WHAT IS PRICKING OUT?




When seeds germinate the first leaves to appear are the cotyledons or seed leaves. These are usually a pair of oval, fleshy leaves that bear no resemblance to the mature leaves of the plant.

The conventional advice is that seedlings should not be pricked out or transplanted until the first true leaves appear, but the gardener must exercise common sense and move them on only when they are large enough to handle. In the case of large seedlings, such as Courgettes or Marrows, this could be before the true leaves have developed and it is sound advice to sow such subjects individually in small pots.

Removing tiny seedlings from the sowing container into trays of a good universal compost can be a delicate business. The golden rule is never to handle the plants by their stems, which bruise easily, but always by their seed leaves. Some people use a sharpened or tapered piece of wood, such as an ice lolly stick, or a metal device called a widger to separate and ease out the seedlings, taking care not to damage the delicate roots.

Invariably there will be more seedlings to transplant than available trays to accommodate them, so some will have to be sacrificed, given to friends or put into the compost bin. The important point is to give the transplanted seedlings adequate space to become sturdy young plants. As a rough guide, allow about 50 seedlings to each full size tray.

It is good planning to prepare the planting holes in the trays of well-moistened compost before you actually lift out the seedlings from the sowing container. Simply ease each seedling into position with the roots falling neatly into the hole, then gently firm the compost into contact with the baby plant while still holding it by the seed leaf.

Proprietary composts contain enough plant food to give the pricked-out seedlings a good start in life, but you can, if you wish, start feeding with a dilute liquid fertiliser, such as Maxi-crop, Liquinure or Phostrogen, after a couple of weeks or so.

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HOW TO GROW GIANT ONIONS


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Written by featured author, Margaret Robinson

To many gardeners the sight in August of a bed of very large onions just reaching maturity is a treasured satisfaction of a job well done. This achievement can be reached by even the new gardener given the correct soil, preparation and of course the important, correct variety.

Preparation of the soil should be started as soon as the previous crop has been harvested, but never when the soil is too wet, for this breaks the soil structure, this work is best done before Christmas.

To achieve top results the onion bed should be a well open site with good drainage, trench approximately. 18in (45cm) deep, fork the bottom of each trench if solid. Into every four square yards of the bed work in the following: four forkfuls of pea, bean or pea haulms, one barrow of well rotted farmyard manure, 5oz (141gm) bone meal, 6oz (170gm) sulphate of potash.

First scatter the haulms in the bottom of the trench and mix the fertiliser and manure into the trench topsoil. It is very important that the greater amount of manure is within 4in (10cm) of the surface, to make sure that the roots contact this during the early stages of growth. After trenching it is an advantage to scatter 8oz (227gm) of basic slag on the top. The bed can then be left over winter.
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During March when the topsoil starts to dry out add to the four square yards 2oz (57gm) superphosphate and 1oz (28gm) hydrated lime or we have found calcified seaweed at the rate of 0.7 kg to the area of great benefit.

January is a very important month, for this is the month for the sowing of the mammoth onions, they are, a long season onion therefore sowing should be done during January and February. Sow using a seed tray and a good seedling compost, we favour John Innes No. 1 for sowing, but if you are unable to obtain a good supply, one of the soil-less composts can be used.

Cover the seeds once sown with 0.6cm of the same compost which has been put through a fine sieve. At a temperature of 55F (12.8C) germination should take approximately two weeks. The compost should be kept moist during this period. Avoid germinating the seeds at a higher temperature or other than greenhouse conditions. If you have problems with keeping the temperature in the greenhouse, which during January can be quite difficult, we suggest that you delay sowing to late February.
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Once the seedlings are approximately 1.75cm above the soil surface 'crook stage' transplant into a stronger potting compost John Innes No. 2 or soil-less type, pots or boxes can be used but the best results are obtained from single potted plants. This stage is very critical, especially if the weather is dull and dark, watering should be kept to a minimum during these times, a spray with Benlate fungicide after potting can prevent botrytis (damping off).

