Now is the time to sow seeds for spring and early summer biennials.
These include forget-me-nots, wallflowers (pictured), Sweet Williams, foxgloves, pansies and more. They’re all easy to grow from seed.
So if you’ve bought them as plants in the past, try some from seed instead this year. All you need is an outdoor area of soil which is usable as a seed-bed. Work the soil down to crumbly, friable consistency. Mark out the area and then sow your seeds in rows, thinly and not too deeply. If the weather turns dry, irrigate the soil to keep it moist.
When the seedlings come up, it may be necessary to thin them out.
Nigel Colborn says it’s time to sow seeds for spring and early summer biennials These include forget-me-nots, wallflowers (pictured), Sweet Williams, foxgloves, pansies
If there’s enough space, you can transplant your ‘thinnings’ to provide more young plants. Allow the plants to develop during the rest of summer.
At any time between early September and late October, dig up your young plants, and move them to their final homes. They can be potted up in containers or bedded out — perhaps with tulips or other bulbs — for a spring display. Or plant them in a border.
If you sow Sweet Williams, those will flower next summer, rather than spring.
ENJOY A BERRY GOOD SHOW
After such a stop-start year, dessert gooseberry varieties are ripening later than usual. If you want large, extra-sweet fruits for eating raw, they could still benefit from thinning.
Dessert gooseberry varieties (pictured) are ripening later than usual. If you want large, extra-sweet fruits for eating raw, they could still benefit from thinning
Remove alternate fruits alongt he branches. Those will cook beautifully or may even be ripe enough to eat raw. But if you leave a gap between each fruit, they will grow larger, sweeter and more luscious. Gather those when soft to the touch and in full colour
We have a grape vine outside; the variety unknown but bearing tasty black fruits. This year, healthy seedlings have appeared, growing near the parent plant. Are these worth saving?
Mr F. Simpson, address supplied.
No harm in growing your baby vines on, but they’re probably of minimal value. They’ll flower when mature and could bear edible grapes. But those have little chance of being plump and delicious.
Named grape varieties result from years of breeding. To come true, they must be propagated by grafting or from cuttings.
PLANT OF THE WEEK: Giant Vipers Bugloss
In any sunny garden you may notice plants with huge, three-metre flower spikes. These are crowded all summer with pretty blue flowers and are irresistible to bees. Each biennial plant flowers copiously for a long summer period. Self-sown seedlings usually follow and are easy to transplant. They may take two years to flower.
Giant Vipers Bugloss is related to our common wildflower, Viper’s Bugloss,
Echium vulgare. Native to the Canary Isles, its bizarre size results from an evolutionary quirk known as Ocean Island Gigantism. Island creatures can evolve to become larger than their continental relatives. Giant Galapagos tortoises and Komodo Dragons are examples. Among plants, the Canary Islands also have Sonchus, giant sow thistles, growing 8ft tall.