Bray People - - NEWS - WITH ANDREW COL­LYER Andrew Col­lyer pro­vides a gar­den de­sign, con­sul­tancy and plant­ing ser­vice. He can be con­tacted by email­ing an­drew­col­lyer@eir­

I AM very fickle when it comes to the months of April, May and June. As April be­gins I swear she is my favourite month, fresh and full of prom­ise, alive.

But then I soon fall for the charms of May , lush and fer­tile with her forty shades of green. Again as the sul­try and so­phis­ti­cated June comes around I'm ashamed to say my head is turned once more with thoughts of the vi­brant lazier days ahead.

These three months re­ally are the pin­na­cle of the gar­den­ing year in my opin­ion and it's im­pos­si­ble to favour one over the other they all have so much go­ing for them.

April is all about be­gin­ings, and there is noth­ing that epitomises this more than the sow­ing of seeds, from tiny acorns mighty oak trees grow. There is some­thing very pri­mal about it. There is a great leap of faith when that tiny grain is sown and we leave na­ture to take its course. It's quite the most sat­is­fy­ing way to grow and gives a won­der­ful sense of achieve­ment.

There is a great ad­vert on the tele­vi­sion at the mo­ment where a small boy sows some car­rot seeds with his fa­ther. Out he goes ev­ery day check­ing on the progress, which is dis­ap­point­ingly slow for a young boy. Then up pops one seedling, the only one. He nur­tures and cares for the seedling un­til a ma­ture car­rot is formed, a mis­er­able one at that. It is har­vested, cooked then carved like the finest sir­loin roast and shared amongst the fam­ily who all ap­pear to agree it's the finest car­rot they have ever tasted.

Light hearted this may be, but the sense of achieve­ment is there for all to see. Most of what we grow from seeds will ei­ther be veg­eta­bles or bed­ding plants. These are avail­able in gar­den cen­tres these days as small plants in plug trays in a selec- tion of va­ri­eties, but still limited. By grow­ing from seed you can se­lect colour, va­ri­eties and species un­avail­able other­wise, plus save money.

Plants such as the old fash­ioned Mignonette and Night scented stock, both sweetly scented an­nu­als that are great grown near a sunny door­way, are dif­fi­cult to find as small plants. A par­tic­u­lar favourite of mine is the sweet pea. They seem to have fallen out of favour in re­cent years. This is pos­si­bly be­cause they re­quire sup­port­ing, which per­versely is one of the rea­sons I en­joy­ing grow­ing them.

The con­struc­tion of a bam­boo frame work to sup­port them I find hugely sat­is­fiy­ing and if done care­fully is a thing of beauty even be­fore it is hid­den by plants later. This form of sup­port can also be used for run­ner beans which give great re­turn as they crop so heav­ily.

There are va­ri­eties of sweet pea now that are trail­ing bushes. I haven't grown these but my tra­di­tional val­ues make me slightly ad­verse to the idea of them. Sweet peas are well worth the ef­fort though, their beau­ti­ful vari­a­tions in shade of colour not to men­tion scent will mean you'll not be dis­ap­pointed. Cut and bring in­doors to re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the fresh sum­mer fra­grances.

Dead head for con­tin­u­ous flow­er­ing. I tend to sow di­rectly into trays or plug plant trays in seed and pot­ting com­post for mostly ev­ery­thing apart from root veg­eta­bles. This en­ables bet­ter con­trol over the early ger­mi­na­tion stage and cre­ates less thin­ning out than is re­quired when sow­ing di­rectly into the soil. Cre­at­ing these small in­de­pen­dently rooted plants makes grow­ing on far eas­ier and the is­sue of weed­ing far less haz­ardous.

Most seeds for flow­ers and veg­eta­bles grow fairly

“There is some­thing very pri­mal about it, that great leap of faith when that tiny grain is sown and we leave na­ture to take its course”

eas­ily, but some hard seeds like sweet peas can ben­e­fit from an over-night soak­ing in wa­ter to soften the outer cas­ing. If grow­ing in a green­house too hot a tem­per­a­ture can also stop ger­mi­na­tion al­though this is only likely to be an is­sue at the height of sum­mer.

Buy­ing seeds can still work out quite ex­pen­sive if you are get­ting a num­ber of pack­ets. Some seeds like be­go­nia which is dust-like are more valu­able pound for pound than gold. So con­sider a seed swap or seedling swap with friends and neigh­bours.

In­evitably there will be more seeds than you re­quire and hang­ing on to them for next year may re­duce your ger­mi­na­tion rate.

Mak­ing sweet pea sup­ports

Plant of the week: Aca­cia pravis­sima

A seed tray and plug plant tray

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