Sunday, April 8, 2012

April showers

 There seems to be much debate amongst those I know who breed Iris about the ins and outs of when and what and where is best to germinate and so on. For my BIS seeds I am following through on the initial idea of 6-8 fridge weeks then a warm window sill before hardening off and all seems to be going well.
All the pots are now out beside the house, hardened off and awaiting some space to be moved on into pots and some into the ground.
I did plant a large number of 'homegrown' seeds with only one known parent, now Iris texts will have you think that these are mostly self's (i.e they are self fertilised) which is quite probable given how hidden away the pollen etc al is but still, they may not be, and even self's don't always come true (well after 7 times selfing they are supposed to!). Anyway back to the topic, I planted all the seeds I had from last year (2011), outside all winter in the cold frames beside the house, so not freezing freezing but not exactly warm either. 
Up came 7 xMaslon, yippee, 2 xHeadcorn and today 1 xLoose Valley. Now this xLoose Valley is exciting because I have recently been told that those left out in the normal winter will likely sprout, if they're going to, in April. So maybe this is a sign of things to come. I am optimistic for the 6 other trays of 24 modules looking empty!.

Field Collection

Last week I finished the spring weed, an onerous task I might say. I loathe weeding almost as much as I loathe ironing but while i can buy ironing free clothes, mostly, weed free allotments are like hens teeth, rare things.
They all had a feed of bonemeal, this year is about roots and leaves and less about flowers while they establish in their new spot. That said they are coming along great guns with fat healthy leaves in the main and plump little rhizomes.
I lost 2 Maslon with root rot (3 remain), 1 Headcorn with the same (4 large plants remain). Disco Jewel is rather limping along as it did last year, 3 of 5 roots just didn't grow though the other 2 are in fact fat and flourishing as are the ones in pots at home but either it's a weak stock plant or just a temperamental variety. I also lost 1 Smash but with 4 remaining.
Apart from that there was a little leaf spot which I have sprayed for. A basic fungicide and removed as much dead leafage as possible. I don't like spraying and tbh the collection has had me using more chemicals than ever before in my gardening life but but but I feel a responsibility to keep them in the healthiest and best condition possible and for the moment that means spraying. 
Next year I shall investigate some more ecologically sound practices and establish how much latitude I have with perfection vs reasonable health.

Potted collection
More squirrel damage. 26 pots have succumbed to the little blighters tearing roots out of the ground and discarding them, half eating them (I so wish hey were poisonous!) or simply falling on them and breaking the fans, as part of their shenanigans to gain access to a nearby bird feeder. Grey squirrels are NOT welcome in my garden.
Thankfully the recent rains will give the fans a good start, hand watering the collection would be very onerous, although it is said they can do without water for 3 months at a time, which they did last year.

Any suggestions of suitable interplanting species I could try?

I am thinking about trading weeding favours for plants....say 2 plants per hour of proper weeding? what do you think?

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