Archive for the ‘The flower garden’ Category

What To Do In The Garden In June

June 1st, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

June Gardening - Hanging BasketsJune is open season in the garden, pretty much anything goes this month. Summer baskets and patio containers can be safely put on show, and beds and borders can be filled with your favourite summer flowers. All plants raised indoors or under glass through spring can now be planted out. Harvesting of your earliest vegetable sowings will begin in earnest and further sowing can be made outside.  With space becoming available in greenhouses and on windowsills you can start to plan sowings of biennials and perennials for next year’s displays,  and winter bedding can be sown ready for planting out in autumn.
Watering, weeding and feeding become essential jobs this month, and if you grow fruit and vegetables you’ll need to start thinking about protecting your crops from hungry birds.  Rolls of netting, fruit cages and net tunnel cloches will need to be called on.

We have a wide range of tips and advice to keep you more than busy through June, but don’t forget to take the time to sit back and enjoy the rewards of all your hard labours of spring as summer sets the garden underway.

Night Phlox Midnight Candy - June GardeningIn the flower garden

Still time to sow fast annuals
Running behind on the sowing season? There is still time to sow fast flowering hardy annuals in pots or borders for colour in as little as 6-8 weeks. If it’s fast colour you are after, sow the following in the next week or so: nasturtiums, night phlox, calendula, poached egg plant, swan river daisy, Californian poppy

Sowing perennials
A mix of hardy herbaceous perennials is an essential element in any successful border planting, adding seasonal shape, colour and interest for many years with minimal upkeep.

Costly as container-grown plants, perennials are no more difficult to start from seed than the more commonly sown hardy annuals. So for the relatively low cost of a few packets of seed you can plant up large areas with perennial permanence. You will also find varieties in our perennial seed range that are rarely, if ever, available to buy as mature plants. If you are looking for an extra special perennial for your garden borders and patio containers you really have to start with seed.

By sowing perennial flower seed in June, plants have time to put on good foliage and root growth before resting over winter. This gives them the reserves to grow strongly the following spring and offer good floral colour through the first summer and many more to come.

With so many to choose from, here is our top 10 perennial picks to give you a taste:

Carnation Picotee Fantasy Mix striking blend of scented stripes and picotees
Hardy Geranium Splish Splash – Masses of large striped blooms
Scabious Border Mixed Seeds – attracts bees and butterflies
Veronica Rose Tones – Good for borders and cutting
Echinacea PowWow Wild Berry – essential late season colour
Aubrietia Cascade Mixed – beautiful spring flower cushions
Delphinium Pacific Giants Mixed – tall elegant spires
Lupin Russell Mixed – Impressive early summer colour
Meconopsis alba – spectacular white flowered form of Himalayan poppy
Iceland poppy superb in cottage gardens

All Mr Fothergill’s seeds come with sowing and growing instructions, but for more detail read our handy sowing guide here

Interestingly, many of the shorter lived perennials are better treated as biennials, looking best in their second year and losing their lustre in their third and fourth years. Aquilegia, hollyhocks, lupins, sweet williams and many other popular perennials can be raised this way for better garden displays. We will look at biennials more closely next month.

Antirrhinum Candelabra™ Mixed F1 Plants - June GardeningTop tips for heavenly hanging baskets

Nothing shouts summer like a stunning hanging basket displays. Get the best from your baskets this summer with our simple tips for success:

  • Always use the largest basket and best quality compost that fits your budget
  • Mix water retaining gel with compost to get plants through the heat of the day
  • Mix slow release fertiliser with the compost or offer regular liquid feeds
  • A good planting rule for baskets with side planting is 1 plant per diameter inch, so for a 12in basket use 12 plants.
  • Halve this for baskets with no side planting capacity (6 plants to a 12in basket)
  • Add upright plants in the centre and trailing plants around the side.
  • Add one or two foliage plants for extra interest and texture
  • Remove the first flowers after planting up. Plants will concentrate on rooting and branching for a short period, and better flowering will occur as a result
  • Water regularly – at least once a day during peak of summer, and best done early morning or late evening
  • While watering, remove any spent flowers to prevent seeding and encourage a succession of blooms right through summer.
  • Add a basket tomato plant to your displays for an extra treat through summer.
  • Baskets can be heavy – do not water them until they are hung safely in place.

