BRIAN KIDD: The crafty gardener’s guide to saving cash this summer

Wonderfully perfumed  - petunia Blue Vein

Wonderfully perfumed - petunia Blue Vein

Polyanthus: dig them up when they finish blooming.

BRIAN KIDD: on how to save polyanthus and potted roses

SOUTHSEA GREEN: Make sure you plant pollen-rich flowers to save the bee

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Wow, aren’t we all busy in the garden!

Weeds are growing like mad, the grass needs cutting, garden centres are offering a wonderful choice of plants and we can’t wait for summer.

This is a good time to find seedlings ready for pricking out. Have a look at your garden centre and you should be able to find lots of them.

Years ago seedlings were pricked out in seed trays, normally 40 to a standard box. Things changed for the better when plastic cells were introduced.

These moulded cells fit neatly into seed trays. The plants are much better because each has an excellent root system and all plants are bushy and short because they’ve had the advantage of good all-round light while growing.

When planting them out in the garden you’ll find you’ll need fewer plants because every one is perfect.

I do apologise for recommending Begonia Non Stop a few weeks ago. I know when many of you went to get some they had gone. Well, they have more in at Keydell. Be quick because they sell like hot cakes.

A lot of plants for summer flowering appear expensive. For example, petunia Blue Vein which is wonderfully perfumed. They’re about £1.25 each. This seems a lot, but you only need three to fill a 16in hanging basket. They flower their socks off all summer and if the dead flowers and seed heads are removed regularly they will go on until November.

Cuttings may be taken off the original plant. What do you do?

Put the plant into a three-inch diameter pot in any potting compost. Water when the compost feels dry. Give it some Maxicrop Complete liquid plant food diluted in water and the plant will do well. In less than two weeks in the greenhouse the plant will grow and produce lots of side shoots which can be taken off as cuttings.

How do you do it?

Cut off shoots about three inches long, remove the lower leaves and cut the stem just below a leaf joint (node).

Insert the cuttings into any potting compost. When inserting them, scatter half-an-inch of potting sand over the surface of the tray in which the cuttings are to be inserted and water with a fine rose on the watering can.

Now put a piece of newspaper over the top of the cuttings. They will root in about two or three weeks.

Once rooted, pot each cutting into a three-inch pot and you should have five plants for the price of one.

This method can be used for lots of expensive plants such as scaevola, Japanese petunias, verbena Sissinghurst pink, bidens and all kinds of basket plants.

Now’s the time to do it. but keep them in the greenhouse. Jack Frost is still around.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Repair your lawn’s bald patches as soon as we have rain. Prick the surface so there are dozens of holes an inch apart and two inches deep ready for a top dressing of seed and compost.

Mix 1lb of top quality grass seed to 10lb of moistened seed compost. Leave this mixture in a black polythene bag for seven to 10 days. You will see the seed starting to produce tiny roots.

Scatter the mix over the patches and water it in. The new grass will form in about six weeks. Water if the weather is dry.

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