This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
In recent numbers of the 'Gardener' a good deal has been written about this most useful spring and winter flowering greenhouse plant, and as I value it highly and grow it by the hundred from seed, I wish to let it be known, through the medium of the pages of the 'Gardener,' how I grow them, as I think my treatment differs a little from what I have read. I have followed this plan for years, and have Cinerarias in bloom from October to July. This year the first lot came into flower the last week of September: referring to my note-book, I find the seed was sown on the 11th of March, in a seed-pan, and taken to the propagating-pit. There they remained until the plants were covering the soil; the pan was then put into a cooler house, and on the 22d April the young plants were pricked out into common cutting-boxes, and put into a cold frame and shaded for some days, the soil used being sand and leaf-mould with a little loam. On the 23d of June they were potted into 6, 7, and 8 inch pots, according to size of plant: only a few were put into 6-inch pots. I never use small pots for Cinerarias; the soil I give them is, loam two parts, rotten cow-dung one part, leaf-mould one part, and sand one part, and a few ½-inch bones.
They are grown in a cold frame all the summer, and after they are fully established in the pots the sashes are drawn off altogether, and only put on during high winds or heavy rains. I sow a second lot; and on again referring to my note-book I see they were sown on the 18th of May. I have not, however, noted down when they were put into boxes or when they were potted, but they get the same treatment as the first lot, only they are all put into 6-inch pots, getting a larger shift some time in March, and then they come in for late flowering. I have given over growing named sorts, being convinced that seedlings are better, and I generally get very good seed; indeed, some of my last year's flowers were as good as any named sorts I ever saw. This year, however, my plants are not nearly so good as usual, and I attribute that to the following causes: I said the plants were grown in a cold frame all summer; the frame is a large three-light one, with a fixed stage in it for growing Auriculas. The plants grew splendidly, but the foliage got spoiled by high winds; and as the foliage was a good bit above the frame, I could not get the sashes drawn on to shelter them; my stock of potting-soil got done, and I had to begin on a heap not sufficiently rotted, and used a little more leaf-mould than usual amongst it.
That, I think, caused the plants to grow stronger and softer than in former years. Our conservatory is now gay with Cinerarias, small plants of Zonal Geraniums, and Vallota purpurea, Primulas &c J. Heath.
Clement Pake, Lochee.