Thursday, November 1

The Gentle Touch

Last year we bought some wallflowers from a local nursery that has since closed and we were on the look-out for another supply. Up until last week the only ones we found were tiny plants grown in trays of six and in our opinion very over-priced. The last week we visited another nursery and happened to see some bundles of wallflowers for sale. We bought a couple which have been patiently waiting to be planted on the plot where they will hopefully provide a bit of colour and perfume next spring.

Wallflowers are brassicas and so it's important that they are not planted in any vegetable beds especially not in those that will later be planted up with anything from the brassica family. We plant ours in beds containing fruit bushes and trees. Not only does this keep them away from the vegetables but being alongside the shed and our seating area we can enjoy them when having a coffee break (weather permitting of course!)

We couldn't plant the wallflowers as quickly as I would have liked so the plants may look a little worse for wear but they should recover.
Next year I've decided to raise my own plants from seed so hopefully will have more control over when they are planted out.

As well as planting the wallflowers I also planted some tulips, some came free as part of an earlier bulb order; others had been dug up after flowering last spring and had been kept in the plot greenhouse.

Before planting the areas needed tidying a little.
At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking not much tidying had taken place but that's where the gentle touch comes in. I plant annuals in the pear tree bed and many of these still had some flowers. If a plant is flowering, in spite of it being November and the conditions not being ideal, then the least I can do is leave them alone until they decide that enough is enough.
There is also the added bonus that many annuals will self seed and provide plants for next year - some, having cross-pollinated, will maybe produce something a little different. Some self-sown seeds have already germinated so, in places, an even more gentle touch was called for. It's worth getting to know your plants so that you can recognise at an early stage which seedlings are weeds and which aren't. I was especially careful around this patch of candytuft seedlings.
I also spotted a young Ladybird poppy which was carefully moved into a more suitable position. Fingers crossed that it doesn't mind the move as I love Ladybird poppies and hope more will spring up to join this one.
Then there was the tub in which a tiny fig is trying to grow. Toadflax that we regret buying some years ago is in need of a serious seeing to. (The toadflax was sold as a rockery plant and the tiny purple flowers on the diminutive plant looked very appealing at the time. Nowhere was any warning that this plant is  one of those plants that attempts world domination and is almost impossible to get rid of! It was planted in the garden where it is a nuisance but somehow it has also managed to find its way onto the plot). Anyway I digress so back on subject - it's always worth looking closely before starting to rip out unwelcome plants as in this case growing in amongst the toadflax is - at least one and possibly three - self-sown verbena bonariensis. As we have no longer any of these plants on the plot, the seeds must have been laying dormant in the soil.
This was an especially welcome find as I want to raise more verbena bonariensis for planting in the front garden. As it was those already planted there were young plants 'found' on the plot and relocated.

The moral of this post is "Look Before You Weed and Where Necessary Employ the Gentle Touch". 


Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/ author by S Garrett

13 comments:

  1. Is there a difference between the Volunteer and the Gate-crasher, do you think?? My situation is a lot easier than yours, of course - my plot is small enough for me to know every (legitimate) plant personally.

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    1. I think that there probably is Mark. Even in our garden we get very welcome uninvited guests such as the daphme that I posted about <a href="http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/shrubby-colour.html>here.</a> If I hadn't recognised that it wasn't a weed and had some idea of what I thought it was then it would have been whipped out at seedling stage which would have been a real shame.

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  2. Great advice Sue...the only problem is I'm not that great at knowing my seedlings...maybe it's something I should brush up on a little. I have to admit to being quite heavy handed at this time of year and go in with the 'everything must go' mindset so that i can get some digging done. I suppose the fact that I don't have flower beds on my allotment does make it a little easier though I am thinking of planting some this year..though only edible ones and maybe in pots. Nonetheless I suppose I will need to pay more attention to self sown seeds that I could move back to containers again.

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    1. Must admit that this advice doesn't always transfer to the vegetable beds, Tanya, But the fruit beds don't get dug!

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    2. My fruit are planted in gravel beds so they don't get dug and yet don't get seedling either.

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  3. What a perfect post and how right you are! So pleased you found some Verbena Bonariensis seedlings. Horrah!

    Well I remember the powerful scent of wallflowers visiting Banbury, England many years ago. But I am not sure I understand why one shouldn't plant them where brassicas will grow in future, even though they are in the Brassica family.

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    1. If you have bought in wallflowers like I did you can introduce club root to the soil, Bren. Although we already have that problem.

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  4. I didn't know that wallflowers are brassicas, a good job I haven't planted any in my veg beds. I'm rubbish at identifying seedlings, I've probably dug up loads of little gems.

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    1. If you look at a wallflower - flower it has four petals shaped in a cross just like the flowers of brassica, Jo.

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  5. I'm with you 100% on this one Sue you never know what is going to pop us.

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    1. All the verbena in the front were dug up from strange places on the plot, Elaine. I originally grew them from seed. Now I notice some companies selling them at £7.99 per plant!

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  6. I'm not good in identifying seedling too! Most of the time I dug the up thinking of weeds! sigh.... ;(

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    1. That's a shame Malar - I bet you have some really interesting seedlings

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