MY favourite gardening activity in November and December with schools and community groups is to plant 'spring bulb lasagnes' in pots. People often ask me is December not too late to do this. No, it’s not too late and will give you a lovely container of continual spring flowers from March until the end of May – but you need to do it this week or next.  

Lasagne simply means to plant some layers of bulbs and I always choose tulips, daffodils and crocuses and of course some New Leaf Compost.

Here’s how to create your bulb lasagne. 

  • Drainage is key with bulbs, so all pots and containers need one or more holes in the bottom. These holes then need to be covered with a few pebbles to keep the holes from being clogged with soil or compost.
  • In pots, you can plant your bulbs closer than you do in the garden. Even so, they shouldn’t touch each other or the sides of the pot.
  • If planting just one layer of bulbs, plant at the same depth as you would in the garden – at a depth of twice their height at least (a minimum of three inches).
  • If planting all three layers, start with a layer of compost on top of the stones or pebbles, then place your tulips in (pointy bit up). How many you plant will depend on the size of your pot but just make sure they are spaced out evenly then top them with another layer of compost and plant your daffodils in a similar fashion and then finally cover those and add some crocuses and then do the final layer of compost.         
  • The crocuses will appear in late February or early March, then the daffodils will appear later in March and finally the tulips will bloom in late April or early May, giving a few months of colour – all from the one pot. Water on planting, and regularly in the first weeks when their roots are forming. Don’t let the compost dry out.
      Another activity is to sow some sweet pea seeds to ‘over winter' which just gives you a head start with them in the New Year and can make them a bit hardier. Here’s how I do that...
  • You can sow sweet peas into the cardboard tubes that are in the centre of a toilet roll. That gives the root plenty of space to grow long and downwards.
  • You will need multi-purpose, peat-free compost, toilet roll tubes, sweet pea seeds, a seed tray or container to stand them in and labels or a pen.
  • The cardboard rolls need to be filled with compost and pushed down into the roll but not compacted. Once the tubes are filled, they need placing in a seed tray or container with drainage holes.
  • Pick up one seed at a time and place two seeds in the top of the compost of each cardboard roll before pushing them into the compost about four or five centimetres (two to three inches) deep. 
  • Cover with a little extra compost and water the rolls lightly, not saturating the compost. Cover with a propagator lid or even just a recycled fruit punnet that you get oranges or grapes in. Then place them on a bright windowsill, frost-free porch or greenhouse.

AS YOU SOW....Tulips in spring

AS YOU SOW....Tulips in spring

Remember to label the seeds with the variety and the date they were sown.  There’s always something to do in the garden regardless of the season – in fact it’s great to keep things going all year round.