Wednesday, 23 May 2007


We have planted most of our vegetables seeds in the garden now. I have a different method of working to the rest of the family when it comes to putting the seed in the ground. Firstly I like to sow the seed in straight rows, that way you can see where the weeds are growing, the family sow in the broadcast method which means getting a handful of seed and throwing them around! Secondly I also like to label the rows. This is something that I think is vital as you invariably forget where and what you have sown as soon as you come indoors and start to put the tea on. Keeping the label for the shrubs and perennials from the garden centres is also a good idea as you can refer to them for instructions on the plants care. As I am on the subject of garden centres I thought I would look at some tips to get the best out of them when you are choosing a plant.


Labels are important but often brief on the details of the plant. It does give you the name though so you can look up the care instructions in more detail. Avoid plants with labels that are old and faded, the plant probably is too.

Pests and disease
If the leaves of the plant are yellowing or there is limp growth then the plant might be diseased. Avoid these and also steer clear of plants with leaves that have been severely nibbled. The pots probably have vine weavel in them.

Value for money
Shop around; garden centres differ greatly in price for the same plants. I must stress that the quality of plants from most garden centres is really good. Occasionally one or two neglected ones slip through the net. I am not saying this is right but when a friend of mine sees a plant that is of poor quality and obviously too dishevelled to sell at full price, they take it off the shelves and remove the label. That’ll show ‘em! All centres should offer a guarantee for shrubs and perennials as long as you have looked after them as stated. They have to have faith in their product after all.

Water loss
Never buy a plant that has been denied water. The plants will be stressed and look sickly. They will take longer to establish, if at all!

Plant shape
Avoid plants that are growing irregularly with spindly growth, this indicates that they have been growing in cramped dark conditions.

Weedy pots
Pots full of weeds are also a sign of neglect. The weeds will starve the plant of vital nutrients and suffer as a consequence.

Check to roots
Tip the pot upside down tap the sides then gently remove the plant. Check to see that there are plenty of visible fibrous roots as well as some plump and juicy ones. There are two types of root problem that must be avoided. Do not pick plants that have thick and fibrous roots sticking out of the bottom of the pot into the soil on the display bed, or roots that are circling around the inside of the pot. Both are signs of a pot bound plant, which has been on display a while and probably been denied water at some stage. Pot bound plants will be difficult to establish.

When you have chosen a healthy specimen and brought it home, try to plant it as soon as possible. If you can’t do this at once then keep it well watered and in a sheltered position to prevent it from falling over and being damaged. When you do plant it, make sure it is well watered when you put it in the ground and keep an eye on it for a week or two.


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