Bumper Blog Update

 In George Irvine

Lilies Are Ideal for Growing in Containers.

Lilies grow well in containers where they can be positioned for maximum effect in the garden. It’s a great way to grow these stunning plants, especially if you do not have a lot of space in your garden or maybe you do not have a garden.

Indeed, Lilies are quite easy to grow. They are grown from a corm or bulb and they can be planted in the early spring for flowering late spring or summer. However, some of the tall growing varieties will require some support, but the short growing Asiatic hybrids which grow to two foot tall are ideal for growing in containers.

Begin by making sure that the pot in which you intend to grow the lilies has adequate drainage holes in the base of the and then place a two inch layer of drainage material such as crocks or small stones in the base of the container. After this step, begin to fill the container with good quality potting compost such as John Innes No.3. If you wish you can add about twenty percent each of horticultural grit and ericaceous soil-less compost.

There are some lilies which are lime haters and these should be planted into ericaceous compost.

Remember, Lilies are heavy feeders, and therefore it is best to add controlled-release fertiliser granules when planting.

When planting the bulbs it is important to bear in mind that some lilies such as the Asiatic types root from the base of the bulbs only. Other types produce roots not just from the base of the bulb but also from the stem just above the bulb. Indeed, these types of bulb may need a deeper pot.

Read the labels carefully to find out whether your bulbs are basal or stem rooting.

Basal rooting bulbs should be planted with their basal plate – which has fine hair-likr roots hanging down from it- facing downward and the pointed tip of the bulb scales pointing upwards..

Once planted, ensure that the compost is kept moist at all times but not soaking wet.

New Lily bulbs are now in stock at Cardwell garden centre.

A Shortcut To Germinating Parsley.

Last week I made mention of the long time it takes Parsley to germinate – around some fifty days or more- and I did mention that there was shortcut that I would tell you about this week.

While it certainly reduces the germination time it can be a trifle fiddly but it works.

Begin by taking a few sheets of kitchen roll which you need to soak well with tap water. Then lightly squeeze out the excess water. Lay the moist kitchen roll in a suitable plastic tray and then scatter the parsley seeds very thinly over the kitchen roll. Cover the tray with cling film and place the tray on a warm window sill.

Check the tray after a few days and you will probably see little green shoots appearing from each seed. Using a small pair of tweezers, carefully lift each seed and place them in a small cell tray filled with seeding compost and grow the seedlings on in good light until they need to be pricked out into larger pots.

Buying Tubers of Beautiful Begonias.

Tuberous rooted begonias are one of the most stunning and showy summer flowers and they do very well as patio plants grown in large pots or tubs

Grown from corms – which are just another name for tubers- begonias are available of colours and can also be found in differing forms too.

Begonia corms are now available in your local garden centre and you will find some of the tubers are really large. Do go along and browse over the large selection of colours and sizes which are in stock.

One great advantage about Begonia tubers is that you can keep them for y ears and years and with just a little care and attention they will flower year after year.

If you have tubers that you have over-wintered now is the time to take them out and have a good look at them. Discard any that appear to be diseased. Both stored tubers and newly purchased tubers can be started off into growth during this month.

Start by laying the tubers out in a tray filled with moist multi-purpose compost placing the tubers on top of the moist compost with the concave side or dimpled side facing upward. Keep the tubers in a warm but light location for a few weeks until you see the little shoots appearing from the eyes of the tubers. When these are well established the tubers can be potted singularly into larger pots and grown on.

Planning Flowers Not Just for Colour.

At this time of year as you get down to the business of browsing through the seeds at the garden centre, don’t be tempted just to opt for flowers that sport colourful blooms. While colourful flowers certainly make your garden look really attractive think about how your garden will look an dull days and in the late evening. No doubt many of you will recall being in the garden on summer evenings when it is not just the colour that makes the situation more enjoyable but the fragrance too.

Indeed, it is not just flowers that can impart lots of heady scents to your garden but many shrubs can have a really pleasing contribution to a sensory garden. Even many herbs can be used to impart some pleasant scents and you can still use them to flavour some of you culinary creations too.

For example, a large pot of mint can emit a nice fresh odour as you brush past it near to the edge of your path. Similarly, Lavender gives off a pleasant scent as does a pot of Rosemary. There are many other flowers, shrubs and herbs which can add lots of pleasure to a garden.

Useful Hints About Potatoes.