The seedlings should be kept in the greenhouse, ventilate as much as possible to help grow a strong plant rather than a soft one. Plants which were sown in January can be carried out of the greenhouse into a cold frame in early April to harden the plant prior to planting, later sown plants, during the middle of April. Planting time can vary from area to area, and from spring to spring, but by the first week in May the onion plants in almost every area can be planted.

Work the previously prepared ground into a fine tilth, the onions can then be planted at approximately. 12in x 16in (30cm x 41cm) apart, with the base of the plant 1in (2.5cm) below ground level. We have found a great advantage in covering the plants with cloches, or plastic tunnels for two to three weeks after planting.

Feeding, this is quite a talking point with keen gardeners. On established onion beds feeding is not necessary, in fact harm is done by feeding on such beds making the onions very soft with poor keeping qualities. If feeding is to be done this is best done early in the season and never after the end of June, nitrate of soda at the rate of one teaspoon per gallon (4.5L) of water to one square yard can be used as a feed.

When to harvest, here again much has been written on this subject, we have done many experiments into this and have found that best results for good store onions is to pull while still a little growth in the tops. This will be from mid August onwards but before second week in September.

For the show bench allow approximately ten days before the show day for the preparation. For kitchen or show take the top off approximately 6in (15cm) above the bulb, cut off the root and any split off decayed skin, wipe the bulbs with a soft damp cloth to remove any soil. Place the onions on a bench in a greenhouse or shed with plenty of ventilation and sunlight. For kitchen use leave on the bench for approximately two weeks to dry, then store in boxes, or string bags in a frost free, cool and dry area.

Exhibitors will, after seven days from harvesting, be able to bend the top of the onion over, this can be secured with a rubber band or raffia.

Beacon, Bunton's Showstopper, Mammoth, and Ailsa Craig will, if given good propagation and growing, give full satisfaction whether being grown for kitchen or show. No garden is quite complete without a bed of onions, we hope that we have helped a little to help you achieve the best possible results from your seed.

Margaret Robinson is one of the directors of W. Robinson and Son who specialise in large-sized vegetables.

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बीज से प्याज कैसे विकसित करने के

HOW TO GROW POTATOES IN POTS OR CONTAINERS





This article has been written by guest author Dani Higginson.

Even if you only have a small urban garden the good news is that you can still grow potatoes successfully. The secret is to grow them in pots.
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With proper preparation, the right type of container and some TLC, 12 to 16 weeks after planting you can be enjoying some first early potatoes. And there is nothing like the taste of a homegrown potato pulled straight from the ground, gently washed, lightly steamed, and served with lashings of butter.

So what will you need?
Some good quality seed potatoes of course, and a decent compost mix. Resist the temptation to use garden soil, as you will be growing a large crop of weeds as well as potatoes if you do.
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Starting from the begining, you will need some sort of container hold the seed potatoes in order to chit them (grow strong shoots before planting); this is necessary to kick-start the growing process. Recycle some old egg boxes and turn them into chitting trays. Stand a tuber, blunt-end up, in each compartment and store in a cool, light place for about six weeks prior to planting out.

Then choose your planting container. Terracotta ones look very nice on a patio, as will the plastic imitation variety; these are lighter and are less prone to frost damage. They will also prevent the compost drying out quickly as what will happen with terracotta pots.

If you are a keen 'recycler', old dustbins are also ideal for potato growing - as are old fertilizer bags, but watch that they don’t overheat! As these types of container are often produced from a dark PVC or plastic, they can easily absorb energy the sun in the form of heat and this will cause the compost inside to dry out far quicker than other types of container. There is an upside to this as the higher temperatures will increase the metabolism of your potato plants, creating a longer and more productive growing season and will also help to increase the size your final crop! Just remember that you will need to make some holes in the bottom for drainage, so that your potato plants do not become waterlogged.

