Scorched roots, compost donuts and a warning from Cruella

The above heading could be about a really bad hairdresser and a disgusting snack. But no, the world of gardening throws up all sorts of funny things especially after the great seed disaster of 2020. I know I’ve mentioned it once or twice, but did I tell you I lost all my seeds this year. Anyway, the fact of the matter is that having lost all my seeds I have had to rely on cuttings and bought plants to stock my borders. This has brought a number of problems which I insist on sharing with you.

14th July. Things I have been doing lately:

🙀 Trying to save bought plants. If you buy plants from garden centres etc at this time of year and then plant them in full Sun, then you are mainly wasting your time and money. The Sun will scorch the roots before the plants can get established and all you will have left is a few crispy leaves. The photo below shows a poor Lobelia who despite my best efforts did not survive its scorching.

Poor little Lobelia

The problem is this. You buy a new plant you plant it in a pre-watered hole and then you water at night. However, the roots don’t have time to get down into the soil and as the water is close to the surface the roots turn upwards. The Sun comes out the next day and scorches the roots. You see the plant is in distress and you water again and the same thing happens. The only thing that will stop this cycle and give your new plant a chance is to create a compost donut.

A compost donut is a ring of thick mulch compost that you apply all around the plant just after watering. Lift all the foliage up and pack the compost around the stem and to a distance of about 6 inches. This will act as a barrier to the Sun and give your new plants a fighting chance. You will probably have to renew the donut every week as the Blackbirds will take delight in tossing it everywhere in their pursuit of insects. The photos below show operation donut in action. Click on each image for a larger view.

🌂 Shading cuttings. I normally take lots of cuttings in late Spring and then plant them out in early Autumn when they have decent root growth. But because I am trying to fill beds I have been forced to try and bring the cuttings on faster. This again was another mistake. Because of the fierce Sun, cuttings like the new plants (discussed above), do not have sufficient roots to withstand the heat. Because of this, and at great expense, I have developed a patented Cuttings Shade that is suitable for all potting benches. The photo below shows my prototype; extra bricks are available as plants grow, I call it my extension kit. I am hoping that Amazon will stock it.

The basic model.
The basic model enhanced by an extension kit.

🌼 Dealing with Sunflowers. One of the serendipitous outcomes of the great seed disaster of 2020 was that I planted some Sunflower seeds. I found an old packet of seeds that I had more or less ignored because, I had other things to grow, and they were all I had left. Well they didn’t disappoint they were lovely as you can see from the photo below.

Sunflowers just make you smile.

After an excellent show of flowers I am now in the process of preparing the seed for next year. There are various methods of doing this, you can leave the head on and let it dry then harvest the seed. Or, you can do, as I am trying by letting the head partly dry then cutting it off and letting the whole thing dry off the stem. If you want to follow my approach then there are three basic stages.

  • Wait till the outer petals are very dry and brown.
  • Cut off the head with about 4inches of stem.
  • Hang the head upside down to complete drying

At the end of this process you supposedly will have your seeds. I will keep you informed. The photos below show the three stages. Click on each image for a larger view.

🧟‍♀️ Cruella sends a warning. I was just on the phone to Cruella (my wife) informing her that I did not think it was appropriate for me to continue to include her in this blog. I was explaining that I wanted to keep it simply about gardening and I was worried about her advocacy of Witchcraft. I had no sooner uttered the words when a glass dish sitting on our kitchen island flew across the room and smashed on the floor. Our two maurading Labradors hearing the smash charged into the kitchen expecting to find food on the floor. Both dogs proceeded to skid around on the glass and yelping as they cut their paws. I rushed forward forgetting I had no shoes on and unfortunately joined them in this manic dance where we were all trying to get our feet off the ground, but only making matters worse. From the abandoned phone I could hear Cruella chanting Red Rum, Red Rum over and over again.

It was only after cleaning up the blood and the gore did I see a message cracked into one of our floor tiles (see photo below). Needlesss to say I have seen Jack Nicholson films, and Cruella will definitely be featuring in future posts

Just hold this picture up to the mirror. Be afraid…be very afraid.

Author: spanishgarden

I live in both Spain and the UK and am a very keen gardener. I garden every day and enjoy sharing all the secrets that God allows us to discover in our gardens.

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