Classroom Activities (Spring 9)
This is a really busy time of year. The light levels will have increased, and with any luck, so will the temperatures. Seeds will usually germinate quickly now, and plants will put on plenty of growth. You’ve got a few weeks before Easter, so…..get growing!
- To sow seeds of summer-cropping vegetables.
- To sow a range of herb seeds, for use in container planting.
- To sow some flower seeds, for use in container planting.
- To take cuttings to grow on for sale.
- To start preparing for Easter sale of herbs, planted containers of various sizes, and summer-cropping vegetable plants.
- All seed-sowing requirements as usual.
- Seeds of a range of herbs, flowers, and summer-cropping vegetables.
- Containers for planting up (see Tips for success for ideas)
- Sharp scissors and secateurs for taking cuttings.
- Tough gloves for use when taking cuttings.
- Cuttings material (see Tips for success for details)
- Pots (7cm) for cuttings.
- Potting compost/grit mix for cuttings (see Tips for Success – Pricking out for proportions). It is not necessary to add grit to compost for cuttings.
- Labelling material for summer-cropping vegetables, herbs and containers.
- Seed-sowing, using usual methods.
- Source containers ready for sowing and planting.
- Fill pots of potting compost (grit to be added if using) ready for cuttings.
- Water, then allow to drain.
- Take cuttings of rosemary, sage, thyme (see Tips for success for method).
- Pot up cuttings.
- Create labels for new plants.
- Care for seedlings and potted-on plants as normal.
- Ensure plenty of room-temperature water is available. Plants will be growing faster, and have more top growth. That makes them thirstier.
Seeds Inside Sowing
|Tomatoes – there is such a huge range to choose from now. The Organic Gardening Catalogue sells varieties of every colour, shape and size. But even ordinary garden centres carry a wide range. Everyone grows Moneymaker, Ailsa Craig and Shirley – why not choose a variety that’s a bit different? Try a yellow skinned one, or maybe something pear or plum-shaped.Tomatoes need to be grown in warmth, just like lobelia, then pricked out and potted on twice. People expect to buy plants at least 20cm high, in 15cm pots. You can start to sell towards the end of April, but make sure that you allocate carers during the Easter holidays. Tomatoes must not dry out. Labels should give full details of the variety’s characteristics.|
|Peppers (Capsicum) – once again, an interesting range can be found in the Organic Gardening Catalogue. Garden centres tend not to carry quite so many. Another warm-loving plant, just like tomatoes, peppers need the same method of sowing and care, and they are usually ready to be sold at the same time.|
|Herbs – basil, chives, chervil, coriander, marjoram, winter and summer savoury, dill and fennel are all popular, and all very easy to grow from seed. Fennel and chives are perennial plants, all the others are annuals. Basil is tender, so needs more warmth than the others for germination.Apart from basil, the seeds don’t need warmth for germination, and you should see results quickly at this time of year. Follow packet instructions for sowing-depth. Sow seeds thinly in 10cm pots, or use 500g yoghurt pots (remember drainage holes in the base). Remember to sow enough for your own container planting, as well as for your late spring/early summer sale.|
|Parsley– you can’t go wrong with parsley. Start seeds off inside but no need for heat. Sow plenty, you want some to sell in pots, ready to plant out, some to plant out into the school garden to grow to maturity then sell, freshly-cut, in bags, and some to plant out into your mixed flower/herb containers. One plant – three selling opportunities.Parsley can be slow to germinate. Try this. Fill the pot with potting compost as usual, but leave a good 2cm gap at the top. Tap down compost as usual, sow the seeds thinly on top, then pour boiling water over them. Now cover with the correct depth of potting compost. Sounds brutal, but it often gets things going.|
|Flowers – containers planted with a mixture of herbs and some annual flowers, or a wildflower mix, will enhance any garden corner. Choose hardy annual flowers. As well as being attractive, most of these are good food plants for bees and butterflies. Some possible hardy annuals: Candytuft, Convolvulus, Cornflower, Eschscholtzia, Poached-egg plant (Limnanthes), Flax (Linum), Love-in-a-mist (Nigella). You could also choose a wildflower mix, such as one specific for butterflies or bumble bees.Sow a few seeds directly into potting compost in the container, following instructions on the packet about sowing depth. Leave space to plant a couple of your herb plants.|