GARDENING: Children will love watching these bright and beautiful flowers grow
A beautiful flower border can be created by growing flower seeds from seeds sown directly into the soil and this is a particularly good idea if money is tight.But it is a wonderful experience if children are involved because they like to see things happen quickly.
The area needs to be dug over carefully, removing any weeds and in particular any couch grass, bindweed or ground elder.
If the area is infested with any of these weeds, spray all over the foliage with a new product called Resolva. This will kill off all weeds permanently, just follow the instructions.
Once the weeds are dead, they can be dug into the soil, cut off any seed heads as the seeds will produce more weeds.
When the area has been dug, the surface needs to be raked to attain a good tilth to a depth of about 4 inches. This needs time and patience but it will pay off in that the seed sowing will be a lot easier to do and the germination will be much better.
A scattering of fish, blood and bonemeal is applied at a rate of 2 to 3 ounces per square yard, this is raked in again and we are ready to sow the seeds.
We need to choose hardy annuals such as larkspur, love in a mist and cornflowers. There are lots more but those are the best known.
The finest one of all, however, is cosmea. These are usually mixed colours and, do you know, you can have a border full of just cosmea and the effect is just amazing. They start to come into flower 10 weeks after sowing the seeds.
All hardy annuals are sown in little pinches using two or three seeds inserted into the soil using fingers and thumbs. If the border is marked out into a patchwork by using a cane or a draw hoe seeds of one type can be sown and a contrasting colour can be used in the next patch. Children love doing that!
After sowing, give the border a good watering and in about three weeks the seeds will germinate. Misses can be filled by transplanting seedlings.
Another thing to be getting on with now is planting leeks.
These popular winter gems are very prone to attacks of leek moth which devastate the foliage and destroys the heart of the crop. Lots of gardeners ask me what has gone wrong with the crop, as they have never had this problem before.
The leek moth flies around and lays eggs alongside the seedlings which have just been planted and in the late summer the leaves are chewed badly. The chewing then devastates the long white heart of the crop and the crop is sadly ruined.
Beat this pest by covering the seed sowing with insect barrier netting and, as soon as the young plants are set out in rows, cover the plants with insect barrier netting suspended on plastic water piping.
Put wooden dowels in the ends of the piping to make it easier to be pushed into the soil. The crop must be covered to prevent the flying moth from laying eggs which hatch out as caterpillars which are very difficult to see as they are exactly the same colour as the veins of the leek leaf.