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Mike Allen

Latest posts by Mike Allen

planting mirabilis jalapa tubers

Posted: 28/02/2014 at 21:48

If planting in the garden.  A sheltered sunny site, with a rich soil.

Whether planting tubers in the ground or pots.  From details posted.  It sounds as though just single tubers have been purcased/supplied.  In this case, simply lay the tuber flat.  Usually a well developed tuber will resemble dahlia tubers, where each tuber radiates from a center join that is the stem/stalk.  Plant tubers in April.  If planting inpots, then use a good general purpose compost.  Storing tubers, whether potted or bare tubers.  They should be overwintered in a frost free area....not in a fridge.


Seed sowing.  Sow seeds in JI No.2  February /March.  Young  seedlings and plant often attract loads of aphids, so be warned.


Hope this helps.

However propagating from seed is the cheapest and simple.

Sowing bedding pansies

Posted: 27/02/2014 at 23:23

Seed will usually produce many plants.  Germination is good and simple.

As already pointed out.  Classifying pansies as perennials,is a bit misty.  However, some varieties do lend themselves to qualify so as to come into this classification.  Who knows, in some distant time the powers to be, might re-classify.   Pansies, Violaceacea et are so easy to produce, and at the same time produce such alarming results.  Let's be honest.  Who couldn't fall in love with all tghose funny faces?

Cosmos seedlings

Posted: 27/02/2014 at 23:09

Yes.  A wee bit too soon to sow.  Nevertheless, all is not lost.  Remove the lid or not, is up to you.  From germination to more than half an inch high, causes me to worry.

Cosmos are among the fasted to germinate.  Try and apply the basic principle with seedlings.  'As soon as they are large enough to handle'  To me, that means.  As soon as I can gently get hold of them, or better still.  Soon after they develop their second pair of leaves, prick them out.

Now then.  One might assume that simply moving a seedling fro A-B would have little or no effect.  Sorry, I can't answer that one, but actually.  The pricking out and transplanting does have a great effect.  A simple test you can do.  OK. Take a pot or tray of seedlings.  Now then.   Prick out a few.  Keep them alomgside the basic seedlings.  You will see that the seedlings continue to shoot up, and sadly as so many have learned.  The seedlings soon become so leggy that, even when pricked out, many will wilt and die, others will not really come to anything.  Now look at the pricked out seedling.  For a while, it will appear to have come to a standstill.  Then it picks up.  If you are scientifically minded.  Take a closer look at it's structure.  The stem has thickened.  The leaves are so much more thicker and stronger.  I rest my case.

Pound Shop Lupins

Posted: 27/02/2014 at 22:49

Truly a great and happy bunch of gardeners on here.  Seriously thogh.  Lupins and delphiniums are either a YES or NO to so many.  We usually blame Messrs Slug, Snail &Co.   Would you believe it if I include on the name plate.  Messrs Slug, Snail & Me.  Quite often we the avid grower will kill either by kindness or lack of know -how.  These plant are very susceptible to damping off, and being drowned.   When growing your own from seed.  Refrain from constant watering of pots or trays.  Having sown your seed upon within a moist compost.  That should do until growth appears.  Then gently water around the edge of the container.  This latter action also is useful when potting on shop bought plants.  Please don't sniff at cheapie stores plants.  The hard part has been done for you. You now have to be the carer.  I find it a good idea to sprinkle some small grit or decorative dressing around the base of each plant.  Water outside of this.  Once plated out.  The garden becomes the killing fields of WW1.  The enemy rushes to the attack.   Various measures can be take to ward off the attacks.  Copper bands/rings etc.  The application of grit and similar rough granules around the base.  Have you ever considered the fact that Mr. Slug can actually be inside your plant, prior to planting out.  Not only can this pest be in the compost but, yes.  The little 'B' can actually be inside the plant itself.  Dahlias, Lupins, Delphiniums and many more.  These plants have hollow stems.  So think about it.  Wee baby slug has found a way inside.  For a period of time his presence has no affect on the host plant.  Inturn the fluids etc circulating within the plant doesn't object.  Sadly a false sense of security.  During which time Mr slug has beengetting stronger.  Time to eat ones way out.  That is why so often, especially within the greenhouse.  No slime trail has been noticed.  So.  As Mike has discovered from this forum.  Quite a number of us try and resort to natural ways of protection.   However in this case, don't be afraid of resorting to a systemic treatment.