Whatever kind of container you choose make sure that it is big enough. Forty liters is a minimum - any smaller and you will be watering endlessly. For this size of pot don’t be tempted to plant it with any more than four seed potatoes.

...When you come to plant the tubers make sure that they have at least two good shoots; smaller and weaker shoots can be rubbed off. Half fill the container with potting compost, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in. Push the tubers gently into the soil with the shoots (the eyes) upwards and cover with 1 to 4 inches of soil.

Keep the growing medium moist, and add more soil /fertilizer mix around the plants when they reach around six inches in height to prevent light reaching the developing tubers. It does not matter if the green top is almost covered as it will grow on strongly and will develop more tubers. If light gets to the tubers they will turn green and become inedible.

Most of the popular varieties of potato grow well in pots. Earlies are especially good - planted in late March they will be ready for eating in late June. Nothing is better from the garden than those first early potatoes, but they do need protection from frosts in March and April (cover shoots with newspaper if frost is forecast). Arran Pilot is an old variety, but is still one of the best all-rounders.


Second earlies take 16 to 17 weeks to mature; Maris Peer is a good one to grow.

Main crop potatoes such as Maris Piper and Cara have an 18-week growing time and will take you right through to a late October crop.

It is quite easy to grow potatoes organically in pots. There is really no need to use any form of chemicals when growing potatoes on this scale. Always buy your potato tubers from a reputable source to eliminate the risk of diseases such as potato blight.

Growing some potatoes of your own each year is certainly worth the trouble. Most people stick with first earlies, as the taste of an early crop straight from your own garden cannot be surpassed.

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HOW TO GROW FOXGLOVES FROM SEED - by Terence Baker





Guest author Terence Baker is the holder of the National Collection of Digitalis. He also runs the Botanical Nursery in Wiltshire.
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The Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), so much a part of the British countryside, is perhaps one of the few native plants to be well received in gardens. They do seem to have the ability to spring up almost unnoticed, that is until their towering flower stems dominate the garden. Once there, few gardeners have the heart to remove them, thus insuring more in future seasons, for Foxgloves are great seeders.

.Digitalis purpurea is just one species of a genus containing, depending on which books you read, more than twenty species, geographic variations, hybrids and abnormalities. Some are known and are commercially available garden plants, others are obscure and sought after. Several, as yet, appear to be known only in Botanic Gardens and in the collections of enthusiasts. All are interesting and worthwhile plants. In the main they are hardy but some are resentful of our winter wet, or are naturally so floriferous as to be short lived.

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Some species, such as D. grandiflora, x mertonensis, parviflora, are sound perennials especially if divided, which can be tricky! Other such as D. ferruginea are biennial and like so many biennials are best considered monocarpic, that is they die after setting seed, therefore with the exception of sterile hybrids they are best propagated by seed.

Seed is available of at least half the species in general cultivation from various seed companies. Many of the rest can be obtained from seed lists of various societies as well as the National Collections, enthusiasts and botanic gardens. The seed is fine, uniformly sized and easy to handle.
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When possible it is best collected as soon as the capsule splits. When ripe the best and most viable seed will fall easily into a paper envelope, any that remain may not be of such good quality and attempting to dislodge it may well cause the good seed to be polluted with capsule debris, a potential hazard.
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Once collected there is much to be said for sowing some as soon as possible, the seed is generally ready by early August and sowing at this time allows the young plants to become established before any hard weather. Such sowings may be over-wintered in a well ventilated cold frame or, in the case of less hardy species, a frost free glasshouse, for planting out in early April.

.Depending on the quantity required, 4 inch (10cm) half pots or seed trays may be used. A seed tray will easily accommodate several hundred seedlings, far more than the average gardener requires even to support local NCCPG or other sales. Do not sow too thickly. Ideally the young plants should not touch. A good quality seed compost should be used, this should be levelled and gently firmed in the usual way.

