This week we will be doing a lot of plant propagation, involving seed sowing, dividing up plants, taking root cuttings and much more!

We will be taking root cuttings of garden mint and potting these up. This is a technique where the root of a plant is dug up and then carefully divided into sections, each with a growing point from which a new plant will develop. 

We will be dividing Canna rhizomes. At the end of last year we over wintered a number of Cannas by keeping them on the dry side and putting them in compost under the greenhouse staging. Last Sunday we started to divide these up and re-pot them. We will finish dividing and potting up all these plants. 

We will also start to grow some new cannas from seed. The Canna Patens seeds need to be scarified, which is the horticultural term used to describe a range of methods of breaking the seeds’ extremely hard seed coat. The seed coat needs to break down to allow water in to initiate the germination process. Cannas are among a wide range of plants that have ingeniously developed a hard seed coat as a way to ensure that not all the seeds germinate at the same time. This has the effect of increasing a plant’s survival chances. The hard seed coats acts as a germination time delay and depending on the conditions the seed encounters in its natural environment, some seed coats will break down faster than others allowing for a scattered germination period. This in turn means that if some unusual environmental conditions like a late frost wipe out one lot of seedlings, other seeds that have not yet germinated will not be affected. 

After scarifying the Canna Patens seeds, we will sow them in vermiculite in modules and put them in a heated propagator which will be set to give then a constant heat of 21-24 C.

Incase you are wondering what vermiculite is, it’s the name of a group of hydrated laminar minerals (aluminium-iron magnesium silicates) which look like mica. Horticultural vermiculite is processed with massive heat that expands it into accordion shaped pellets composed of multiple layers of thin plates. It will not rot, deteriorate, or mould and is enduring, odourless, non-toxic and sterile. Vermiculite is a good medium for germinating the Canna seeds in because it is a medium that is good at water retention and aeration, both essential for good germination. 

Other seeds we will sow this week:-

Two varieties of  Nasturtium, ‘Empress of India’ (with red flowers) and  Nasturtium (orange) Tip Top Alaska Deep Orange

Leek Zermatt (to be sown in deep pots) for planting out later

Ornamental plants: Two varieties of Abutilon, Abutilon x hybridum ‘Bella’ Series Mixed and Abutilon  x hybrid, ‘Bella’ Series, Deep Coral

Herbs: Parsley, both the curly and flat leaved varieties; Fennel, both the bronze and green leafed varieties

Other things we will be doing in the garden this week are:  installing the new nozzles on our automated irrigation system in the upper greenhouse to ensure that all our seedlings and larger plants receive sufficient water to grow well!

The fern bank and the rest of the woodland area needs a quick weed to remove any invasive weeds from places we do not want them to grow.

We will be pruning the Brown Turkey Fig in the herb garden. Last year we tried to layer some of the low grown stems by securing the stems under the soil, and some of these stems may have rooted / layered. Those stems that have produced roots will be detached from the parent plant and potted up for sale.  

This Sunday March 8th, 10am – 1pm there will be the next of the Kitchen Garden workshops. There is no need to book for this workshop but please do arrive at 10am. More details here 

The minutes of our volunteer meeting from February 27th are here

In other news

Andy Petch’s Tai Chi Class will be on as always this Saturday 2pm to 3pm. For more info, go here

Recycling opportunity!  If you have spare glass jars with lids, especially those over 330ml in capacity, please bring them along and put them in the last open shed next to the kitchen on the empty black shelves on the left. We will use them in our fermentation worshops.

The Border Workshop Group who meet on the first Sunday of every month (10am to 1pm) have come up with a lovely design for the Sensory Garden in our walled garden.  You can see it here 

Local singer songwriter Emma Tubmen is starting a Greenhouse Singing Group starting on Wednesday 25th March 4pm to 5pm. All ages are welcome! Emma will teach simple songs with harmonies for everyone to learn by ear.  The music will be a mix of traditional folk and pop songs depending on everyone’s preferences. Tickets are £6 full price or £3 low income adult / child. To book, go here

A little bird has told us that Chartwell Cancer Trust, 43 Acre Ln, Brixton SW2 5TN have loads of cheap packets of flower seeds so if you are passing do pop in and support Chartwell.