Gardening for wildlife

Time to sow the winter annuals

By- Promila Chaturvedi

With the change in season the temperature is coming down. This is the time when we have to prepare our garden for winter. In plains of our country during hot weather there is very little annual colour. Only during cold months most annuals are grown to give colour to our gardens. For growing the annuals in one's garden you can either buy seeds and sow them or directly buy the seedlings plant them in seasonal beds, depending on the availability and size of your garden. For a small garden one can buy seedlings, but for a big garden it is not only economical to buy seeds and grow them in seed- beds but it will also ensure variety in flowers.

How to prepare seed-bed

Seeds are sown in raised bed or in seed-pans. Soil for sowing seeds should have one part soil, one part sand and two parts of fine sifted leaf-mould. In case leaf-mould is not available well- rotted cow-dung manure can be used. Finely powdered peat mixed with vermiculite or sphagnum moss and partite can also be used as a medium for sowing seeds.

A protected sunny spot is chosen for seed beds. A workable size of seed bed is 2.6ft.-3ft. If the soil is not good replace 1ft. soil with the above mentioned mixture in it. In good soil, dig 15in deep, break it well and make raised bed 4in above the ground level; in this top 9in soil should have sand and leaf-mould in it. The bed should be made even. To control fungal attack, charcoal dust can also be added. It should be watered with a can having a rose (shower) attachment. After sowing, the seed should be covered and gradually bed should be exposed to the sun. If seedlings are too close, thin them by plucking some in between for their proper growth. They can be planted in flower beds or in pots. When seedlings are 3-5in in size they can be placed in flower beds or in pots.
The winter seedlings which are easily available and easy to grow are Phlox, Calendula, Marigold, Nasturtium, Hollyhock, Voila/pansy, Alyssum, Larkspur, Clarkia, Antirrhinum, Sweet Sultan, Sweet William, Stock, Dahlia etc. For shade Salvia and cineraria are ideal.

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