Monday, 2 April 2018

in the greenhouse

It was another Bank Holiday washout.  We hadn't been planning to go anywhere, but I felt sorry for the people who'd been trying to organize events.  The local papers were a litany of cancelled lower league football matches and abandoned country fairs.  I took refuge in the greenhouse, where at least it was dry apart from the drips.  We need a nice day to scrape the moss out of the glazing bars and try and wedge the sheets of glass and replacement plastic back in place.

Something nibbled my pot of Salvia jurisicii seedlings.  I thought at first it was a mouse, as something detached a small tuft of leaves from one of the Pulsatilla I bought from Crocus and stood in the greenhouse pending planting.  I set a mousetrap, but it has not triggered and the peanut is still in place.  Then I blamed snails, and put down a couple of blue pellets, but they don't seem to have been touched either.  The seedlings were still alive, albeit minus a few leaves, and yielded me a tray and a half of seven centimetre pots when I pricked them out individually.  S. jurisicii comes originally from Macedonia, and promises to have eye-catching, grey-green, pinnate foliage (according to Chiltern Seeds).  Though I am sure, having handled the seedlings only a few hours ago, that their first true leaves were entire and not pinnate, but maybe that comes later.  They are still very small.

The pot of Luzula nivea produced nearly two four-by-eight modular tray's worth of plants, by the time I'd pricked them out individually.  This is the snowy woodrush, a delicate rush with fluffy white flowers in summer.  It is happy in light shade, and while it would prefer it dampish the soil around the wildlife pond is not too mere, and L. nivea is said to be adaptable.  I have visions of it fringing the margins of the pond in a delightful fashion.

Not looking so good was the pot of Persian violets, where I'm sure I saw a couple of tiny, tiny seedlings the last time I checked, while today there was nothing.  Too wet, too cold?  They were absolutely minute seeds and I was afraid they weren't going to be easy.  Also I found I'd allowed some of the pots of tomato seedlings to wilt badly.

Last autumn's cuttings of trailing Verbena almost all struck.  I split them apart into individual plants and potted them.  Some insect has been attacking their leaves which are mottled and marked, only I don't know what.  I sprayed them with SB Plant Invigorator pending a better theory.  The roots of trailing Verbena are thin and extensive and I caused a lot of damage getting the cuttings apart.  Obviously I should have done it sooner, but it has felt too cold to be disturbing cuttings.  Now I know how high the strike rate is I might start future cuttings in individual small pots, then I wouldn't have to disturb the roots.

The Sarcococca confusa cuttings that were given bottom heat from the beginning have made very good sturdy roots, and started throwing new shoots from below ground.  The roots are thick, white, unbranching, and strong, and the contents of each pot came apart with no teasing or tugging at all.  I potted them individually.  If you wanted a Sarcococca hedge it would be quite feasible to raise your own plants.  Obviously you would have to plan a couple of years in advance, but it would not be difficult.

Some of the overwintered Plectranthus argenteus cuttings were unambiguously alive, although not happy, others were iffy, and one was quite definitely dead.  A frost free greenhouse is really too cold for them.  All the pots were stood close together on the bench, and it's curious how some fared so much better than others.  Did it come down to some localised draught, or was I more or less heavy handed with the watering can?  P. argenteus is a useful summer bedding plant, having big furry grey leaves, and rather unexpectedly being happy in partial shade.  It is vigorous when it gets going, and I daresay the sad looking cuttings will perk up once the weather warms up.

In the meantime overcast days are actually rather good for pricking out and dividing pots of cuttings, as things have time to recover from the root disturbance while it isn't too warm.

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