GARDENING: Now's the time to plant Busy Lizzie seeds, says Brian Kidd
If you love Busy Lizzies and would like to try to grow them from seed, then this is just about the right time to sow them. So why not devote part of your Easter weekend to this absorbing job? Why is this the right time? Because, as you might have noticed already,Â there is a lot more energy in the sun now and it may be easier to hitÂ the temperature required for their germination.
Take a good look at the seed packets and don't go for the cheapest '“ a common mistake.
Look at the illustrations and you will see some rather unusual ones. There are a lot of glorious types, so avoid the packets of ordinary mixed.
If you see they have F1 hybrid mentioned on the packet, think about quality and the fact that they will germinate really well . If they don't the seedsman will send your money back or offer you another packet of seeds.
We need to be able to gain a temperature of 18-20C (65-68F). This is easier on a window ledge than Â in a greenhouse.
If that isn't possible, then wait for another threeÂ weeks. Don't panic, there is plenty of time because Lizzies grow quickly.
Before sowing the seeds, make sureÂ the seed tray has been scalded withÂ boiling water toÂ kill anyÂ lurking bacteria.
Fill the seed tray with any seed compost right to the top of the tray andÂ shake itÂ to ensure the surface is even.
Then use something like a ruler to ensure theÂ surface is level. Don't firm the compost becauseÂ watering will do that perfectly well.
Now come the important bits.
Soak the seed tray and compost in a solution of copper mixture which will prevent damping off disease. Make sureÂ the compost is really saturated before sowing the seeds.
Busy Lizzie seeds are large enough to space about an inch apart.
As they germinate in the light, sprinkle about an eighth of an inch of vermiculite all over the surface and then leave them in the light and cover the seed tray with a single sheetÂ of newspaper.
The vermiculite absorbs water and keeps a fine film of water all over its particles.
TheÂ seeds are then surrounded byÂ moisture and they will all germinate. Promise!
Don't believe me? If you haven't tried this before, then why notÂ join the dozens of News readers who have been really successful.
If you like the idea of sowing directly into insert trays then choose the 40-cell size.
Instead of sowing them in a seed tray, make sure you sow one seed in each cell and cover them with vermiculite. Now let them germinate in full light, but not hot sunshine.
Whichever method you decide to try, remember it is important not to allow the seeds to dry out, so a daily check on moisture content of the compost is vital.
AndÂ to prevent damping off disease there is no reason why you should not water with a copper solution again.
This will not do any harmÂ but remember, it preventsÂ not cures thatÂ damping off problem.
THIS WEEK'S TOP TIP
What a difference the extra hour of light in the evenings makes. It's helping us catch up with all those jobs in the garden. Don't despair, in just a few weeks we will be enjoying seeing baby birds.