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.

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - East Kent Property - - Gardening -

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

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