Hartley Magazine

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Time to sow tender vegetables

Gladiolus huttonii adds a touch of beauty to a seed tray filled glasshouse.

I hope that this blog finds you safe and well. With so many people currently seeking solace in their greenhouse and garden and with such a massive resurgence of interest in ‘growing your own’, it is like ‘Dig for Victory’ all over again.

This month it is time to sow bunching onions, beetroot and round rooted carrots in pots for later transplanting outdoors and French and broad beans in modules.   It is also time to sow tender vegetables in 7.5cm pots for planting out once the danger of frost has gone. These include: sweet corn, french and runner beans, outdoor cucumbers and marrows and pumpkins, sown on edge, with the seed compost warmed in the greenhouse in direct sunshine for 24 hours before use.  Instead of using pots, for the cucurbits, you can recycle paper drinking cups, with a hole punched in the base. You can also continue sowing some hardier vegetables both outside and indoors. Those indoors will germinate and grow faster, giving you an earlier crop.

Spare seed can be grown as fast-growing ‘microgreens’. These can be grown in plastic take away containers, with 1cm of compost or two or three layers of kitchen towel (don’t waste your toilet roll!) in the base. Scatter seeds over the surface, making sure they don’t cluster together too closely and suffer from ‘damping off’. Keep them well watered and harvest when they are around 5cm tall using a pair of scissors. You may get one to three crops, depending on the plant. Try fenugreek, brassicas, parsley, carrot leaves, radish and beetroot – it is well worth experimenting.

But it’s not all about vegetables. If you still haven’t re-potted greenhouse plants, do so early in the month into pots one or two sizes larger before they start into growth.

It is also time to sow half hardy annual climbers, to flower from midsummer to the first frosts. If you are sowing ‘Morning Glory’/‘Ipomoea’, soak the seeds in tepid water for 24 hours before sowing at 20C in small pots or modules, to avoid root disturbance when transplanting, then grow on in cooler conditions and ‘harden off’ when temperatures have increased. They are very cold sensitive, if chilled, they show their disapproval with pale yellow or white leaves, growth is checked, and sometimes they don’t even recover. I will be sowing Clitoria ternata a fast-growing tropical climber, with exotically shaped flowers of vivid deep blue. The seeds have been hanging around for about three years, so it will be interesting to see how many germinate. It needs plenty of warmth and sunshine and is at its best during long, hot summers. Here’s hoping! I’ll also be sowing Lablab purpureus ‘Ruby Moon’ with purple blooms and pods and purple-tinted foliage.

Finally, I must mention some gorgeous gladioli, which are unlikely to be hardy where I live, which I bought from www.borderalpines.co.uk Among them is spring flowering G. huttonii which is blooming beautifully; a real morale booster in these challenging times. Happy Gardening, take care and keep your chin up. Matt