This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The raising of these fine plants from seed has hitherto not received that attention it deserves. The late Dean of Manchester did much in this way, and with the best results; but nevertheless much yet remains to be effected. It should now be the business of the present growers to put into practice the principles the dean laid down, and, by hybridisation and careful management, to improve on his practice, and introduce such an amount of novelty and beauty into the field as will bring these plants within the pale of Florists' flowers. They possess every inherent quality essential to their reception into that class; and, if we -may judge from the comparatively inconspicuous first parents of the now gaudy and highly-developed Pelargonium, the difficulties to be overcome before they can be worthily acceptable will be easily surmounted.
The first step to be considered is, the best means of raising seedlings. About the second week in February, not having a dung-pit here, sticks were placed three feet deep, and eighteen inches wider than the frame intended to be put over them; turfs were used to cover the sticks with, and then the frame was put on. Six inches of soil composed of two-thirds loam and one-third leaf-mould, with a little sand, was put into the frame in a rough state; and on this was sifted about one inch of the same material to form a smooth surface. Drills were drawn in this about half an inch deep and six inches apart, and in these the seed was sown thinly, and covered slightly; the lights were then put on, and were allowed to remain about a fortnight, merely protecting the frame from frost. In the mean time some stable-manure was prepared for linings by turning it two or three times in order to sweeten it, and to prevent it from emitting rank steam or generating too much heat; the lining was placed round the frame and up to its top, about three feet in width, which produced from 6o° to 70° of heat in the day. This, with the assistance of solar warmth until the seed vegetates, which will be from a fortnight to a month, according to circumstances, was sufficient.
Air and water were given when necessary, and the above temperature was kept up during the day; but it was allowed to be 10° lower at night, and, when necessary, shading was applied. This treatment was continued through the spring and summer months; about August, watering was discontinued, but plenty of air, night and morning, was given, closing the frame in the middle of the day, unless it was very hot.
Under such treatment, about November they will be fit to be taken up, when some of the Cardinalis section will in all probability be found growing again. They will require potting, and placing in a cold frame; and they should be protected during the winter. House the others until they shew symptoms of growth; and should that be before March, pot and place them in the frame with the others. Plant the remainder in a bed three inches deep, and about three inches apart in the row, the rows being* about six inches, as under. Protect the bed with mats in case of necessity, and let it be sufficiently large to receive those from the frame when the weather will permit; planting them with the balls entire, shaking and lining will then be all that remains to be done. And by this management I have no doubt the produce will amply reward the cultivator, provided the seed has been saved from good kinds; but much depends on that.
J. Cole, Gardener to J. Willmore, Esq., Aldford.