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Time to plant bulbs and propogate half-hardy seedlings

By Spalding Today Columnist

What an amazing few weeks of un-seasonally warm weather we have just enjoyed.

As lovely as the weather was, please don’t be fooled into thinking that spring has sprung. That said, this month work in the garden begins to ramp up and by the end of March beginning of April, weather permitting, your garden will be ready to burst back into life.

This week, I am going to tackle planting my summer flowering bulbs out in the garden and then sowing my half-hardy annuals in my new heated propagator.

I’ve chosen to plant my gladioli, ranunculus and lily bulbs this week because they are quite hardy. Dahlia and begonia bulbs really need potting on and planting outside when any risk of frost has gone. I prefer my summer flowers to not look too regimented, so what I tend to do is throw the bulbs into the air and wherever they fall is where they'll be planted. I have a £4.99 bulb planter, which I use to remove a plug of soil into which I plant the individual bulb. You’ll find them in our tool department at Baytree.

Just a word of warning though, scatter and plant each pack of bulbs one at a time, as different flower bulbs require different planting depths. So if you were to scatter them all at once you’d be hard pressed to identify each bulb and how deep to plant it.

The great thing about Taylors bulbs is each variety has detailed instructions on the back of the packet pertaining to planting depth and care.

Hopefully you won’t have worked up too much of a sweat planting your summer bulbs, though there is nothing wrong with a little sit down and cup of tea following your successful completion of the first task this week.

Kick off your wellies if you haven’t already and dig out your heated propagator. Heated propagators are essentially small greenhouses in which the temperature is regulated to encourage seeds to germinate and form good root structures.


These types of propagators are not that expensive, with prices starting from around £25. I am going to sow some marigolds but you could choose to sow ageratum, impatiens, cosmea, petunia, lobelias or any other variety of half-hardy annual.

To start with, fill the tray in your propagator with good quality potting compost, then sow the seeds directly onto the top of the compost following the instructions on the seed packet. Cover the seeds with a light layer of vermiculite, this helps to keep the moisture in the compost. Place the lid back on your propagator and turn on the power. All being well, your seeds should germinate within a week.

Keep watering the seedling post germination and when you can see two sets of true leaves on the seedlings they can then be transplanted carefully to a bigger pot and left to carry on growing in a sunny spot indoors - a warm windowsill is great for this.

With both tasks done, surely it’s got to be time for another cup of tea and a slice of angel cake!


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