ONe thing you should be gearing up for is to make your seedlings get away to a good start. In our propagation area we’re fortunate to have underbench hot water heating and an air heater that keeps the temperature at around 6-7 degrees – enough to keep our citrus plants in good heart.
The best time to do this is when the Rhubarb is dormant – in December to the end of February. We’ve left it a bit late this year because we’re in the process of developing the woodland garden here at the Glasshouses and in the pressure of work to get the ground cleared, hedge defined, potato plot organised etc, the Rhubarb got left until last weekend. However Finger’s crossed.
Now the leaves are off the trees, it’s time to take hardwood cuttings
It’s an easy and reliable method for propagating deciduous trees, shrubs and climbers. The “season” lasts from now until late winter.
You cut below a bud horizontally. For best results cut with scissors or secateurs first to seal the cut and again with a really sharp knife just before you pot it. This cut is square. At the top end you either include the apical leaves and between 2 and 4 nodes depending on the plant or you make a sloping cut above a bud. You keep the cuttings moist until its time to pot them. Then you seal the bottom with Root!t Gel which contains auxins and then keep them moist and sheltered over the winter.
According to the Gardener’s world team this is a good time to be making hardwood cuttings. In general you’re better off working with the tides of nature – soft fruit and soft cuttings are often best done in the spring when the plants are really into growth. However some plants go well at this time of year.
Life is much easier because we have our own potting bench. We grow the plants in the small modules that you can see top right and here we’re potting them out into 12 cm pots. We’re using Soil Association approved potting media which contains a fair amount of recycled peat and is very easy to handle. And so I put some of this in the bottom, sprinkle a pinch of Mycorrhiza on the bottom to promote rooting and help the plant access Phosphate, pop the plant block on top and then fill round the edges of the pot with the compost which I firm up by pushing down with the fingers.
Since we’re likely to be planting out hardy things from mid march, we might start to think about getting seeds going in propagators and in the glasshouse. We already have a lot of stuff going in our propagation area as the photo graph shows but we’re going to be planting out under glass. In fact we’ve been busily clearing the ground in the glasshouse for this year’s planting.
One of the problems with saving seed is that plants don’t always breed true. So you might be better off cloning some of the ones you’ve already got and saving yourself a fortune in new plants.