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Springtime LiveSpringtime Live 2015

Springtime Live now in its second year is organised by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and Fruitscape will be there encouraging people to Grow Your Own by offering the chance to sow some seeds of Sunflowers, broad beans, peas, poached egg plant as well as planting potatoes and onions.

A selection of quick growing, quick to flower Sunflowers have been chosen, which given favourable conditions, should come into bloom during July.

The varieties chosen are:-

Big Smile, Incredible, Solita and Teddy Bear

These are dwarf sunflowers that can be grown in a pot as they only reaches a height of 45cm [6 inches]; the flower is a classically shaped sunflower except for Teddy Bear which has a double fluffy flower.  Given the right conditions They should flower in 55-60 days

Sunbright

Grows to 2m tall and is the professional cut-flower growers favourite sunflower. Flowers 60-70 days form sowing. A Pollen free variety.

Giant Yellow

This is your classic tall sunflower growing to around 2 - 3m tall. They will produce big disc flowers during August that will follow the sun. Giant Yellow typically produces a single flower that produces black and white stripped seeds.

Moonwalker

Another tall sunflower growing to around 3m, producing flowers that have  lemon coloured petals flowering in August

How to grow Sunflowers

Sunflowers are easy to grow, but to get them flowering in early July they will needed be be started off indoors. Sunflowers germinate best at around 20°C

To help maintain this temperature you may want to make a mini greenhouse out of a cut down pop bottle

At Springtime Live in 2013 we sowed the seed into a 50mm soil block made using a Ladbrooke soil blocker from Blackberry Lane. Once the roots appear out the block they should be planted into a 20cm pot containing a good quality multi purpose compost. Sunflowers grow best when a temperature of 10°C is maintained. They are thirsty plants but do not over water or they can suffer from stem rot. If you are trying to grow a giant, feed them regularly with a liquid feed.

The plants can go outdoors once all risk of frost has past. As most of the seeds we chose are for dwarf plants they can happily sit on a sunny windowsill until the weather is favourable.

Feed the plants regularly except for Solita which flowers better when hungry and watch out for slugs and snails because they like to eat the young shoots of sunflowers.

Sunflowers started in pots will need to be potted on as they grow as they do not like their roots being damaged.  If you wish to plant outdoor, please protect from frost as Sunflowers plants are not frost hardy.

We received several questions about the mix use to make the soil blocks. It was based on Elliot Colemans recipe in his book "The New Organic Grower" ISBN 093003175X   It consisted of 30l Peat, 125ml lime, 20l Perlite, 750ml fish, blood & Bone fertiliser, 30l Garden compost (some from the wormery, some from the compost heap).

How to grow Potatoes

The potato being grown is an early cropping potato called Rocket, ready to harvest in 12 weeks after planting.  

Having planted the potato, if the compost is dry it can be lightly watered and kept somewhere that is bright that is not too warm nor too cold.  Potato leaves can be damaged by frost.  Potatoes grow best when the temperature is 10 - 15 degrees C.  You may choose to plant in a greenhouse but be careful as the temperature can get too hot.  You can start growing the potato in a greenhouse and move the pot outside when the weather is favourable.  Container grown potatoes can be grown outdoors but you may choose to protect the plant by covering with horticultural fleece if a frost is forecast.  Don't forget to water them but not too much as they can rot if too wet.

Your school or nursery may wish to take part in the Potato Council's Grow Your Own Potato project

How to grow Beans and Peas

The varieties selected can be started off in pots and when the roots show through the bottom of the pot can be planted in the ground or large pot in a bright sunny location.  Pigeons and sparrows like to eat young pea shoots so protect them by covering with a few twigs. The peas will grow through them.  They need little attention except for watering when the compost is dry.