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What to plant?
captain Hugel and Hippophae Salicifolia

check out the table to pick which one to plant and how to get the timing right.
Rule of thumb, read the packet, or plant now! If you are planting them in trays, watch out for browning stems, they are a definite sign that you need to plant out.

Flowers, this is a bit late in the season (March) to get them to bloom by May 1. The best option is to get some already potted, or try the fast growing Virginian

Choosing the right flowers seeds for easy success and dramatic color takes only a bit of research. Select plants that can be neglected, such as hardy annuals. The best time to sow these is in autumn or very early spring.
'Hardy annual'
means that although the plant completes its life cycle in one year (as in annual), the seeds are cold hardy enough to live over the winter. Biennials are plants that live for two years. The first year they only put up leaves, the second, they bloom, set seed, and die. Much like canons or a round in a song, the trick to these plants is to start them in succession. Once they are established they will reseed and continue for years. Some good examples of biennials are foxgloves, wallflowers and forget-me-nots, which also happen to thrive in partial shade. Biennial seeds are best sown in autumn. Perennials are plants that can live for several years or more. Some easy perennials to grow from seed are evening primrose, lupines and oriental poppies.


Trees, bushes, get them from development sites, or find a decent nursery. Don't be tempted by big specimens, younger plants will adapt and grow faster.
Planting trees for lasting results takes a bit of effort... usually a 3-4 year old fruit tree will thrive in 2-3 foot deep hole with a mix of earth and compost or rotted manure. Then mulch with carpet or sawdust.
Grafting apple branches on crabapple trees can have wonderful results. Try using a pencil sharpener on the branch, drill a hole of about 1-1.5 cm deep, fill with grafting glue and stick it in.
Hippophae Salicifolia is this months 'guerrilla tree'..

Green manures are plants grown to fertilise and create soil the lazy way. Rake the soil surface, removing big rocks and other non organic material, spread seeds liberally, rake lightly again, water or wait for the rain. The ground will slowly start living again, and with a bit of luck plants will reseed and build up earth by themselves over time.

Have a look at the list of which plants can be used, but the cheap and easy way to do it is to buy mustard seeds from your local corner shop.
Comfrey can be found around, especially near canals. Dig out bits of roots and put them everywhere. It grows extremely fast, spreads and is exellent in compost.

Turf, easily found from your office block garden, it is often precut for you, but if not, cut strips of about 40cm wide with a spade and roll them up. Place them anywhere more useful and it should survive if there is a bit of earth beneath it.
If you're not fussed about having something green to sit on, try lawn stenciling. Get an old bed sheet and imagine a design or slogan. Something simple and bold. Cut out the pattern, and get some 16-16-16 fertilizer. Lay down the sheet in a prominent place and sprinkle the fertiliser over the open parts of the stencil. Make sure to brush any fertilizer that is laying on the sheet into the open areas of the stencil before you remove it. After a couple of weeks the grass should go darker green. The best time to do this is May or June when the nights have begun to warm. A similar effect in brown may be achieved with herbicide or on a smaller scale, salt. Alternatives to lawns can be found at "what to do with a lawn".

Weeds are great, leave them unless they are too invasive, or hack them down to build beds or compost. Find out what they tell you about your soil.

How to get them ready?
Sow direct onto the soil, with a bit of compost if the soil is poor, then water and let nature do the rest.
grow plants in trays - probably the best way of doing it as you waste less seeds, grow stuff earlier in the season, and raise stronger plants...
Use trays like the one pictured left or make your own using cut tubing 3-4cm diameter and 5-10 cm long, glued together in a beehive pattern. Each flat could be a little smaller than the size of your rucksack. Fill with compost to the top and put 2 or 3 seeds in each cell (more if the seed packet is old), between 2mm and 1cm deep depending on the size of the seed. For larger plants make degradable paper pots.

Then place in...
- a window sill, south east exposure is ideal. You can transform your window into a greenhouse by putting shelves across it (min 30 cm apart depending on depth of shelf).
Other improvements could be putting double glazing (clear plastic is enough), aluminum foil on the side of the shelf, or behind them if you're not bothered about light.

- a cold frame, a box with a window lid inclined towards the sun,
placed outside. Perfect on a flat roof.

In both cases...
- cover trays with plastic in the begining to speed up germination. -make sure you don't cook the plants - open the window on a sunny day. As the cells are pretty small water often.

- harden your plants by taking them outside 4 days before transplanting. First couple of days bring them in at night, last two, leave them outside.
-before transplanting stop watering for ease of transport (weight and mess) and easier removal from the seedtray.

Where to plant?

As we've established everywhere is the best option.
There are a few things to take into account

Climate: does your plant like sun or shade. Fruit or tropical plants enjoy full exposure, as opposed to strawberries, wild garlic or lettuces and other greens who do better next to or beneath other plants.
Then think of space, is your plant a climber (beans grow around lamposts, peas on mesh fences), how big does your plant get compared to the space available? Is it likely to be spotted or troden on?
What kind of soil is it? Herbs thrive on poor soils, root vegetables in sandy light soils, fast growing plants (eg. tomatoes or squash) in rich soil.
Contaminated land can host flowers, non eatables, and fruit trees. The toxins will be contained within the wood, and the fruit won't be affected.
See the soil section for more details on how to create better environments.

How to transport?
Bag up roots of trees, keep exposure to the air as low as possible. Place your flats in cardboard boxes and cut the bottom of plastic bottles to place on top of your pots ( if you have to move the leaves around to fit them in, remember most plants prefer having their leaves turned upwards). Cellotape it alltogether for transportation.
Thanks to the plasterers in manchester for the studio space @ the plastering company
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