I've been pricking out and transplanting seedlings sown last month. Sweet Williams have taken ages to come up but I am moving them on now into trays together with canatache, sweet rocket and achillea.
I sow to the biodynamic calendar. I enjoy the little window that arrives to sow and prick out giving a lovely rhythm for me. Otherwise, as I have lamented often, one week slips into another, seeds are not sown whilst I do 'more pressing jobs'.
So with this rhythm, on a ‘flower day’ I try to always sow something and move on germinated seedlings. The task stays manageable since I am only sowing a little each time, seedlings don’t labour in their pots but are moved on quickly to grow out into the next pot or ground.
It really helps, as with eveything really, to have a dedicated space to sow seeds. Having compost, vermiculite, labels and trays easily to hand. Then you can grab the packet, sow, water and set aside. Trays do need checking daily to make sure they don’t dry out.
You don't need a green house or polytunnel. If you have a smaller space, needing only a few plants to nestle into borders or pots, you can use a plastic box as a 'green house'. I am reliably told it works well but I have never tried it myself, so this winter I am trialling this and comparing with those sown in the tunnel at the same time. I will report back.
This week I am also planting out perennials. With the hot summer, I have tended to these less than annuals or had more success so I am dividing plants and planting into 'Bed 2' of the Walled Garden - originally one of the rotating annual borders, now another ‘perennial’ border. I suspect over the next few years I will grow fewer and fewer annuals reducing the resources needed to grow them.
I have found the most successful annuals this year to be those that either self sowed into position or planted with other varieties close by. Those that self sowed, I left in places and they are now huge. Rudbeckias grown with nicotiana and cosmos are bigger than those in dedicated beds on their own. They are supporting each other and simply more vibrant in every way. A larger scale operation, needing to cut 100’s of stems will find this much more labour intensive for cutting, but I found that these plants have needed little to no tending so perhaps it works out as a worthwhile exchange of labour and clear improvement in soil and plant health.
This is the best time of year for seed heads. Where other times, the plants look messy around fresh growth and flowers - for instance browning poppies in amongst calendula and cosmos look unattractive, but now, the knobbly crocosmia in amongst fresh ecinops, naked rudbeckia buds above the chrysanthemums and asters just look joyful and appropriate the late summer season. I adore the jumble of plants right now and revel in the chaos of the borders. I let the plants jostle and play now until the frosts, just pinching off flowers as they go over to encourage the next one.
Jobs for the Weekend
1. Prick out and transplant seedlings sown last month, into trays to grow on some more.
2. Plant out biennials and perennials into beds and borders.
3. Dead head and pinch off spent flowers on plants that are still producing well. Where they are going over and flowering slowed, leave some to go to seed. Save some and leave some for the wildlife and winter silhouette.
Eiderdowns of sorbet coloured Dahlias
Saved poppy stems in the newly cleared polytunnel looking out onto a riot of annuals. The view is completely flipped from midwinter when the polytunnel is full, protecting my tender chrysanthemums, salvias and annuals whilst the beds rest.
I snipped off these late flowering chrysanthemums shoots in June. The plants are now nice and bushy, and these should go on to flower next year.
Seedlings pricked out to grow on.
Saving Sweet Pea Seeds
Fantastic Sunflowers this year.