Propagation - When to Propagate
When to Propagate ?
A simple question! but it is one that is quite difficult to answer simply because there is ' no definitive answer' to the question!
The main reason for this is;
"one would need to know the location of the individual gardener, or the facilities that he/she has at their disposal. "
It has to be appreciated that such a situation, creates many variables and sadly, because of this, no one can give an answer that would cover them all.
When the Gardening Press and /or The Media attempt to answer this question, they rarely give a straight answer (possibly because they can't)
They tend to get around the issue by replying something like this;
People in the South of the country should carry out these tasks now, and people further north should wait a while longer before doing so.
In writing this page I am faced with a similar situation, but rather than give a vague answer like the above, I will attempt to address the issue using my own experiences.
In my informative years I found that printed information, although fairly comprehensive, did not assist me specifically, meaning I had to look elsewhere for what I needed.
It would appear that this lack of specific information has always been a problem for gardeners, which led me to look into how gardeners in the past handled the problem.
I found this type of information had generally been passed down through the generations from father to son, or from the head gardener to the apprentice gardener.
This led me to contact a number of these now elderly people and seek out their ‘local knowledge’ and record it!
This I did, and this is how I gained my basic knowledge, and the data to pass on to others by means of this website.
How I recorded my data;
Over the past thirty years or so I have kept diaries detailing my successes and failures and have now collated this information into computerised monthly ‘'schedules' (see Related links)
At the end of each growing season I would sit down with my diary and ask myself questions about things I had grown that season.
The questions were designed to determine which of my crops turned out as planned, and which ones didn't.
On completion of this exercise it was time to study the seed catalogues and place an order for next years seeds.
Firstly I would enter the varieties I wanted to grow again on to the order form.
Next; I would question the varieties that had not come up to my expectations, by asking myself the following questions;
- Was the problem down to me?
- Had I sown them at the correct time
- Would an earlier of later sowing have been better?
- Did I grow them in the wrong location?
- Did we have a normal growing season in terms of the weather? e.g was it generally warmer, dryer or wetter than usual?
If after this exercise I decided to give any of these varieties a second chance I would adjust my records to cater for any errors I may have made in the current season.
In subsequent years, I would scrutinise these varieties again, and decide whether I would continue to grow them again or not!
As a general rule; when I found a variety of something I liked, I would continue growing that variety until a better one come along!
In terms of growing something new it was simply a case of;
If a new promising variety came on to the market, I would compare it by growing it along side the variety that I may want it to replace.
To avoid putting all my eggs in one basket, I would grow 25-30% of my total stock using the 'new variety' and the balance with my tried and tested variety.
Doing it this way meant that both varieties shared the same growing conditions, meaning I got a true comparison.
Subsequently the results went into my diaries!
As mentioned previously 'location' plays a large part in gardeners being able to share information.
With the advent of 'The Internet' people are now able to discuss and share gardening issues with like minded people world wide, but as before, there are still problems regarding timing events in various parts of the country, so I set about doing something about it!
What I did was; I produced a list of Basic Questions and placed them on a few Gardening Forums explaining what I was doing and how I would use the answers.
The questions I asked them were as follows:
- Your Location?
- The date you usually had your last frost ?
- When you planted out your Half Hardy annuals, Hardy annuals and Vegetables in the open and / or under glass?
On receipt of the answers, I collated these with data from my diaries,and produced a regional map showing how much their situation differed from my records and those of the others who replied to my questionaire. (see Related links)
Next, I had to establish a 'datum' that affected ALL gardeners when carrying out their annual routines.
I chose; Latest Frost Dates.
The reason for this choice was simply this ; gardeners tend to gear their 'plant propagation' to suit their 'planting out dates', which in turn, usually coincides with their 'Latest Frost Dates'
Now I had a datum point that I could work from!
My next task was to produce a 'Regional Map' showing the Week Numbers in which the 'Latest Frost Dates' as submitted by those who responded to the questionnaire occurred.
This was a relatively easy to do, but on completion I was still not totally happy with the outcome, so I set about getting more information on the subject.
To this end I found a map produced by the UK Meteorological Office that gave their account on average 'Latest Frost Dates'
I superimposed a grid on to this map and entered the relative week numbers from my survey on to the grid.
On completion of this task I found that there were quite a few gaps on the grid, meaning I had to find some reliable data to fill them!
Modified Meteorological map
This is where the 'Met Office' data came in useful!
I was able to use their data, along with the actual data I had received in the survey, and interpolate the data needed to fill in the remainder of the squares.
With all the squares filled in, I was now in a position to establish; when the last frost might be expected anywhere on the grid.
This in turn gave me and fellow UK Gardeners reasonably reliable information as to when to 'plant out' meaning we had a more 'definitive date' as to;
'When to 'Propagate'