The Potting Bench Diaries – 8th March 2023

This week was a bloody good one for our garden! We finally got a greenhouse (more on that next week maybe), the majority of our bare roots came (more on that below) and all of the dahlias arrived too, hurrah! There truly is nothing quite like planting up some rather underwhelming and odd roots and tubers – not when you know the potential that they hold for an almighty glorious garden for summer – famous last words I’m sure.

Starting with bare roots, I wanted to give you an idea as to why I’m mildly obsessed with them.

The first reason is that they’re rather cheaper than buying a potted plant, slightly later down the line. Clearly you have to do more work here, and you’re getting a cheaper product because there isn’t that added labour cost and growing time, but these unsuspecting root systems will soon catch up with the aforementioned potted friends in short time. Of course, you do ideally need somewhere to grow these on before planting out but they’d be fine growing in a kitchen or similar if you don’t have a cold frame etc.

When you buy these (which you can do until around April) – they’ll come as a shrivelled collection of roots and a portion of stem, sometimes showing early signs of new growth. When you open them, its best practice to soak them in lukewarm water for a few hours to rehydrate them before planting.

If you’re getting them now then pot them up and let them grow on before planting out after the last frost, or you can buy them later and plant out later – entirely up to you. The range of plants available as bare roots only seems to increase each year but its a rather cost effective way to garden!

Along with the bare roots, all 19 of our dahlias came last week (some from The Rose Press Garden, some from Harts Nursery and the bulk from Sarah Raven) and I’ve potted them all up over the weekend.

There is a frost due this week but they’re tightly wrapped up in the new greenhouse with some wool matting (mentioned last week) so they should be fine – I hope! Considering I hated growing them two years ago, to say we’ll have 19 this years seems a far cry from 2021! I’ve learned to better manage the slugs and support them in the ways that they need, although they can be fussy plants, I’ve found anyway.

The greenhouse is really quite full actually – all quite suddenly! The bare roots and dahlias haven’t helped there but I’ve moved everything from the cold frame, into the greenhouse too – including foxgloves, sweet peas and the couple of Cobaea that seem to be doing rather well.

I absolutely adore foxgloves but we don’t have the ideal space to grow them in the borders, so I effectively create a mini part-shade border with pots, just next to a conifer and the foxgloves will go there. This year’s varieties are ‘White’ Hybrid Dalmatian and Peach Hybrid Dalmatian. Can’t wait!

And finally, another excellent guest on the podcast this week as I chat with Senior Content Creator at Gardener’s World Magazine, Miranda Janatka.

Miranda’s career started at Kew for a number of years before moving across to Gardener’s World, but she wasn’t always on a path to a life in horticulture…

Listen now to hear about Miranda’s book ‘A Flower A Day’ and much more.

That’s all for this week – I hope you manage to escape the full brunt of the potential frost (and snow) this week and you’re able to get out into the garden!

See you again next week,

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