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Gardening Hints

July third week in your garden:

PROPAGATE SNOWDROPS: A little forward thinking goes a long way in the garden, and although it seems strange to think about snowdrops in summer, this is the best time of year to propagate them by twin-scaling. This method can also be used in late summer for increasing other bulbous plants such as alliums, irises and narcissi. Remember to mark the position of the bulbs in the garden if you are going to dig them up for propagation, as their leaves may have died back by now.
-   First ensure that knives and cutting boards are sterile, and keep them that way throughout. Use only disease-free bulbs.
-   Using a sharp knife, remove the outer brown tunic of the bulb and cut off the dead roots, but leave the basal plate.
-   Cut off the top, or nose, of the bulb.
-   Hold the bulb upside down and cut it vertically into segments, first in half, then into quarters and finally into eight. You will be able to clearly see the scales of the bulb. Cut pairs of scales from each segment, ensuring that each has a piece of the basal plate attached.
-   Shake the scales in a bag containing sulphur dust to minimise the risk of rotting before placing them in a clear plastic bag of moist vermicu- lite. Seal the bag with as much air inside as possible to maintain humidity and leave it in complete darkness at about 20°C (68°F).
-   Within three months new bulblets should have formed. At that stage, plant them into trays and grow them on in a well-ventilated cold frame. Pot on in spring or autumn.
-   Warning: Always wear gloves when handling snowdrop bulbs, as they may cause skin irritation.

Gardening Hints
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