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APRIL 2024

As we work our way through April the spring blossom of the Magnolias is in full bloom, the rain and the warmer temperatures have combined, and the garden is flourishing.

This month I want to focus on the process of growing plants from seed as it is at this time of year that we take many plants from seeds to adults that will crop in the garden.

Let us follow the journey of Mangetout 'Oregon'...

Above are the seeds. Those that are damaged or showing signs of disease can be discarded, but many are plump, healthy and very useable.

The seeds are sown into module trays, two seeds per module. They are labelled with their date of sowing and name then placed on the heated misting bench.

The base-heat encourages the roots to grow whilst the top misting creates a humid environment, which prevents water loss and provides the most efficient growing conditions for the seeds and developing seedlings.

Once the seedling plant has grown a large number of roots and has a dense rootball so that no loose compost falls away, then the 'plug' is ready to be removed from the module tray and transplanted into a 9cm pot.

If transplanted too early into a large pot then the plant may dry out too quickly or worse be swamped by too much water in the larger pot so it is always better to move the seedling through different sizes of growing space. The plant will survive better and grow more quickly.

When the plant is nearly crawling out of the door then it is ready to go out.

We stand the plant in the cold frames for a week or so to 'harden-off' and prevent any sudden shocks of temperature damaging or slowing its rate of growth.

After that the plant is dug into its final spot where it will spend its adult life producing crops of pea-pods.

Mangetout plants like other peas have side tendrils, which they use to 'climb' through twiggy supports and hold themselves up, but we give them some initial help by tying them to the base of the 'pea-sticks'.

In another month or so the first crops can be harvested.

When the plants have ceased producing crops, the top growth will be removed, but the roots will be left in the ground. As with all other legume plants the roots have nodules that contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This patch of soil will then be planted with brassicas, which need large amounts of nitrogen for growth, and so will very much enjoy these enriched soil conditions.

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