Biggleswade and District Gardening Club

PUBLISHED: 15:57 06 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:00 06 May 2010

Resumed its meetings after the summer break with a visit from Geoff Hodge talking about propagation – plants for free, always an enticing prospect for a serious gardener. Geoff has been the editor of two gardening journals and is currently in charge of th

Resumed its meetings after the summer break with a visit from Geoff Hodge talking about propagation - plants for free, always an enticing prospect for a serious gardener. Geoff has been the editor of two gardening journals and is currently in charge of the Royal Horticultural Society's website, so obviously knowledgeable. He came with a mass of equipment, some of which he uses and some is never used. It became clear later that one of the most useful objects a propagator can have is possibly an ordinary plastic bag. Most of the walk related to cuttings and on a show of hands, it seemed as if the majority of the audience had tried this method of increasing their stock, even though they might not always be successful. It is unfortunate that some gardens which used to open for charity are now closed as visitors were helping themselves to plant material without asking first and when clearing up at the end of the day, owners found that good plants prized for cutting material had been mutilated. It is obvious that there are times of the year when you will get better success with cuttings than from gardening books. Some of the particular points to notice are that you will get much better success if the parent plant is healthy. Cuttings are very susceptible to disease and you should keep the tools you use very clean. Do not use shoots for cutting which have a flower or bud visible, they are harder to root, one good tip was to find a good parent plant and in spring cut it back hard at the back (where it will not be seen) and you will find good strong new shoots appearing which will be perfect to work with. The compost you use is most important and Geoff uses a mixture of 50/50 pear and vermiculite as it holds the moisture well, he mixes it with his hands as this will introduce air. Enough water should be added so that the mix holds together. Then the pot should not need watering until the material has started to make roots, maybe 2 -3 weeks. The competition for three stems of a shrub was won by 1) Kate Dilley and 2) Pam Nuttall, the next meeting is at Stratton School on October 18 at 7.30pm when Arthur Shipp will talk about the world of the hyacinth


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