Nothing short of miracles May 20 2015

Begonias from leaf cuttings. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

To start Gardening group off today, Bridge showed us what can only be described as a horticultural miracle… a selection of begonias which had been propagated from leaf cuttings. They had been created from literally cutting a bit of leaf and planting it in some soil. In some cases you could even see the original leaf cutting…

Begonia from leaf cuttings. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

The technique is called leaf slashing and involves taking the section of leaf, using a razor blade to slash the veins on the back of the leaf and laying it on some soil. From each cut vein, new roots will emerge and a new plant will grow! We didn’t do this in Wednesday Gardening Group today but I hope we will at some point in the future.  

This is my favourite, it looks like a dinosaur.  

Begonia from leaf cuttings. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Today we talked about mealy bug. Now that the danger of a frost has passed (15th May was the big day), it was time to move the echeverias from the conservatory out into the garden. Bridge told us a bit about the difference between Sempervivum and Echeveria…

Sempervivum (meaning “always living”) are hardy so can survive outdoors in the winter although they don’t much like the wet. So they need to be covered over the winter, perhaps in a cold frame.

Sempervivum. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

This one is called “Blue Boy”. What a stunning colour.

Sempervivum "Blue Boy". Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Echeveria are not tolerant to frost so can’t stay out in the winter. They enjoy a cold conservatory or porch as they need a lot of light.

Echeveria. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

These plants can fall victim to mealybug in a hot conservatory if there isn’t enough ventilation so our job for today was to move the echeveria outside. Mealybug is a common greenhouse pest as it thrives in warm, poorly ventilated conditions. We made a sort of plant A&E for all the mealybug-ridden plants which need a bit of TLC.

It’s gross looking, like a clump of talcum powder but don’t despair, there are ways to get rid of it.   

Mealybug. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.            Mealybug. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Ways to rid your plants of mealybug:

  • Ventilation is key. Open greenhouse windows and doors whenever possible.
  • Brush mealybug off the plants with a small brush
  • Remove any dead parts of the plant to improve ventilation
  • Leave the plants outside for a few weeks
  • Don’t over water or let the plants dry out.
  • You can dab an insecticide on the mealybug infestation or ask the internet about alternative remedies such as washing up liquid, alcohol, etc
  • In extreme cases you can order in some Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, they are a type of ladybird who rather enjoy mealybug for tea.

So we made a start on moving the echeveria outside for their summer residence and moving the sempervivum to a new location. While we were doing it we took some of the baby plants that had grown and potted them on/ made some pretty displays.  

Echeveria propagation. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

We used this awesome new gardening tool, which is a brush to dust the soil off the succulents!

Succulent brush. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

There is such a diversity of these plants, and different ways of propagating them. Some of them can have the stalks chopped into little sections, and as long as there are some nodes they will grow into new plants. They need to be put on a heated propagator though. I’ll keep you updated on these.

Sempervivum propagation. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.            Sempervivum propagation. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

My favourite of all of them is the gorgeous Aeonium “Kiwi” (below). When we repotted it and split it into two, Bridge said I could have one half for my room so I was overjoyed. I’ve potted it up and am leaving it outside for 2 weeks now to settle into the pot before I bring it indoors. This will also make sure there are no pests by the time I bring it in, just in case there were some hiding.

Aeonium "Kiwi". Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

Also at Gardening Group today we planted some Geranium phaeum ‘Album’ in a shady part of one of the beds.  

Geraniums. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.            Geraniums. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.

And finally, we planted up tomatoes in these really cool special tomato pots. They go into the ground and include holes for canes to build a wigwam, and a little reservoir for water. It’s important to water tomatoes regularly and evenly at the roots, otherwise they can split before you’ve had a chance to eat them (I’ve done this before, it’s a bit annoying). So the reservoir helps you monitor how much you’re watering the plants. The team set up a frame for the tomatoes to grow up as well and placed this whole contraption in the greenhouse where the warmth will really help the tomatoes out.

Tomato planters. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.            Tomato planters. Garden House Brighton by What You Sow.