Suttons Seeds have redesigned the chive – well not really – but they do have a new variety called the Cha Cha Chive that carries top knots of wiry green leaves instead of the usual papery pink flowers. It will look great in the herb bed or containers, makes an eye catching and flavourful ingredient and could even be used in posies. £11.99 for 3 plants in 9cm pots.
With the welcome arrival of spring, it’s not just the beds and borders that are bursting with life – ponds and water features where nothing much seems to have happened for the past few months – are showing signs of returning plant and animal activity. Before everything grows to the point where interference would be harmful, it is a good time to do some watery housework. If leaves and debris are lurking, lift them out of the water as gently as possible (to avoid the primordial soup effect) and leave them near the pond margins to drain and also allow time for any creatures to make their way back to the pond. Tidy up marginal plants and, if they are overcrowded, now is a good time to divide them and replant the fresh young growth from the edge of the plant. Similarly, if waterlilies are taking over, they can be divided and repotted once they show signs of new growth, but be sure to use an aquatic compost to avoid making the water too nitrogen rich. Check pond pumps to make sure they still work after a winter’s rest, make sure the electrics all appear sound (water and dodgy electrical connections do not mix). If you need to upgrade your equipment, need advice, or are thinking of installing a pond, visit Swell UK (they’re experts on all matters pond-related.) And don’t forget to clean the filters before starting the pump working.
Happy St David’s Day
Elka is my new favourite miniature narcissus. With a lovely subtle colour and delicate flowers, it is perfect for pots and I’m sure that it will also naturalise harmoniously amongst the other early spring bulbs where bright yellow can sometimes be too strident.
The current issue of Gardening Which has a report on a selection of seed composts. It is noticeable that all their recommended buys contain a minimum of 55% peat and in one instance is pure peat. We all know that peat is a perfect growing medium, but we also know that (whatever the compost companies may say) peat is a finite resource that is being extracted from unique habitats and in the process is releasing carbon that has been locked into the soil for thousands of years. Which also listed their ‘Don’t Buys’ which included Carbon Gold’s GroChar Seed Compost which I trialled in its early days and have been using successfully for some time now. It is 100% peat free and – like other peat free formulations – it is essential that you follow the instructions to ensure good results. It is particularly important that you water a lot less than is normal with peat composts. The accompanying photo shows my current crop of GroChar grown seedlings – they look pretty good to me.
I’ve ordered some of Royal Mails new Spring Bloom stamps to put on birthday cards and other cheery missives. Now that most communicating is done by text and email I like my rare personal postings (of the old-fashioned type) to look as pretty as possible. The stamps are available from ‘Post & Go’ terminals in some post offices and online from www.royalmail.com/postandgo