I’VE started my gardening courses and the first two have been on my favourite topic – horticulture propagation – growing plants from seed and cuttings.
It’s such a good, enjoyable way to grow plants and there are so many different techniques and ways of propagation.
My students are so enthusiastic and I love seeing people’s faces, especially when I do the division technique – which is the easiest and also the most successful propagation technique because you have a root already.
For a plants man it’s wonderful – from one parent plant you can get sometimes 30 or more plants.
Achillea, asters, heucharas, grasses, geraniums and many more divide really easily. Potted, given some protection until they establish a little more, and you will have plenty to sell, give away and keep for yourself for your own garden.
Light levels are slowly increasing so you can start easing houseplants, including cacti, back into active growth.
Do this by slowly upping the amount of water you give them. In case of cacti this will be the first water they have had since you watered them in autumn.
A good way to water them is to stand the pots in a shallow tray of water and letting the compost soak it up. Don’t water again until the compost is completely dry, feel the compost regularly to check. The best water to use is clean rainwater collected in a water butt.
We have started our tuberous begonias into growth and started potting them on.
The good news is we have not lost many to the cold like last year. I have put them in our first greenhouse, which is partly heated and will give them the warmth to grow better. Remember, when you plant the tuber, make sure they are the right way up. The top side is the concave one and on top of the tuber you might even have some new shoots.
Begonia tubers do need warmth this time of year to get them going.
I was involved in a gardening debate the other day. A man from Manchester visiting Sewerby Hall was bemoaning that he didn’t like the weather and there would be nothing to look at in the garden until April. So I had to defend the beauty of March.
I listed daffodils, anemone blanda, helleborus, primula vulgaris, chaenomeles japonica, ribes, forsythia. He stopped me in full flow and said they get alot of rain in Manchester, so plants don’t grow as well in March.
Now I am not a weather expert and I admit I hear stories of heavy rain frequently in Manchester – usually United have to returf their football pitch twice a season – and weather can play a part in a plant flowering later, but certainly not a whole month.
On the positive side, Glen from York – who was quite an expert himself on herbs – came to chat and he was telling me all about his different herbs.
He bought some of our thyme. He said he was going to use the leaves in stews and grilled dishes. I love fennel the aniseed flavour leaves in salads and sauces – they are gorgeous. Glen uses the seeds which he said had a much stronger flavour in soups and pastry.
Gardening Tip – Get growing seeds and cuttings. You’ll need a heated propagator or warm greenhouse to get good germination, but there is plenty of cutting material available.