Once sown do not cover the seed as Digitalis require light for germination, this accounts for the failure described by some gardeners. The seed should be lightly pressed into the compost. I prefer to water-in overhead with a very fine rose watering can. Watering overhead is preferred as a general rule because this can reduce any germination inhibitors that adhere to the seed of some genera. If you would prefer not to use a can, then the sown pots may be stood in a shallow depth of water, once the surface of the compost darkens the container should be removed, the compost should not be allowed to become sodden.

.The containers should be covered with clean glass. If the seed is sown in late summer a shaded cold frame or cool greenhouse is a suitable environment, or the north side of a wall; high temperatures should be avoided. If the seed is to be spring sown it should be stored in a dry paper bag or envelope which must be kept cool and dry under which conditions the seed lasts well. Long term deep refrigerated storage in a sealed container with silica gel is possible, this should last indefinitely.

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Spring sown seed usually in March is sown in the same way, preferably in a frost-free glasshouse. Earlier sowing in January will produce plants which may well flower the first year from seed. Such sowing should be made in a warm glasshouse or propagator kept at 60-65°F (15-18°C).

Whichever way is chosen the resulting plants should be pricked out. In the case of species the strongest should be chosen. With hybrids try retaining some of the weakest plants as these occasionally produce the most interesting colours. Both should be potted into small pots.

Alternatively seed can be sown directly into the flowering position and if kept moist germination takes about 21 days and, when large enough, the resulting seedlings may be thinned to stand about 12 inches (30cm) apart. Generally the species will come true from seed, however hybrids and forms will intercross; parent plants should be isolated to avoid confusion.

Source of article Growing From Seed - Winter 188-89 Vol. 3 Number 1 © The Seed Raising Journal from Thompson & Morgan.

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HOW TO GROW CARROTS FROM SEED





Success with any root vegetable has a lot to do with to the quality of soil they're grown in, and same is true when it comes to growing carrots. So to get the most out of your crop it's worth taking the time to prepare your site before you even start to think about sowing any seed!

Begin (if you can) by digging over your soil in late winter or early spring and remove any stones you find as this will help to prevent the carrot root from 'forking' as it develops. Then thoroughly turning the soil until it has a fine, crumbly texture.

Carrot seeds are small, but it's wise to plant them as thinly as possible. This will reduce the amount of thinning necessary and reduce the potential risk from pests. One week before sowing your seeds, rake in a light dressing of general fertiliser.

Sow the seeds thinly on a sunny, dry day in shallow drills around 2-3cm (1in) deep, covering the seeds once in place. Early sowings in March and April may need to be protected with a fleece or cloche in the colder parts of the country.
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If you have difficulty sowing carrot seed thinly, try mixing the seeds with a handful of sharp sand and then sowing the seeds and sand together. The sand will aid drainage and will allow for a thinner sowing.
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Sowing thinly is important because if carrots are competing for growth in the same space, you will end up with a overall smaller crop.

Once the seeds have germinated and are showing their first rough leaves, thin the seedlings to appropriately 5cm (2 in) between plants.

Carrots will need little further attention during their growth period, although the plants should be kept well watered - too little water results in coarse, woody roots.

Photograph care of carletongarden.blogspot.com
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How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in Pots or Containers
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How to Grow Tomatoes from Seed
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How to Grow the Angel's Trumpet from Seed
How to Grow the Autumn Broad Bean 'Aquadulce Claudia'
How to Grow the Autumn Fava Bean 'Aquadulce Claudia'
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How to Grow Watermelon Plants from Seed Outdoors
How to Grow Winter Lettuce from Seed
How to Plant and Grow Artichokes
How to Grow Autumn Sowings of Broad Beans
How to Plant Plants?
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How to Propagate and Grow Chili Peppers from Seed
How to Propagate and Grow Sweet Peppers from Seed
How to Propagate and Grow the Bell Pepper from Seed
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How to Propagate Strawberries
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How to Sow and Grow Courgettes from Seed Indoors
How to Sow and Grow Courgettes from Seed Outdoors
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How to Take Cuttings from Sweet Potatoes
Mexican Jumping Bean
Organic Control of Carrot Fly
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The Pineapple
What is an Artichoke?
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What is the Difference Between Fruit and Vegetables
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When to harvest Pumpkins
Which Salad Crop Seeds can be sown in August?
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Which Vegetable Seeds can be Sown in September
Which Vegetable Seeds can be Grown in November?
Zafran

