Here be dragons amid the carrots
When it comes to packeted seed there are some great things on the market. Jon Kemp, garden centre manager at Notcutts, Bearsted Road, Maidstone, thinks we should find the time to take a look.
There’s nothing a house mouse likes more than a midnight snack of garden seeds before you get around to planting them. Many Kent garden centres stock designer seed tins to keep rodents at bay. They make an attractive present when filled with seed packets for a keen gardener. This one, at £16.95, is from www.beth stevens.co.uk and comes complete with monthly dividers and five special seed envelopes. Additional envelopes are also available.
If you have ever fancied g rowing your own flowers, fruit or crop of veg now is the time to star t doing something about it. Not just because it’s currently trendy, even politically correct, but because it really is nature’s time to star t g rowing again. In your local garden centre there are rows and rows of seed packets – and most will need to be planted soon. There are also young, baby plants to be snapped up. These have a very short shelf life and need to be transplanted as soon as you get them home – but what fun and what a saving! Here’s some quirky ideas you will currently find on the seed shelves of your local garden centre. There is a carrot named Purple Dragon, with a bright orange flesh but purple skins, and the carrot Parmex, which is round and dinky. Or try the award-winning tomato Golden Sunrise, which is yellow. A fun one for the children, though it must be stressed that it’s not one for eating, is the ornamental cucumber Hedgehog. A half-hardy annual that climbs and will produce round, spiny fruits that can be picked to make hedgehog-like families. Great fun! So having chosen from a selection of baby bedding such as bacopa, arg yranthemum, lobelia, fuchsia and sweet pea, what do you do with your delicate friends? A Rootrainer is a propagating tray of cells, usually 32 in total and made from recycled plastic. These products are compact and therefore space saving, they are economical in initial outlay and in the amount of compost you will need. You can reuse them year after year. The quirky bit is the inter nal g rooves that direct the roots in a downwards direction with no curling or binding. They also open up like a book when it’s time to transplant, which avoids root disturbance. Healthy roots make for the healthiest plant. Rootrainers vary in depth. Short-rooted plants such as pansy and petunia will only require a depth of 8cm, but strawberries, sweetcorn and French beans require 12cm cells. Finding somewhere to put carefully tended young plants can be a tricky one if you are stuck for space. Pop up g reenhouses are popular as they are relatively cheap to buy, easy to put up and easy to put away when the time comes, after the frosts. If you are looking for an aesthetically pleasing, compact but permanent feature in your garden then an oak-framed, FSCendorsed Planthouse may be wor th the small investment. Don’t forget that if you are shor t of space, you may not have a place to store your garden produce when you pick it all, so you may have to give some of it away to your friends and family. To me, that is one of the best bits.
Purple Dragon carrots