Greenfingers - February 2021

Greenfingers0321I mentioned growing flowers for cutting last month, and sweet peas are a favourite, providing a lovely scent from their delicate flowers. They grow readily from seed, and soaking the seeds overnight may improve the germination rate. As sweet peas have a deep root run, and to minimise root disturbance when planting out, it’s a good idea to plant the seed into a root trainer or a deep paper pot where the whole thing can be planted out in a sunny position. The bed should have some compost or manure dug in several weeks beforehand, and the plants will need some sort of support; canes, trellis or netting. I usually grow a row alongside the greenhouse up a net to provide some shade for the tomatoes in the summer. It’s important to remove flowers before they set seed, to feed with a high potassium liquid fertiliser such as a tomato feed to prolong the flowering season, and to water during dry spells. So refresh your vase every day, replacing older flowers with newly cut ones.

I was pleased to see several types of peat-free compost for sale at the garden centre last week. The use of peat in garden compost should be discouraged as it is possible to produce a very satisfactory mixture of compost from peat-free, sieved garden compost and a little sand or grit to ensure good drainage.

There are plenty of tasks to be on with in the garden this month: planting shallots, onion sets and early potatoes; prune bush and climbing roses; lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials; plant summer flowering bulbs; prepare seed beds and hoe to keep weeds under control; and try a garlic spray on tender new growth to deter slugs. Some seed may be planted outside, such as broad beans, and beds protected by a cloche can be sown for early salad crops.

The superior solar conjunction on March 26th marks the end of Venus's apparition in the morning sky and its transition to become an evening object over the next few weeks and months. It will pass very close to the Sun in the sky as its orbit carries it around the far side of the solar system from the Earth and will be too close to the Sun to be observable.

Pete Smith