Not so much cunning, but at least it is A Plan – which is more than be said of my cutting bed activities so far. Julie of Peonies and Posies is posting a review of her cutting beds today so I made a bit of an effort to get some sort of organisation into mine. I may be up to date on my sowing (listed under the ‘Sowing 2014-15‘ tab), but until today I had little clue where the resultant plants were going to end up, or whether I would even have room for them all! It was more a matter of – ‘ooh it would nice to grow those’, ‘they would like nice in a vase’, ‘they’re free, I’ll have them’ or ‘yes please, I would love some of your seeds’ – you know the sort of thing….
This week I planted out the rest of the late summer sown Sweet Williams, centaurea, Poppy ‘Swansdown’ and Californian Poppy ‘Ivory Castle’, mostly elsewhere in the garden, but I could have incorporated them into the cutting beds if I had prepared a plan earlier so I will have learned from this for next year. Once I had drawn up the basic plan, I divided the beds into sections a little less than 0.5m square and, having roughly listing the seeds by colour and height, I allocated them each a section (the number of plants per section will vary). The original intention was to plant dahlias in the corner bed where the rhubarb used to be, but with alliums and tulips already planted here incorporating dahlias later would be too disruptive (there are in fact more than 4 dahlias to find homes for but the others can go somewhere else – don’t know where yet!).
Of course not all the seedlings may successfully reach planting out stage, but coincidentally there was just enough space to allocate a section to all the seeds I am growing so far! It will be some weeks before any more seedlings are ready to be planted out, but November sown Ammi visnaga and Bupleurium are looking promising, whilst sweet peas sown at the same time have put on a spurt and probably desperately want to get going in the big wide world (some to be planted against the fence that edges most of the cutting beds). Cerinthe seedlings also look sturdy, unlike previous attempts.
Included in the list of seeds planted this year is a key to say whether they were last year’s seeds, seeds collected, freebies or for a Which? Gardening trial. Most of the seed sown from left over packets still germinated, but not always reliably. Seed was collected from Ruby Eclipse and Topolino sunflowers, but the latter were obviously not completely dry when packaged and have rotted but the Ruby Eclipse seeds are doing well. Most seeds germinated within 3-5 days on my ‘contraption’ next to the Aga and were immediately moved to the greenhouse, and there have been virtually no failures – although it took about a fortnight before nigella seeds began to show in any quantity. Seeds sown in quarter trays have been pricked out as soon as they have their first pair of true leaves, usually within 2-3 weeks, and keeping records of these timings will be helpful in future. The slowest progress is from antirrhinums which germinated promptly but are still not ready to be pricked out, despite being sown in early February. Perhaps someone can tell me if this is the norm?
Having just sown larkspur seeds today for the first time I note from the packet than they can also be sown in late summer for earlier flowering – looking into what else can be sown then or in autumn is a definite must, as my late 2014 sowings have been very successful. Last year, with no real plan at all and some very dodgy compost the cutting beds were far from productive. This year, with half a plan and better compost things are looking more promising and my knowledge and experience are growing. I wonder how other bloggers are getting on with their cutting beds? Do have a look at Julie’s blog where they will be leaving links in due course and to see her progress too – there is something for us all to learn from these shared experiences.