Get to work on everything from garden vegetables to gorgeous Gloxinia.


SOUTHSEA GREEN: With Irene Strange

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At last the first early carrot seeds have been sown. The variety Amsterdam Forcing is a good choice because it will be ready to pull at the end of June – and there is nothing like the taste of home-grown carrots.

The ground was dug during the autumn in a raised bed, which was a good idea because while part of my allotment was flooded, the raised beds were above the water level.

Plastic water piping was inserted in the shapes of hoops and micromesh was used over the top and the edges fixed with push pins into the wooden edges of the raised bed.

The micromesh netting stops carrot fly laying eggs alongside the baby carrots. Carrot fly larvae are tiny worms which cause black lines in the carrot roots.

I don’t know about you, but I do love to eat home-grown lettuce and beetroots. The ground has been far too wet to sow the seeds outdoors, but in all the recent gloom and doom weather the seeds were sown in insert cells in the greenhouse at the allotment.

They will be perfectly okay in the cells for weeks and can be planted at any time.

Let’s go indoors now and plant some Gloxinia seeds. The seeds are very tiny and you would never believe they will produce a beautiful flowering plant in full flower next August and the flowers will last right up until November indoors in a nice window or greenhouse.

If you can’t be bothered with seed-sowing, you will be able to find Gloxinia 
tubers at your garden centre. They are in cellophane packets and there is a picture on the front of the pack.

Reds are fabulous, spotted ones are intriguing and the blues are cool!

A four-and-a-half inch diameter clay pot is ideal. Use a couple of pieces of broken flower pot in the base for good drainage. This is called crocking and use a good quality loamless compost to fill the pot right up to the top.

Press the tuber rounded part down, hollow part up and allow the compost to be watered by placing the pot into a bowl of water.

Leave for 15 minutes. The top of the compost will glisten and the surface of the compost will sink to the correct level. Remember, never ever compress loamless composts.

Leave the pot in a light place in the greenhouse or on the windowsill .

During July, fat rounded flower buds will form followed by the most romantic large flowers which will delight you and everyone will ask you what they are.