are not made by singing
“Oh how beautiful”
and sitting in the shade.
- Rudyard Kipling