I do hope that tis helps.

lithops and cactus

Posted: 26/02/2014 at 22:16

If I may.  It is always of extra special interest and sometimes afascination, to grow shall we say.   The less popular plants.  Therefore I have learned that it is a good idea to perhaps read up a bit.   Not only catalogues, but some literature that deals with the countries where these plants grow in the wild.  Hence with cacti etc.  Usually the days are hot and dry, except for the rainy season.  Then come nightfall. The mercury can fall out of the bottom of the scale.

Pruning help

Posted: 25/02/2014 at 21:15

Henry Hi.

Usually no pruning is neded with Arbutus.   Thin straggly branches can be removed.  In this case.  Take them back to good strong branches.

Arbutus is a very attractive species. Normally they will self balance.  However as you say, the garage removal has affected your one.  Sadly.  Once they become wind damaged like yours.  Then you will have to carry out a bit of re-shaping, otherwise they will topple. Normally they are disease and pest free.  A word of warning.  It is best not to allow children to climb them or to rig up swings.  The bark is smooth and cracks easily.  The cracking can go deeper into the wood and then limbs will snap and drop.


Posted: 25/02/2014 at 20:56

No advertising?

So.  I popped into a high street store.  You know.  One of those shops where you hands over a pound, and gets a penny change!!!

Being a new boy on the block.  How far are we allowed to go, in respect of a bit of name or product dropping.

An honest question.  No offence intended.

Rose and clematis combination

Posted: 25/02/2014 at 20:40

Sometimes there is an overlap.  Much depends on the amount of sun.  Just like people.  Plants can be unpredictable at times.

Dahlia Tuber

Posted: 25/02/2014 at 20:28

Tubers can in fact be left in the ground, or in pots and tubs.  Just cover over the area with hay/straw or the like.

Cost Conscience

Posted: 25/02/2014 at 00:22

I was at Wisley Garden the other day, with the intention of seeing the butterflies in the glasshouse.  The queues were so long, we gave it a miss.  Outside of the glasshouse the air was filled with such an intoxicating fragrance.. The provider of the fragrance. Sarcocca confusa. Sweet Box.  At the gift shop on the way out.  There were many 2Lt. pots of this shrub.  Cost. 12.99 each.  I wanted half a dozen.  Two each for myself and my two daughters.  However we returned home without the plants.  Contacting Wisley I was told that no delivery, outside the local area was available.  No discount etc.  Checking on-line.  Plants Wholesale do the same item. 5.99


Today also.  I picked up four x 100 Ltr. Bales of.  JA Bowers general purpose compost.  This is usually sold at Makro's for 6.99 plus VAT  They are knocking it out at two bales for six quid plus VAT.  I wanted twenty bales, how about delivery?  Sorry we don't deliver.  However there is a local man with van, who could deliver for thirty pounds.   No thank you!

A word in favour of JAB compost.  I have tried several popular brands.  B&Q I found it was like floor sweepings, plus it is dangerous from the fact that I found, at times, painfully.  Steel brush bristles or whatever.  JAB.  I use a lot.  It's time many of my container plants had a change of compost.  It is really a good compact product.  To be on the safe side for plants that prefer a bit of chalk, then it's no problem to add the odd handful to the mix.  For the shall we say larger plants.  I will use a bag of farmyard manure mix it up well, and pot up.  On it's own.  The consistancy of it is suitable for mulching with and bulking up the garden in general.  Spent/exchanged soil fom pots/containers go onto the garden.

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