Summer glad­i­oli

Stag­ger your plant­ing from now un­til Novem­ber for a longer sea­son of blooms, writes Mary Lovell-smith.

The Press - Your Weekend (The Press) - - Gardening -

SEED SOW­ING

• Spring is time to sow seeds. • Sow­ing veg­etable and flower seeds in trays gives them a head­s­tart as the soil and air tem­per­a­tures will still be too cold for many va­ri­eties to ger­mi­nate suc­cess­fully out­doors. • How­ever, some species, such as car­rots and asters, do best planted where they are to grow. Usu­ally, seed pack­ets or cat­a­logues will say if this is the case. While com­mer­cial seed-rais­ing mix is ster­ile and pro­motes healthy seedlings, it can prove pricey. Make it go fur­ther by di­lut­ing it with or­di­nary gar­den soil, well-rot­ted com­post and/or hu­mus (that rich, dark, sweet-smelling soil full of or­ganic mat­ter found un­der trees or in parts of the gar­den left to their own de­vices). You could also use hu­mus straight as a seed-rais­ing mix, or mixed in a lit­tle gar­den soil. Siev­ing home­made seed-rais­ing mix en­sures no large pieces of dirt or or­ganic mat­ter will im­pede a tiny seedling’s growth.

AS­PARA­GUS

• As­para­gus crowns are avail­able in gar­den cen­tres. Be­fore plant­ing, choose a site for a bed, remembering that as­para­gus is a long-term crop and may in­habit the spot for up to 20 years. • A light and free-drain­ing soil is best. • Weed the bed thor­oughly – tak­ing par­tic­u­lar care to re­move peren­nial weeds, such as twitch grass, con­volvu­lus, dock and ox­alis. Then place a hefty layer of com­post all over. Plant crowns about 5cm be­low the soil sur­face and 40cm apart, with about 1 me­tre be­tween rows.

EDIBLES

• Sow broc­coli and brus­sels sprouts in trays

for trans­plant­ing later. • Coriander, leeks, let­tuce, pars­ley, peas, radishes and spinach may be sown di­rect into the gar­den – if the soil is dry and warm enough. The old gar­dener’s wis­dom is that if you rake the soil at 10am and it is dry and crumbly by 2pm, then all is well for seed ger­mi­na­tion. • Cut seed­heads off rhubarb and feed with a

sprin­kling of blood and bone.

ORNAMENTALS

• Sow sweet­peas in a sunny spot with rich, freedrain­ing soil and some­where to climb. • Plant glad­i­oli corms – stag­ger­ing plant­ing un­til early Novem­ber will mean a longer pe­riod of flow­er­ing. Snow drops may be di­vided now – while the leaf is still show­ing. Are your tulips look­ing a bit short on the stem this year? This is most of­ten caused by a lack of wa­ter about a month be­fore they flower (though that’s un­likely this sea­son!) or not get­ting enough chill over win­ter. Try bury­ing them deeper or shift­ing them some­where less shel­tered. Prune bush and climb­ing roses.

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