Making an Early Start
Speaker: Brian Kidd
Date: 30th March
Brian Kidd, the Society’s President, brought along a great deal of demonstration material for his very “hands on” and fun talk. Examples were passed around for inspection and interest.
Brian’s talk ranged from advice on how to conserve energy in the green house with bubble wrap, and how to protect tender camellias from frost with a large ladies dress! Seed planting instruction and hints were delivered with Brian’s charming and amusing style. In all cases, don’t forget to label.
First peas: plant four to a cell filled with F2S Levingtons compost, smooth off surplus without pressing down and water with Cheshunt compound to combat fungal disease. Plant out when ready in March. Another novel method is to plant the peas in a round seed pan in a clock configuration, water with Cheshunt compound and cover with vermiculite which allows light through. Keep out of direct sunlight and turn the pan every day to keep the seedlings short. Then pot on with the seedling stem buried so the top leaves are only 1/4” above the compost to encourage adventitious roots.
Plant out after the 3rd week in May. For runner beans Brian recommended they are planted on wet paper in a lunch box with wet paper on top with the lid on. After two days they will have doubled in size. After a few more days a curly white root will appear and then the bean should be planted in a cell with compost, watered and put in the light. Plant them out after 21st May, one per pole on the inside of a pyramid of 8/10, 8 ft poles tied together at the top. The beans will be ready for picking at the end of July. Swede of turnip seeds should be dipped in boron to combat flea beetle attack and planted one seed per cell. When ready plant them out 9” apart preferable in chalky soil at the end of May.
For perfect parsnips, take a screw topped jar with ¼” of water, add 50 seeds, screw it up and shake for 7 days until white roots appear. Use a pole to make deep holes and fill them with loamless compost. Water and pop two seeds in, thin to one when they have grown. To avoid carrot fly attack on carrots, make a wood frame 8’ x 4’ and cover with fleece pegged down to hold it. Add blood/fish/bone plus sand to the bed before sewing seeds in rows 1” deep and 12” apart. Alternatively use plastic water pipe with sticks pushed into the ends to make hoops over the wood frame and micromesh over the hoops. Crop rotation is important for these raised beds.
Brian then went on to polyanthus and how to keep them by digging up after flowering, washing, separating and planting up in pots and out in October/November. Also for both polyanthus and busy lizzy seed, use a desert spoon of sharp sand in a screw topped jar, add seed and shake for five minutes. Sew in a pan, sprinkle over the seed/sand mix, use Cheshunt compound and cover with one sheet of newspaper as they must germinate in the light. Sprouts should appear in 10/14 days.
Anemone corms should be planted in clock formation in a round seed pan. If they all don’t appear investigate the blind station and turn the corm up the other way. Plant the group out when ready and don’t separate them.
Strawberries were next on the list. In the greenhouse keep them in the cold until after 21st January, then peg down the runners in pots as newly rooted plants give the best results. Change every three years. Hand pollination is necessary in the greenhouse.
Finally Brian described aerial layering for magnolias. In the spring make a slanting cut with a very sharp knife above 3 or 4 nodes on the chosen branch. Fill the cut with wet moss and bind around tightly with black polythene. It should have rooted by October.
Brian’s humorous and interesting talk was well attended and enjoyed by 40 members and guests. He was happy to answer questions afterwards.