Over the past weeks I have written some information about seed potatoes which are now on the shelves at Cardwell garden centre. Today, I want to provide some more useful tips about some of the common cultivars available and which I hope will help you get the best crops whether you are growing them in containers or in the vegetable plot.

Firstly, I must emphasise that you should always buy virus free seed potatoes and for this reason you should not use home grown potatoes as seed stock, because they may contain viruses and other diseases.

Common varieties of first earlies are Arran Pilot and Epicure and these are both resistant to slugs. Among the second earlies, Charlotte, Kestrel and Wilja are slug resistant too while later crops such as Estima, Pentland Ivory and Pentland Squire are reputed to be resistant to slugs also.

Scab can also be a problem with some potatoes but among the first earlies Arran Pilot and Red Duke of York are scab resistant while in the second early category Nadine and Wilja should be free from scab. Late cropping potatoes such as Golden Wonder, King Edward and Pentland Crown are generally scab resistant.

For salad varieties such as Charlotte and Maris Peer are two of the most common cultivars.

You should begin ‘chitting’ your seed potatoes make sure that you keep the tubers in a cool but frost free but light location. When ‘chitting’ it should be noted that high temperatures will encourage weak growth. In this part of the country, seed potatoes can be planted out during April and May depending on the variety and weather conditions.

Did You Get an Amaryllis for Christmas?

No doubt some readers may have received an Amaryllis as a Christmas gift and as these magnificent bulbs only take between six and eight weeks to flower from planting you should be enjoying beautiful blooms by now. Some bulbs will have more than one stem and each stem will sport several flower heads giving a really exotic display.

Once the flowers have faded, just nip them off and then allow the leaves and stems to die off naturally. It used to be said that you should cut the stems back, but this is not a good idea. The stems will be full of sap and nutrients and you are better letting this sap drain back into the bulb to feed the bulb for next year.

Be Brutal as You Prune Your Roses.

Rose Bushes should be pruned back hard over the coming weeks. If you have a number of bush-type roses in your garden they really be pruned back quite hard during the next few weeks.

Roses are relatively hardy and they are also greedy feeders and they will benefit greatly from attention at this time of the year.

Begin by looking out your secateurs and do make sure they are really sharp .If you think they are a bit blunt it is best to ditch them and buy a new pair.

Begin by removing any broken branches or any that look like they are diseased. Next ,look for any branches that are crossing over the bush and remove them , as you want plenty of air circulating through the centre of the bush. Cut each stem to just above an outward facing bud but do not be worried about cutting the bush down to near soil level. It was once said – in old gardening folklore -that it was best to get your worst enemy to prune your roses.

Cut to just about six or eight inches above the soil. Once you have done this, make sure that you gather up all the cuttings and any fallen leaves which may be lying on the soil. This will prevent diseases such as Black Spot and Rust forming spores on the soil and then being splashed up back onto the bush by heavy rains.

After you have done this, rake in some rose fertiliser around each bush and then spray each bush with ‘Rose Clear’ to combat black spot and other rose diseases.

Blackcurrants are Worth Growing in Your Garden.

Blackcurrants are often described as a very healthy super-fruit and you do not need a massive amount of space to grow them. Furthermore, they are easy to grow and do not need a lot of attention from the gardener.

Just a few bushes will not take up a lot of space but they will reward you with lots of nutritious fruit which you can use for making smoothies, or for making jam or jelly.  However, even if you do not have a lot of space in the garden, blackcurrants are also ideal for growing in containers where they will perform well.

Blackcurrants are shallow-rooted so you should not plant them too deeply. Good drainage is advisable, plenty of fertiliser and regular watering. Indeed, other than that, they only need to be pruned once a year. Blackcurrant bushes are available as pot grown plants at Cardwell Garden Centre.

Give the Garden a Spring Spruce Up.

As the days slowly lengthen and the first of the spring bulbs begin to grace the borders adding a bit of welcome colour why not spend a little time outdoors getting the garden spruced up for spring and early summer.

Take a bit of time to go round and inspect such things as stakes supporting tall growing shrubs and make sure they are quite secure. Also take a look at fencing and renew or repair any parts that are showing signs of wear and tear. If the weather is dry you can even have a go at giving fences and garden furniture a coat of preservative or paint. Garden furniture should be washed down to remove grime and algae before painting.

This is also the ideal time to think about moving or sub-dividing large shrubs which are beginning to take over the garden. These can be dug out from their current locations and the root-ball can then be sub-divided using a sharp spade to give you a number of smaller plants. You can then prune the roots of these smaller plants and replant them elsewhere in the garden.


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