Monday, October 12, 2009

Seed Tip

I grow a lot of things from seed, and not just from shop-bought seed.
When I store unused seed, I store it in the vegetable box at the bottom of the fridge where it will keep forever it seems. Also, a lot of fresh seed prefer a period of 'coldness' before planting, imitating winter, after which I have learned that they grow much quicker than they would normally and the germination rate is higher.
So, don't throw out that unused seed, store it!

Zingiber officinale

Ginger is also very easy to grow from shop bought produce. Simply plant a piece of it in compost in a large pot in a sheltered and shaded part of the garden, and in a few weeks you should be rewarded with the green tip of a new shoot coming up.

This area is subtropical and ginger is commercially grown in tropical areas which are not only hot and sunny, but wet.

Ginger needs a lot of water especially during its growing period.

Plant a shop bought rhizome with 'eyes' in early spring, and when the foliage dies down in autumn, dig the plant up and you have fresh ginger to dry and use during the following year.

Punica granatum

Pomegranates grow in the wild locally, though I believe the fruit is pretty sour. They are easy to grow from seed which is obtainable through the fruit, simply rinse or suck off the juice surrounding the seed, dry for a few days, and plant in a pot filled with compost to the depth of the seed. Germination takes from a few days to a few weeks, just be patient and keep the soil moist (I find it easier to just bung the seeds into damp compost in a plastic bag, seal and keep in a light place but out of direct sunlight).
I have a LOT of plants now, because I was unaware of the phenonemol germination rate. It must be near 100%.
I have some I grew last year that are about 3 feet tall now. They grow into tall bushes but can be trained into single stemmed trees, although you will have to spent a lot of time removing all the suckers they throw up from around the base.
They are self fertile so one plant is enough for fruit.
Plants grown from seed do not grow 'true', so there is every chance the plant will not be like the parent. It may have inferior fruit. Or it may have superior fruit. If the latter is the case, they can then be propagated by cuttings.
Inferior fruiting varieties can be used as rootstock onto which a cutting from superior stock can be grafted.
The pomegranate is deciduous and can also be grown as an ornamental as it's leaves vary in colour from deep red to green, to yellow, changing as the age of the leaf changes. It has spikes so can be used as hedging to keep out unwanted intruders. Just trim it into shape. It is drought-tolerant, likes alkaline soil and most can tolerate light frost. Some have been known to survive temperatures of -10C.
My two year old pomegranates are throwing out their first flowers which are a very attractive deep orangey/red. I wonder why no-one told them the normal time of year to flower is early spring, not autumn!
Perhaps they are confused because they are not from local produce, their parent having been bought in Tesco.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Thanks dogs and cats! One of you has eaten and ripped up the one papaya plant that was growing directly in the garden. Of course, I really blame your male owner who obviously can't keep you under control when you enter the garden to shit everywhere.

More Grass

Hmmm.. we've had rain for weeks and his excuse for not cutting the grass was that it was too wet. Now that it hasn't rained for a few days his excuse is wearing thin. Truth is, some of the grass has grown too long for the mower to cope with.
As you know, I got some of it under control one day but the incident with the centipede has well and truly put me off trying again. Everytime I do some work in the garden I have to spray all exposed skin with Autun or a similar insecticide, because there is some as yet unidentified insect that bites and causes an allergic reaction that lays me up for days.