Courier gardening expert John Stoa spends a day in the greenhouse as he offers this week’s weekly gardening tips.
April and early May have had more than their share of cold biting winds, but the greenhouse is protected from this, so plants have been putting on a lot of growth. Trying to harden off my onions, dahlias and sweet corn has been a real headache. They go out on a sunny morning but with strong cold winds, then with a wee frost forecast over nights, they had to go back inside, only to repeat this process day after day.
The hardier plants such as my cabbages, cauliflower and sprouts went out, never suffered much so they are all now planted. Geraniums are quite tough, so they went out early, then in mid April many got planted in tubs and pots. However some had put on a good bit of growth, then along came the strong winds and broke them in half.
I still have a lot of young dahlia and chrysanthemum cuttings recently rooted and now ready to pot up, but they will stay in the greenhouse for a week or so to get established.
Fig cuttings, grape vine cuttings and some gooseberry cuttings will stay a bit longer under glass as they are slow to put on growth.
Pumpkins & courgettes sown in late April have now germinated and will soon be potted up into individual pots, and will remain in the greenhouse for a few more weeks.
Tuberous begonias are always slow to grow. I have about forty growing in deep polystyrene boxes, but now the foliage is expanding they will need separating and either boxing up with a lot more space or potting up into big pots. They may take up a lot of glasshouse space, but they would not be happy with these cold nights and strong winds, so hardening off will be a wee bit later.
A summer hanging basket planted with fuchsia Southern Belle, is still under glass as the fuchsia has been extremely slow to put on any growth. My outdoor hardy fuchsia Mrs Popple has more shoots on it. Southern Belle needs a few more warm sunny days.
The tomato border has now been prepared with digging in a lot of good garden compost and adding some fertiliser. It was then well watered and a couple of days later my tomatoes got planted. My main crop is still favourite Alicante with Sweet Million my best cherry type and this year I am trying another cherry, the yellow fruited Sungold, and a beefsteak type known as Costoluto fiorentino, an Italian Heirloom variety.
Pepper Tobasco sown in mid March germinated just fine then got potted up, but they really need warm conditions, so growth has been at a standstill. Just like humans they eagerly await the summer. Whatever happened to the promise of a wee bit of global warming for Scotland!!!
Grape Black Hamburg and Siegerebe both appear to be well ahead in growth and many shoots are showing two bunches of grapes. There was an abundance of young shoots from every spur and most had bunches, so some thinning was necessary. I took out all the weakest shoots and on one upright rod thinned all the grapes to one bunch per shoot to give me a bigger dessert size bunch, but on another rod I am allowing all the bunches to develop. This will give me smaller grapes, but hopefully a heavier crop which is better for my wine making.
Wee jobs around the garden
Late spring is often a time when we can take advantage of a few dry days to do some spraying. Knowing the rain will not wash the chemicals off is important as most need a few dry days to work. Spray paths with an herbicide containing glyphosate which is absorbed by the leaves which then translocate it to the roots to kill all of the weeds.
Moss on lawns and drives can be controlled with sulphate of iron at a rate of one dessert spoon per two gallon can.
Greenfly on roses, blackcurrants, gooseberries and blackfly on cherries can be killed off with an insecticide designed to tackle greenfly and a host of other pests.