Biennnials for the Garden
BIENNIALS are plants which occupy two growing seasons from the seedling stage to the production of ripe seed; they grow during the first season and flower, fruit and die in the second. In the garden the seeds ofare sown in the open any time from about the middle of May to the end of August. The earlier sowings give the better results because good plants are established before the winter. The seeds of biennials are sown in rows and the are either thinned out or put into reserve beds; finally the plants are moved into their permanent quarters before the winter.
Prepare a seed bed as foror vegetables and, once the seed bed is level and the surface of the is fine, use the corner of the draw hoe against a tight line to make little drills of suitable depth and 9 in. apart. Sow the seed thinly in these drills, then use the rake to cover them. If the weather is very dry, it may be necessary to water the rows after sowing. Soak the soil thoroughly by using a sprinkler, leaving it in position for at least an hour; to water for less than this is of very little value.
CARE OF SEEDLINGS
The moment the seedlings come through, hoe lightly between the rows to keep down theand, when the plants are about l in. high, thin them out to 6 in. apart. Transplant the thinnings 6 in. apart into nursery beds, which should be prepared in the same way as the seed bed.
Never allow the seedlings to grow thickly in the rows, or the plants will be ‘drawn’ and will not survive the winter.
During the early growing stages, pests may attack the plants. There is the little black, hopping flea-beetle which invariably attacks wallflowers and there are aphids of various kinds, which may attack other plants. Use Lindex as a seed dressing and after germination as a spray against the flea-beetles, but for the aphids liquid derris is good as well. If the plants are somewhat yellow in colour when they are about 3 in. high, apply a little fish manure along the rows at l oz. per yd. And lightly hoe it in.
When the time comes for, dig up the plants from their nursery beds with as big a ball of soil as possible. This is easier to do if the ground is well watered the day before. Put the plants with their balls of soil into shallow trays so that they can be carried without breaking up the soil. Prepare good-sized holes with the trowel so that the ball of soil may be inserted with the minimum of disturbance. Water the plants in well with a can or hose, watering the side of the hole before covering in, to settle the soil round the roots, or give them artificial rain with a sprinkler for at least half an hour. It may be necessary to water again three days later if the weather is dry.
If the season proves dry, mulch the bed with sedge peat or leaf mould. This mulch not only holds the moisture in the ground but also smothers weeds and provides humus for the soil. Do not allow biennials to remain in the bed after they have finished flowering. Pull them up and put them on theheap.