Gardening Tip – For the week, 27th Mar. – 2nd April.
It is always good to pass on our love for gardening to our children, but if we want their gardening enthusiasm to stay with them for life we need to give them the extra carrot!
Sowing parsnip seeds which will take 3 weeks to germinate and another 7 months to grow will not encourage their love for gardening. The kids want to see a quick turnover!
Besides the obvious radish and pea seeds which are quick growing, I would suggest ‘summer bulb’ planting, the shoot will emerge very soon after the bulb is planted, and on each subsequent visit to the garden or allotment they will see it growing higher and higher until the final satisfaction of seeing the flowers emerge.
There are many bulbs that can be found in the shops including some exotic ones but I would pick the following 3 as they are easy and quick to grow.
Lily bulbs should definitely be planted as soon as possible. Lily bulbs in the shops have often been lifted at the end of last summer and if left too long outside the soil they can totally dry out.
I was happy to see that the ‘tree lilies’ (that I wrote about during the summer ) the ones that can grow to 2m high, are now not just available by mail order but also in high street shops, I noticed them for sale in Wilkinsons under the name of ‘Tower Lilies’ @ £3.00 for 2 .
Gladioli will flower a few months after being planted. If you stagger the planting times then you can have flowering gladioli flowers the whole of summer. A few weeks after they finish flowering the bulb can be lifted and a new bulb will be found on top to be planted the following year. If left in the ground especially during a wet and cold winter the bulbs will not survive and therefore they need lifting – this can be a difficult task.
Why not try the idea pictured above? Before planting put a strong netting in a shallow trench just sticking out at the edges, then plant the bulbs – its child’s play! – then cover with soil around double the depth of the bulb. At the end of winter you should be able to lift the netting , shake off the soil, remove the new bulb from on top of the decayed last year’s bulb, ready for you to store in a frost free place over winter.
When buying gladioli bulbs, – usually the larger the bulb size the larger the flowering spike ( at least 14 flowers per stem) so try to get at least 12/14 cm dia. bulbs. Keep in mind – that some shops will sell the bulbs at a very cheap price but they will be very small bulbs, with very small flowers.
Maybe a bit more difficult to grow than the other 2 listed here but it will also give quick results. When buying the tubers make sure they have at least a bit of stem attached, as the other part of the tuber ( the elongated potato like part, is only the food supply but does not have the shoots). If I were buying Dahlia tubers in March I would only buy them if I can see a slight bud beginning to protrude from the stem of the tuber otherwise it is most probably totally dried out, and if it already has shoots longer than a few cm. I would also leave it on the shop shelf.
For those that are not particular on a certain variety , I saw some really good size tubers in Lidl at an unbeatable price of £5 for 8. Wilkinson has also a selection.
Let the kids help you planting them in the ground, keep the frosts and slugs away and each plant can reward you with dozens of flowers , that are useful for cutting too. Why not give your child their own vase for them to fill with their own flowers, – I am sure they will already begin to fill it next week with dandelions!
Good Gardening to you all