Every now and again I do manage to follow my own advice and get things done at the right time of year. Last autumn I took cuttings from my increasingly leggy scented pelargoniums and overwintered them in the greenhouse. Nearly all of them have rooted, so I have potted them on into their own pots so that they can get established before I need the space for seedlings. I’ve also cut their leggy parents right back, given them a soak and a liquid feed to encourage new growth – one way or another the garden will be very fragrant this summer.
Having the heated propagator in the greenhouse has made all the difference to my seed sowing. No more lanky seedlings grown on the kitchen windowsill. As soon as they have germinated, they come out of the propagator and onto the bench. After a few days there, they are moved into the coldframe where they will stay until they are ready to be pricked out into individual cells or planted out.
With the right conditions, tomatoes do love to grow and if you haven’t got going yet it’s not too late. The warmer weather and good light means that you won’t have to cosset them like earlier sown seeds. Mine started in a propagator, then went under a growlight and then onto the greenhouse bench until finally being planted in their final positions in growbags topped with GrowPots. The first flower trusses are now forming and once they open I will start to feed the plants.
I know I do bang on about it, but autumn sowing of hardy annuals in a greenhouse or coldframe really does make all the difference. At a time when the light levels are low and leaf growth slows right down, the young plants are able to put most of their energy into growing a substantial root system which will get them off to a flying start when they are planted out in the spring.
It’s a new one to me – I was in the greenhouse watering the tomatoes when I noticed that the leaves were being eaten and there were caterpillar droppings scattered about. I came indoors and did a quick web search and established it is the Tomato Moth caterpillar. The suggested solution was to give each plant a firm shake – and sure enough caterpillars were soon falling off the plants (as well as the occasional unripe tomato) onto the soil. I gathered up approximately 20 and will repeat this action daily. The caterpillars can be green, but are generally brown like the one I photographed. They can defoliate the plants and munch their way into the tomatoes so are a pest not to be ignored. They are probably one of the few downsides to the glorious weather – rather like butterflies the moths are having a bumper year.