WHICH PART OF AN ARTICHOKE DO YOU EAT?



You often see huge, seasonal artichoke heads in the supermarket, and as exotic as they are - there is no obvious part of it that looks remotely edible.
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And you would be right. All the tasty goodness is hidden away inside and without a point in the right direction, you are like to give trying to find it after your the first bitter taste of an artichoke petal. Yes, a petal - because the artichoke is nothing more that a huge, cultivated thistle flower!
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PARTS TO AVOID WHEN EATING AN ARTICHOKE
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The first thing to be aware of are the thorns that could be sticking out of the end of the outer petals. While some shop bought varieties are almost completely thorn less  seed grown plants will often show a little genetic variation which can result in a rows of wickedly sharp thorns - do not put them in your mouth!

The petals themselves are bitter tasting and inedible, however once cooked in boiling water these easily peel away from the base of the flower head. However, at the base of the removed petal is a tiny morsel of delicious artichoke heart which can be scrapped of with your teeth and eaten.
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Unless the artichoke is very small, you will definitely want to avoid the hairy choke.

When left to mature on the plant, these hairs go on to produce part of the seed body and if by accident you happen to get some of the choke in your mouth, the texture of it is so unpleasant you will have no alternative that to spit the whole thing out!
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The stem is also bitter tasting, however where it attaches to the heart, it too possesses some of that gorgeous artichoke flavour.

SO, WHICH PARTS OF AN ARTICHOKE CAN YOU EAT?
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The heart is the most delicious part and the only piece that is truly coveted by the gourmet chef.
The base of the outer petal are also particularly nice, and are traditionally eaten along with a tasty, creamy dip.
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On juvenile artichokes you can eat the choke as well as the bottom half of the inner petals.
.As mentioned previously, you can also eaten the internal part of the stem that is nearest to the choke.
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WHEN ARE POTATOES READY TO HARVEST?





So, how can you tell when potatoes are ready to harvest? A tricky question when your crop is obscured by a foot or two of your best soil. Without the benefit of ground penetrating radar, the most obvious method appears to be digging up the crop and having a look! Unfortunately, this action can cause unnecessary damage to the potato tubers, and - if they are not yet of a suitable size - lifting them is only going to damage the existing root structure severely delaying any future growth.

Of course there is a far easier and much less damaging way to tell when your potatoes are ready for harvesting, and it is just a matter of waiting for mother nature to show her hand.


Within a few weeks of planting your seed potatoes, fine root hairs will be produced. As these grow larger, nodules form along the roots which - in turn - will form tiny juvenile potato tubers.

These juvenile tubers will continue to swell and grow right up until the time the potato plant proper begins to produce its flowers.

As soon as this occurs, the energy from the plant will be diverted away from the production of tubers and over to the production of flowers, and the subsequent formation of its fruit and seeds.
You can consider removing any flowering heads as they form to encourage further tuber development, but with a large crop of potatoes this may be an unrealistic challenge.

So the answer to the question of when can you start lifting you potatoes is this:

As soon as they come into flower, because it is unlikely that your plants will produce and more - or any bigger - potatoes after this point.

Note. If you allow potato seeds heads to form and mature, next year you will be inundated with potato seedlings. Don't forget that these seedlings will NOT grow true to the parent plants and should be removed when seen.

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