I noticed quite a few soil-warming cables have disappeared from the shelves at our garden centre and several plant propagating cases needn’t be dusted off anymore because they have been sold. Obviously, a lot of regular readers have been busy shopping!
Great, we can get on with some seed sowing. Bedding begonias called begonia semperflorens are one of the first seeds to be sown and they need to have a temperature of 65F, which sounds a lot warmer than 21C.
The soil-warming cable or plant propagator needs to be switched on 24 hours before sowing the seeds to ensure the temperature is correct and it’s important to keep the sand in the bottom of the soil-warming box moist, ensuring the heat is evenly distributed. All germinating seedlings benefit from evenly distributed bottom heat.
The seeds are tiny and there aren’t many in the packet. Fill the tray to the top with a seed compost, level off the surface with a ruler, make up a solution of Cheshunt Compound, and place this into a container. Put the tray into the container so the mixture is half way up the tray and allow this to remain until the surface of the compost glistens. After 10 minutes, remove the tray and sow the seeds thinly and evenly and lightly cover with vermiculite.
Cheshunt compound is used to prevent damping off, a fungus which attacks the lower part of the stems causing the plants to collapse and die.
Vermiculite absorbs moisture, gathers rays of light and projects this on to the seeds making the environment suitable for successful germination.
Most gardeners choose ‘mixed’ colours but there are some wonderful separate colours available.
This is a matter of choice but by choosing particular colours it is possible to use them to either blend or contrast with other plants in the garden. Many gardeners go for a colour theme these days, while visually impaired gardeners go for brilliance.
If you are not confident in sowing seeds, it won’t be long before seedlings are available to buy.
People often ask me what the lovely double-flowered begonias are when they see them in Portsmouth parks.
Regular readers will already know these are called Begonia Non-Stop because they start to flower in late June and continue to bloom all summer right up until the frosts arrive, after which they die offand there is a baby tuber at the base of the stem which can be dug out, cut off and kept in peat all winter to grow the following year.
I will let you know when I see them in the garden centres.
I thought you might like to share my enjoyment in receiving a photograph of daffodils in full bloom in the garden of Mr F Bartlett who lives at Hayling Island. Yes, daffs in bloom on January 12.
Jobs to do
● Brush the lawn.
● Sow single seeds of early cauliflower in insert cells in a cold greenhouse. You won’t need more than 12. Sow another batch in the same way in a month’s time.
● If you had mistletoe at Christmas, squash the berries on to the undersides of apple tree, lime or even a malus branches. Germination may take months, but worth a try.
● Autumn-fruiting raspberries can be pruned now. Cut off every shoot down to soil level. Once this is completed, a four-inch layer of well-rotted manure is spread over the border where they’re growing.
● Green-seeded broad beans can be sown now in a cold greenhouse or cold frame. Plant one seed in each insert cell and they will germinate in about three weeks. Don’t over water. Don’t sow outdoors until the first week in April.