Tag Archives: cultivation

Nature Loves to Propogate

We all love the opportunity to acquire free plants, so when nature hands them to you on a platter it’s only right to make the most of them.

Here’s a succulent pup I came across lying forlorn on the decking back in the Summer.  At that point it was just one leaf, probably knocked off it’s mother plant at some point.  I popped it into it’s very own terracotta pot with a mix of multipurpose compost and horticultural grit for good drainage and held my breath!

In a very short space of time it has rooted well and is growing happily.  I’m pretty sure it’s Aeonium ‘Blushing Beauty’ and am thrilled at the prospect of having another of these fabulous plants to add to my ever growing collection.

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The Spiral Aloe

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Here’s another beautiful Aloe which I have yet to add to my collection. A. polyphylla is a stemless Aloe with an amazing spiral arrangement of leaves giving it its common name of Spiral Aloe.  Spiral phyllotaxy is common in the … Continue reading

Harvesting the Seeds of Calendula officinalis

So these final few warm dry days of Summer have encouraged my Calendula seeds to ripen to the point where they need to be collected.

I know they’re ready because they have turned a dry brown colour.

They need to be collected at this stage as the plant will shed them soon after, which is okay if you want them growing there again next year, but I don’t.

Growing Garlic

Garlic has long been known for its health benefits and I eat rather a lot of it, so this year I thought I’d have a go at growing my own.

 

 

Garlic prefers a light, well-drained soil in full sun, it won’t tolerate wet and heavy soils.  If this is your soil you can plant in modules in the autumn and plant out in Spring as the weather improves.  Garlic can only be grown from bulbs because viable seed is extremely difficult to produce at present.

Garlic Bulb

There are two types of garlic, ‘hardneck’ and ‘softneck’ referring to the way they grow.  The hardneck varieties produce a flower stem known as a scape which can be used in soups, curries and stirfries and has a more delicate flavour than the bulb.  The softneck varieties don’t produce a scape but have a longer shelf life.

Garlic Clove

Garlic needs a cold period to grow successfully so the best time to plant is the autumn though there are spring planting varieties available.    The bulb should be carefully split into it’s separate cloves and each clove planted 2.5cm below the surface with the root scar facing down, the clove should be sitting just below the surface.  They should be planted 10cm apart in rows that are 30cm apart.  Addition of compost at the planting stage will help the soil structure keeping it light and feed the cloves as they grow.

Garlic plants …

Garlic needs limited maintenance except for keeping it weed free, watering during long dry spells and protection from birds who’ll be tempted to pull the bulbs out of the ground.  There are two diseases to look out for which are white spot which will rot the roots and eventually the bulb too and rust which shows up as rusty spots on the leaves.  There is no cure for either and you should avoid growing garlic in the same spot for at least 3 years if you have either of these problems.  Crop rotation will help to discourage these pathogens.

Autumn planted garlic can be harvested around June or July the following year. You know when it’s ready to harvest when the leaves start to turn yellow, don’t put this job off or you may find the bulb re-sprouts causing it to rot later and thereby reduce its shelf life.  Take care when lifting the bulbs out of the ground not to damage them with your trowel as this too will compromise their keeping qualities.

Pot Marigold for the Flower Garden

Pot Marigold

Calendula officinalis, the Pot Marigold is native to central Europe and the Mediterranean.

It’s common name, “marigold” is most likely derived from its association with the Virgin Mary and its Latin name Calendula comes from the Latin word Kalendae, “first day of the month” in the Roman calendar possibly because it can  be found in flower at the beginning of most months of the year.

It was used in ancient Greece and Rome and in early Indian and Arabic cultures.  Because of its excellent antiseptic, healing and detoxifying properties it is a major herb in modern Western medicine.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to colour foods, fabrics and cosmetics, as well as for medicinal purposes.

Pot Marigold

Its petals can be used as a substitute for saffron in soups and rice dishes as well as used fresh in salads.  When infused it can add colour to dairy products such as cheese, butter and milk desserts.

Calendula is a hardy annual which self seeds profusely.  Removing dead flowerheads will prolong flowering and help to control self seeding if desired.  Because it is hardy, seeds can be sown in situ in either spring or autumn.  There are a few pests and diseases that you should look out for namely powdery mildew (as you can see in the photograph, mine have succumbed), rust, cucumber mosaic virus and caterpillars.

Powdery Mildew

This is such an easy flower to grow and one of my all time favourites.  Mine are setting seed which I’ll be collecting for next year’s crop.

Seeds ripening …

Potting-On Bonsai

The word Bonsai means ‘tree in a tray’ in Japanese.

Chinese Elm

Keeping the root environment healthy is  essential when cultivating bonsai trees, and that means re-potting when the roots become overcrowded or the plant is still in the early stages of growth.

When choosing the media you should use the tree species as a guide and use a soil composition which replicates that in which it would grow in its natural habitat.  Generally though a mix of equal parts loam, peat and sand would be fine.  Alternatively, you can buy proprietary bonsai composts which will suit most species.

My bonsai is a Chinese Elm which has been in my family for nearly 20 years (no pressure to keep it healthy!).  It has been a while since I re-potted it last, the roots are in need of trimming and the soil is depleted.  Here I explain the simple process of re-potting it.

Soak the whole rootball until saturated.

Making sure the root zone is wet will lessen the risk of transplant shock

Tease out the old soil from the roots.

Remove as much old compost as possible

Trim any excessively long roots.

Place a layer of fresh compost back in the tray before replacing the tree and gently dibbing in the fresh compost around the roots making sure there are no air pockets.

Adding new compost

Water well with a rose.

Caring for your Moth Orchid

Phalaenopsis is a large genus of epiphytic plants, that is they grow on other plants but aren’t parasitic.  The moth orchid produces superb flower spikes which are extremely long lasting.  If the plant is strong it may produce several flower spikes a year and some might even flower continuously.  The species can be found ranging from India to New Guinea on the upper branches of trees in forests where there is heat and humidity.  Most of those currently in cultivation can be found in the Phillipines and its neighbouring islands.

Growing indoors is easy.  Orchid compost, which is essentially bark, can easily be bought at most garden centres.  Heat and humidity are essential to the plants health but direct sunlight, especially in summer will scorch the foliage so a bright windowsill where light is filtered or shaded greenhouse are best.  Because Phalaenopsis are essentially hot-house orchids, the plant shouldn’t be allowed to dry out especially during the summer when the roots are actively growing.  Fresh air and ventilation are important but avoid draughty spots.

Where the potting compost has deteriorated, rather than disturb the actively growing plant, it can topped up as necessary.

Moth orchids should only be re-potted when absolutely necessary, when it is clear the root system has outgrown its pot.  When re-potting, the older roots should be pruned back.  Rockwool or a proprietary orchid compost (bark based) are the usual potting media.  Drainage should be sharp so adding a few crocks to the pot when potting on is a good idea.

During the flowering period, August onwards (length dependent on growing conditions) I water mine once a week, more if necessary.

I’m not a lazy gardener, but I’d have to recommend this orchid as being one of the least troublesome plants I’ve ever had the pleasure of growing.

 

 

Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’

Flowers just emerging …

This is a delightful little evergreen perennial which will spread by forming new clumps.  It has distinctive black grass-like leaves and racemes of lilac flowers in the summer.  Flowers are followed by small black fruits (inedible).  It grows to a height of 23cm and will spread to 30cm.  It is easy to divide and replant around the garden.  I have just re-potted a small clump for display on the toolshed.