Weekend Work: Time to sow seeds in the vegetable garden
Saturday 09 May 2009
What to do
Conditions should be right now for sowing seed in the vegetable garden. Try more peas, lettuce, chervil, radish, and if you have not already done so, start celeriac off in a pot inside. When the seedlings have grown, prick them out in trays, as you would annual flowers, and grow them on until they are big enough to set in rows in their final positions.
Lettuce, peas and radish are all best eaten young and tender. Sow seed at three-weekly intervals through the summer.
Keep an eye on the way clematis are growing. Left to themselves they tangle in a clump. Tweak out the various shoots and set them off in different directions, so they cover the widest possible area. They are much happier growing through other shrubs than they are on their own. Try 'Lady Londesborough' (pale mauve-blue turning silver grey) through a silver-leaved pittosporum.
Raspberry suckers are coming through fast and, as always, there are plenty that have strayed far from their parent plants. Pull up or cut off any that are more than 15cm from the original rows.
There is still time to take cuttings of tender plants such as geranium, begonia, dahlia and fuchsia. If you have already rooted cuttings of geranium and fuchsia, pinch out the tops of the new plants to make bushy specimens.
Sweet-pea plants raised indoors should be planted out when they have been thoroughly hardened off. They will need something to scramble up, twiggy sticks, or netting, or bamboo canes.
Weeds have been growing at a hundred miles an hour since the sun started shining. Try at least to keep on top of the most free-seeding types such as groundsel, landcress and dandelion.
What to see
Cayeux, the French nursery that specialises in magnificent bearded iris, will be bringing nine new varieties to the Chelsea Flower Show this year. My favourite is 'Java Bleue', a rich, dark purplish-blue flower, son of Cayeux's excellent 'Mer du Sud'. Falls, standards, beards – all are of the same extraordinary intense colour. It is superb. Cayeux send out bare root rhizomes of their iris from late June until October. For an English version of their catalogue contact Viv Marsh Postal Plants, Hunkington Nurseries, Walford Heath, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY24 HT, 01939 291 475, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. To see the new Cayeux iris go to the website at iris-cayeux.com
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