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  1. No garden Chillies

    Enjoy cheap and lovely rocket salad

    chillies-growing-310-x-240 Rocket-growing-in-container-310

     

    During the lockdown, there was a surge of interest in growing your own veg, and now we have a resurgence of interest driven in part by the rise in food prices. The price of basics is rising and one way to chip away at it is to grow your own. You do not need a big garden.  You can grow in containers on a patio, balcony even a window sill. 
    The cheapest way to grow vegetables is from seed. Seed is always cheaper than buying plants. 

    Early March is the time to germinate chillies,  and this is easy to do on a windowsill.
    Chillies need a long growing season and to be kept warm, which means chilles can be grown indoors all summer. They make colourful houseplants with brightly coloured chillies.
    At the end of the season, you can dry or freeze chillies and you will have chillies all year round for the price of a packet of seeds. How to grow Chillies

    I love rocket salad with its strong peppery taste. Supermarket bags of rocket are expensive, disappointingly unpeppery, with a short shelf life. They are also packed in single-use plastic. Rocket, as its name suggests grows like a rocket!  Easy to seed and germinate, pick and come again. Rocket will grow well in a container and keep you supplied with lovely fresh leaves. Definitely on the cheap and easy list- tips on growing rocket.

     
     
     
     
     
     

     

  2. At this time of year its all about looking forward and its a good time to check out the strawberry patch. If your plants have been yeilding less fruit it maybe time to think about replacing them.

    Strawberry plants don't last for ever, after 2/3/4/5 years, depending on the variety and growing conditions, yields diminish and it is time to think about replacement. This can be done by new plants or using runners which can be taken from healthy plants. For cultivation tips and information including how to use runners to get new plants for free check out growing strawberries. 

    The most common disease with strawberries is botrytis commonly called grey mould , shown in both the imates.  Strawberries are frost hardy, so if you are ordering new plants, do not be tempted, at this time of year, to put them in the greenhouse as that is exactly where Botrytis lurks in the winter months.

    Because strawberries are fully hardy they can be put outside, and overwintered outside. 

    Top tips on planting and growing strawberries, including how to aboid Botrytis, and ideas about the best varieties to grow and a YouTube video on growing strawberries in hanging baskets.

     

    Botrytis

     

    Strawberry and-Botrytis 310

     

  3. Bamboo is a popular, but you need to be sure what you buy and plant is not invasive.

    Some varieties of bamboo, called runners, are highly invasive, difficult to contain and almost impossible to kill. The other type of bamboo, called clumpers, are not invasive and much more compact.

    You cannot tell by looking at them, and not all retailers make the position clear. Check out non invasive bamboos for growing tips, ideas about which bamboos to plant  and which to avoid, and a complete list of invasive bamboos. 

    non invasive bamboo making a shady seat

     

     

  4. It may be early in the year, but already gardening thoughts are turning to seed sowing. Some seeds, noteably Chillies, need a long growing season and are often start early in the year. The problem is leggy seedlings a common problem when germinating from seed, especially early on in the year.

    Leggy seedlings are caused by uneven light. Perfect plants purchased from garden centres are germinated and grown in ideal conditions, just the right amount of heat and humidity, and critically, all round light, that is 360°. As the plant grows it gets all round light and develops a straight study stem.

    Most gardeners have less than perfect conditions and germinate seeds on window sills and warm spots in the house where the light is predominately from one side which causes the seedling to pull to the light. Combined with low light levels, as is often the case early in the year, and the seedling stretches to the light and looks "leggy", or weedy. The image below left are my tomato seedlings with just that problem.

    You can reduce the chances of the seedling becoming leggy by germinating in the bes light conditions. Also, turn the pot every couple of days so the light is not constantly  on one side of the seedling.

    But what if you have done this and still got a weedy seedling?

    The solution lies in how you pot on the seedling.  To pot on, ease the plug out of the pot from the base, and pull the seedlings apart gently (as in image two.) Avoid touching the stems which are very delicate and if damaged the plant may not recover; handle carefully and hold by the leaves.

    Select a suitable pot but not to large. It's tempting to put the seedling into a larger pot to save time. When potting on it is important to pot up only a slightly larger container. If  you put a small seedling (or any small plant ) into a large pot it will not thrive.

    When you put the seedling into the pot sink it well below soil level, you are in effect burying part of the leggy stem under the soil. Instead of potting on at soil level, reduce the amount of leggy seedling above soil, and you will find it grows on as a much better seedling it's leggy past forgotten. Images  centre and right show the same tomato seedling  after it  has been potted on with several cms of (leggy) stem below soil level. As you can see from the image the seedling looks good and this  tip works well to compensate for the problem with all types of leggy seedlings.

    More about leggy seedlings 

    The sunday gardener has over 200 pages of gardening information which you can search.

    leggy tomato seedlings leggy seedling potted up by the sunday gardener side view of leggy seedling potted up by the sunday gardener