Gardening Q&As part 2
There are two things that leeks like. A well-manured soil and early planting. Many people plant their leeks in autumn, hoping they’ll fatten up in time for winter picking. But they need to be planted before that to ensure they put enough fat on their chops before the end of the season. Traditionally seedlings are planted out from December to February (seeds can be sown in early spring).
Prepare the bed before planting (best down in autumn). Dig the ground over then add a bucket of aged manure per square metre. Sow the seeds in spring in drills about 1cm deep and rows 15cm apart. Once they are growing well, thin the seedlings to 4cm apart. If you don’t wish to sow them directly in the ground, you can plant them in paper or peat pots and transplant the pot and all into the ground when the seedlings are big enough. Keep plants well watered in dry spells and liquid feed every two weeks.
Dig them up and divide them. Daffodils should really be divided every four years or so, otherwise they become overcrowded and flowering diminishes or stops altogether. Dig up your bulbs in December when dormant, set them aside to dry for a couple of weeks, then remove the offsets. Store in a cool, airy place before replanting early autumn. If the bulbs look diseased, though, throw them out. If you have grown your daffodils in the same spot for years, the soil may be impoverished. Before replanting, improve the soil by adding some compost or aged manure, as well as some blood and bone. Plant the bulbs three times their depth. That is, a bulb that is 5cm deep should be planted 15cm deep.
The key to strong, healthy celery is liberal amounts of water and fertiliser. Lack of both will have a marked effect on size and yield. Two or three weeks before planting, dig in plenty of compost or aged manure, then a week before setting them out, apply a general-purpose fertiliser. Plants must be kept well watered throughout the growing season, especially during dry spells. Any interruption in moisture levels will lead to all sorts of problems. Celery must also be encouraged to grow steadily and strongly. Feed once a fortnight with liquid fertiliser. If you have access to it, you can feed with poultry manure instead.
Celery: The key to strong, healthy celery is liberal amounts of water and fertiliser.
Big feeders: Leeks like a wellmanured soil and early planting.
Split ’em: Daffodils should really be divided every four years or so.