Tag Archives | Beginner

New Places for Growing Cress

HC & York 115

Egg and Cress sandwiches from your own home grown cress – marvelous and so easy.

I liked the Cress growing in this large wine glass at a local cafe so I thought I would grow some as I did as a child.

  • Fill your glass with an absorbent paper towel or blotting paper.
  • Dampen the paper and if necessary add more paper so the Cress will grow above the rim of the glass. This is a bit low to get at the sprouted cress.
  • Sow seeds evenly onto the damp paper.
  • To get good germination, make sure the freshly sown seed is kept in the dark.
  • These will take from ten to fourteen days to mature.
  • Mustard grows 3 days quicker than cress so if growing both sow Mustard later.
  • As there is no drainage do not flood with water keep just damp.
  • Harvest whilst still young and crisp.

Proper cress as in “Mustard and Cress” is Lepidium sativum and the Mustard is Brassica hirta. Beware many supermarkets sell oilseed rape seedlings (Brassica napus) as Cress with little or no flavour.

Beware if you grow on soil the seed husks drag up the soil as the plant grows and can create a gritty feel to your harvest. I like the scent of growing Cress but it may not be to everyones taste.

Other places or receptacles for growing your crop of Cress could include a smart plant pot, broken or chipped china but not grannies best antiques. I put a pot on top of the TV and the water leaked and broke it!

Cress seeds and other ‘sprouters’ from Thompson Morgan

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Tips for Flowering Shrubs in Your Border

Tips for Designing Shrub Borders

  • Create a tiered effect in your border by using shrubs of different heights.
  • Plant low growing types at the base and later flowering ground cover.
  • Select flowering shrubs who’s colour will lead the eye from one plant to the next.
  • Only bother to prune to take out dead wood or if the shrubs become unruly or too high.
  • Grow flowering shrubs to make a partially shaded plot for delicate flowers.
  • Plant larger trees or shrubs off-center to avoid a too formal appearance.

Plant selection for an Acid Soil Border

  • Camellia japonica can be planted at the back as it will grow 6-12 feet tall but only spread 3-5 feet. Red, white and pink are the most common colours to buy and the thick leathery leaves are evergreen.
  • Azalea Knap Hill hybrids or Mollis are very floriferous decidious plants that flower in spring before the leaves grow. Mine are now 4 feet tall after 5 years. Depending on the size of you border I would use 3, 5 or 7 of these great plants in various colours.
  • Callicarpa bodinieri produces stunning purple berries in Autumn 3-6 feet tall and wide.
  • At the front you may need some shade loving plants like Epimedium with copper tinted leaves. Trillium sessile has ivy like leaves and white, red or brown springtime flowers.
  • For shape it may be appropriate to add some Box (Boxus Sempervirens) near the front. 12-36″ tall.

Other Selections

  • The scheme above is strongly spring flowering and Mahonia x media ‘ Charity’ or Pieris japonica could also be incorporated into the planting.
  • For summer interest you may substitute or add Escallonia ‘Apple Blossom’, Hydrangea macrophylla or a hardy Fuchsia magellancia.
  • Ceanothus ‘Autumn Blue’ will fit in a sunny spot and a variegated Ilex aquifolium at up to 12 feet adds berry interest late in the year.
  • For general all year round cover the Elaegnus pungens Maculata has good colour in the leaves, Euonymus can grow to 10 feet and Skimmia has cream flowers in spring followed by red berries.

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February Tips for Gardeners

Hederefolium

Beginners Tips

  • In the UK it is still too cold to start most seeds and plants. Leave those tempting seedlings in the garden centres and wait until at least the end of the month to sow broad beans, early peas, leeks and sweetpeas.
  • On a fine February morning you can improve your garden with a spring clean. Cut down old annuals that you left in place for the seed heads, edge the lawn if it looks forlorn, and tidy up loose leaves.
  • Treat paths that have moss and algae built up and repair any raised or misplace paving stones.
  • Spread well rotted manure or compost on the top of your vegetable patch and around hungry shrubs like roses.
  • Review seed and plant catalogues and decide what you want to grow and where. If you are going to give each plant enough space you do not need as many plants as you expect so buy fewer good quality seeds and stock.
  • Keep feeding the birds, they will soon have young to feed

Advanced Tips

  • If you left your soil turned over in large clumps for the frost to break them down too a fine tilth, then wait a bit longer as February can have some terrific frosts.
  • With a heated propagator you can start fuchsia cuttings with a bit of bottom heat.
  • Remember all the early plants you start now will need space and protection from frost for quite a while yet. I always grow more than I can protect.
  • Look after your quality tools. Give them a clean and sharpen before they are pressed into really active service. Prepare an oily sand plunge pit so you can quickly oil and clean them in busy period.
  • Prune and reshape fruit trees but not stone fruit which need to wait until summer.
  • Check over and do any preventative maintenance jobs now so you can concentrate your efforts on growing show stopping plants later on.
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