Jottings from Bolam September 2011
I have been cutting down, splitting and moving plants about this month. Here in the North East spring comes late and winter early, so we have to get a move on if disturbed plants are to get new roots down before the cold halts growth. Some hardy plants dont mind, but most plants will survive and grow away better when spring comes, eventually, if they have established roots. Most plants are very active in late summer putting out vigorous roots, storing food for spring growth.
I slash the top growth off a lifted clump, before using two forks to split into manageable pieces. Quite severe trimming is necessary as the disturbed roots are unable to support much foliage, and leaving large leaves in place causes desiccation. Most old roots are trimmed off, and old and damaged foliage cut away to prevent rot, before planting in a pot or the ground.
I make my own compost using local composted green waste, our own leaf mould, perlite and some bone meal in autumn, blood fish and bone in spring. Plants love to get their roots into the open texture.
My incentive is the Propagation Day held here this month for the local HPS Group, and our groups first public plant sale in May. Seeing an increasing collection of little plants in pots or lined up in the veg garden ready for potting up in spring, is very satisfying. Lining up in my light soil is the safest, bearing in mind recent winters, but left too late in Spring before potting can mean that the root ball needs a large pot, and a check to growth. This year I plan to plunge most pots into a layer of mulch into empty compost bins, to prevent root balls freezing solid in the event of yet another severe winter, which local farmers forecast! We shall see.
Text and photograph by Heather Russell of the HPS North East Group.
The photographs were taken on 24th September 2011.