Time to sow winter crops

In Your Garden this week: Still time to sow spinach, cabbages and turnips; raising Ranunculus from seed; and keeping your anemones close.

Vegetable garden
Winter greens in yet?

Gardeners with south-facing properties or ones overshadowed by high trees may have left it too late for crops to reach maturity before growth stops.

Celery needs regular and plentiful watering at this stage to stop it running to seed. Adding liquid manure promotes lush growth.

Prickly spinach can still be sown for winter use.

White turnip can be sown in rich soil and watered well. Keep them growing with regular watering, mulching and protecting from insect pests.

Chives are an excellent substitute for spring onions. Easy to grow in most soils, chive clumps can be divided and replanted in autumn and early spring. Space 25cm apart and water regularly to encourage new, tender growth. Once the plants are established, cut foliage regularly to encourage new growth.

Cabbage seed can be sown now for spring crops. Choose a partly-shaded seed bed and water the soil well before sprinkling in seeds.

Strawberry runners can be planted as soon as they form roots. Water well and plant with the crown level with the soil.

Flower garden
Ranunculus and anemone are commonly introduced to gardens by planting bulbs or corms. A cheaper way of acquiring a large stock is to raise from seed.

Ranunculus and anemones sown now will reach a good size before winter arrives and stops all growth.

Polyanthus sown now will produce strong plants in spring. Sow in a large container with plenty of drainage. Sow seed thinly and cover with a light dressing of fine soil.

Half-immerse the pot in water until moisture has soaked up to the surface, then cover with glass or plastic to prevent evaporation.

Place in a cool, shady place and keep moist, following method above. When the seedlings have five or six leaves, transplant into other containers until they are large enough to transplant to open ground.

Primulas and auriculas require similar treatment. Auriculas can be lifted now, broken up and replanted in soil enriched with compost and bonemeal.

Plant firmly and deeply, covering the fleshy rhizomes and spreading out the roots.

Anemones, flowering in spring and summer, usually take seven months or more to flower from seed sowing. That can be done now, preferably in a sunny, sheltered position filled with rich soil.

Sow the woolly seed in shallow drills or broadcast. To separate the seeds, rub them through the hands with some sharp sand. Water thoroughly as seedlings appear.

Thin to 10cm and transplant those removed to another bed or use to fill gaps. Anemones grown this way produce full-size flowering plants next season.

Pelargoniums will have finished flowering and can be cut back.

Begonias require stimulants to grow and flower. Remove seed vessels, unless some are required for seed.

Geraniums, lilies, fuchsias and other greenhouse flowers need watering during warm weather. Occasional liquid manure will be of benefit, too.

Watch out for red spider and aphis.

Cyclamens are due for repotting this month. Shake corms out of their pots and re-pot in fresh soil mixture.

Water well after planting the corms half-deep and place in a cool, shaded place. Lightly spray each day with water or, if greenfly appear, with insecticide.

Cyclamen seed can be sown now, producing plants to flower in about 18 months' time. They will not come true to type.

Freesias can be started in early autumn. They like rich soil. If placed in pots with rough drainage holes, cover them with turf, moss or dead leaves to prevent the soil dropping through.

Place pots in a cool place and give little or no water until plant tops have come through the soil. Once in full growth, they respond to regular watering and liquid manure.


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