I am in England at the moment tending to our English garden, but due to the wonders of technology I can regale you with my activities in Spain. Because I have been so busy with the garden and other things I just haven’t had time to post any material on this site. I know you will be disappointed and thousands of you are currently standing in your gardens holding your trowel with vacant looks on your faces and waiting for my next instruction, but fear not here we go.
1st November: Things I have been doing lately
😀 Planting bulbs. This is the time for planting bulbs in Spain. A lot of the heat will have gone from the soil and there will be a bit of rain around to help them on their way. I have decided to plant some flag irises that I saved from this year, and to place them in a bald corner of my lawn. The most natural way to plant bulbs is to scatter them and let them fall where they will. The temptation is to start to rearrange them because you don’t like where they have fallen, but this is a mistake and the plants when they grow will look too “staged”.
I did think I would make things easier for myself by using a bulb planter. But save your money, they just bend, especially if you are planting on hardish soil or in my case lawn. Just use your trowel, you don’t need to dig a hole, force your trowel into the soil then push hard one way to open up a gap in the soil and pop yourbulb in at the appropriate depth.
The photos below show my trug of bulbs that I cleaned and stored from last year, the bare corner of the lawn, and my scattered bulbs ready to be planted – but not by the useless bulb planter. Just click on each photo for a larger image.
🌿 Replanting seedlings. As we go into Autumn all of the plants in your border will have set seedlings by now. If you haven’t already taken cuttings or seeds, then this is your last chance to get plants for free. My favourite for this is Margeurites. This daisy which is ubiquitous in Spain has a long flowering season and loves full sun. Not only that you can cut them back after flowering and off they go again.
Now the problem with self set seedlings is that they are clustered around where the mother plant was, and not necessarily where you want them. This means you have to transplant them to where you wish them to be. To be successful in this endeavour there are a few rules:
– Prepare the soil where you intend to plant the seedlings by weeding, feeding and watering.
– Only transplant seedlings either early in the morning, late afternoon or on overcast days. Never attempt to do this in full sun as they will wither before their little roots start working.
– Wait till the seedlings are 7-10cm high before attempting to transplant. If they are too small there rootsystem will not be well enough developed.
The first photo below shows the seedlings where their mummy left them, and where I don’t want them. The second photo shows them transplanted where they will be happy. The canes crossed over the seedlings are to stop rampaging Labradors.
🕷 The answer to the Spiderwort Question. Keen followers of this blog will know that a while ago I engaged in cutting edge scientific experimentation, the results of which are being eagerly awaited by the scientific and gardening communities. The aim of the experiment was to decide what was the best process for propagating Trascedentia (Spiderwort). Was it by taking cuttings and planting them in pots? Was it by planting directly into the soil? Or was it by placing cuttings in a glass of water.
Well, (drum roll) the wait is over. My findings are as follows:
– the cuttings in pots grew the fastest and put on more leaf, but they were planted in compost.
– the cuttings in the soil all survived and are slowly growing.
– the cuttings in a glass of water quickly grew a profusion of spidery fine roots and where easily replanted in pots with just a quick dibber to make a hole.
In effect each method was successful. But my recommendation would be the method to be used should depend on where you intend to place the final plants. If you intend to plant in the soil and your soil is prepared then plant straight out directly. Again if you intend to plant directly in the soil, but you want to make sure of success, then plant first in pots before replanting in the soil. If however you just want to add some bulk to plants that are already in a pot, but which are getting a bit sparse, then you can’t beat the glass of water, it is quick and relatively easy. Make sure you use rainwater and change every week if possible.
I am exhausted after all that experimentation and my white coat needs laundering. My next experiment was going to be the “chicken and the egg”, but my wife won’t let me have a chicken.
The pictures below show the final outcomes of the experiment. Just click on each one for a larger image.
3 thoughts on “Bulbs, seedlings and the answer to the Spiderwort Question”
Spiderwort can just be plugged wherever new plants are wanted. i did not think of putting them in water first, or even potting them. They can get quite weedy. Yours are a nice variety.
Hi Tony, I enjoyed reading your blog, it is always nice to hear from another gardener. It seems you and I have a similar climate. As you are a tree man can I ask you a quick question. I have a large Mimosa tree that I would like to radically prune it is probably about 20ft high. I would like to cut it back by polarding the branches. Will it survive? And will it grow back properly?
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Ooh, that is an awkward question. First of all, I am not one of those arborists who is totally against pollarding. I actually like it for the right trees, and even some of the wrong trees. (I do it to a blue gum eucalyptus because I want the aromatic juvenile foliage.) So now that we have that out of the way, I will say that a mimosa IS adaptable to pollarding if it is the Albizia julibrissin. (‘Mimosa’ is a common name for several specie.) If your tree is an acacia, I would not recommend pollarding. Since your tree is only twenty feet high, it is still young, so there should not be any cuts that are too terribly wide, although they will be quite wide. Once bare in winter, you can cut the tree back to where you want the knuckles to develop. Yes, the cuts will be wide, and will probably not compartmentalize in the first or second year, but every year that you cut back to the same knuckles, the more compartmentalized the cuts will be. In other words, the knuckles develop into the tough burls that you want. The tree might look funny the first year, but will probably look better the second year. During the first year, you might want to pluck off some of the adventitious shoots that develop below the knuckles, just to give the tree the idea that it should produce growth only on the knuckles. Each year, there should be less adventitious growth. If possible, you might want to delay pruning to late winter, just in case the inner bark is sensitive to sun scald. Sometimes, the move vigorous trees have more sensitive bark. Just be certain to get it finished before buds start to swell, and the tree starts to come out of dormancy at the end of winter.
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