Grow something different

Posted: Monday 2 April 2012
by Adam Pasco

The joys of gardening include trying new plants and exploring novel growing techniques. Fortunately this year I've plenty of new projects to keep me busy.

Achimenes tubers on compost

The joys of gardening include trying new plants and exploring novel growing techniques. Fortunately this year I've plenty of new projects to keep me busy.

It's been several years since I first grew hot water plants – unusual little gesneriads called Achimenes that can be grown as houseplants. But I spotted a nice collection of rhizomes in a spring bulb catalogue, and thought I'd have another go. I’ve planted the rhizomes, which are very small, and rather like scaly seeds, five per pot, and placed them in a heated propagator to grow. They should develop into pretty little flowering pot plants by mid-summer.

Another houseplant that intrigues me is Caladium. I can't recall ever seeing the bulbs for sale before, but these fancy foliage plants with their colourful and luscious leaves ended up on my bulb order. Asking around the Gardeners' World Magazine team I couldn’t find anyone who had grown them before, so I feel like I'm entering new territory here. Has anyone else grown them?

Like all exotics I know they'll need a high temperature to get them going, so I’ve planted the bulbs individually in 12cm pots, and set the propagator thermostat to 20˚C. In their natural environment I think caladiums would grow beneath a tree canopy, so I’ll provide shade from scorching sun once their leaves emerge.

Other planting projects I've got on the go include several trailing basket begonias, some new fuchsia varieties, lots of dwarf dahlias that I plan to grow in patio pots, plus a hardy range of outdoor gerberas called Garvinea.

When Monty Don planted some new roses on Gardeners' World in March, he demonstrated how to apply mycorrhizal fungi to their bare roots to improve growth and performance. Now a new mycorrhizal product is available to boost growth of peas and beans. Does it work? Well, the only way to tell is to put it to the test, so along with a trial of new mangetout and sugar snap pea varieties, I'll be growing some with and some without this new mycorrhizal treatment.

I'm looking forward to a glut of peas, provided I can keep up with the watering. With a hosepipe ban starting in my water region this week, I forecast a challenging year ahead. If only I could forecast rainfall instead!

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Susie Fox 02/04/2012 at 20:18

i only have a very small garden and an even smaller veg patch,which is in fact our front garden that my husband has built raised beds in for me. have managed quite well so far but every year i try and grow something different and new(to me). this year its celeriac. the seeds are growing nicely on my windowsill and each morning i rush down to see how everythings doing and to try and talk them all into growing into big strong plants!!! any tips on celeriac growing will be appreciated!!

happymarion 03/04/2012 at 16:11

I've bought three yellow pelargomium plants, Adam. The leaves are lime green and no markings on although they are zonal pelargoniums but I shall be watching with interest to see if they can earn a place in my yellow Olympic Ring.

happymarion 03/04/2012 at 16:14

I have grown celeriac, Susie Fox, and they need lots of rich compost or manure. They are gross feeders. But well worth the effort as it is a delicious vegetable.

Susie Fox 03/04/2012 at 20:50

thanks for that happymarion. are they a bit like courgettes in that they like compost to grow on? like the sound of yellow pelargoniums. can i ask where you got them from or if you tell me will you have to kill me!!

happymarion 04/04/2012 at 09:15

I would grow your celeriac in a bed of the richest compost you have - JI no3 with equal oart of horse manure was my recipe for large ones like big nobbly swedes. The yellow pelargoniums came from Spalding Plant and Bulb co though they got them from Bakker in Holland. I am sure the BBC do not mind us passing on such information as they do so themselves when it is something out of the ordinary. We'll see.

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