Gardening Weeding - JuneOther jobs for June:
Weed Control
Keep borders weed free with regular  hoeing of any open soil, and inspect closely around the base of ornamental plants – weeds have an annoying habit of quietly establishing right in the crown of prized border plants, making their removal difficult if deep roots are allowed to develop.
Planting out
Early June onwards is the time to plant for seasonal summer displays. All frost tender plants raised under glass through spring can now be put on show. To get the best from your summer borders see our handy planting guide here.
Slug and snail patrol
We’ve all fallen foul of slugs and snails in the garden. They hit indiscriminately, both in the border and the vegetable patch – even patio pot plants aren’t safe! Keep slugs from your prized plants this summer with one or more of the following:
Slug Pellets: Try to avoid chemical versions; bird-safe organic pellets are available and just as effective.

Material barrier: Get rid of slugs without killing them with Slug Gone. These wool pellets are placed around plants to fluff up and create a barrier or irritating fibres that the slugs won’t pass over.

Beer traps: Slugs dip in for a drink and can’t get back out again. Effective but a horrible mess to pour away!

‘Citrus shells’: Place your finished breakfast grapefruit or half a scooped out orange upside down in the border – slugs will gather below it and you can destroy them as you see fit.

Copper tape: Place copper tape around patio pots to create a barrier that slugs don’t like to pass over (they can still get through drainage holes though!).

Porridge oats: Place a dish of oats outside for the slugs to eat. It will expand once eaten, killing off the slugs.
Natural nematodes: Nemyslug is a natural biological control employing microscopic nematodes to do the nasty work for you. It is simply mixed into watering can and applied to soils every six weeks.

Veg patch - June GardeningOn the veg patch

Plant out half hardy and tender vegetable plants
Half hardy and frost tender vegetables raised under glass through spring can be planted out in earnest this month. It pays to acclimatise them first – frosts may be gone, but cold winds can still do damage. Place plants outside by day and move back under cover each evening for a few days before planting in the final positions.
Make a second tender sowing
Having planted out you can make another sowing for a second, later harvest.
Courgettes, squash, French beans, runner beans, sweet corn and tender herbs can all be direct sown this month.
Tips for tender veg:

  • Don’t plant too many courgettes – 2 or 3 plants should be plenty for an average household
  • Plant sweet corn in blocks rather than rows to improve pollination and cob setting
  • Plant dwarf beans in blocks rather than rows so the plants help support each other.
  • Give pumpkins and squashes plenty of room for their vine-like ground growth. For the largest pumpkins and squashes, pinch out all new flowers after 3 or 4 fruits have set.
  • Make sure to give peppers, tomatoes, chillies, aubergines, cucumbers and melons the sunniest spot when growing them outside, ideally sheltered from cold winds.

Other vegetables to sow outdoors this month:
Beetroot, carrots, broccoli, kale, peas, and salad leaves, spring onions,  swede, Swiss chard, turnips, winter cabbage, radish, endives, lettuce, Oriental leaves, radish, spinach.
For the longest harvest window and freshest crops from your summer vegetables, divide the remaining growing space to allow furthers sowings every two weeks through to mid-July. This should keep you picking into October- and possibly right through winter with hardy types.

In the greenhouse
Greenhouse crops should be in their final positions now.
In the Mr Fothergill’s polytunnel we grow our tomatoes cucumbers and melons in 10 litre bucket pots, but good results can also be had in growing bags.
We grow all our peppers and chillies in small 3 litre pots and then set these into growing bags, three per bag. The plants soon root through the pots into the bags which act as a feed and water reservoir. We have had our best ever results since adopting this method, and we urge you to give it a try.

Try something different: Three sisters planting
Take a tip from the Native Americans who grew sweet corn, pumpkins and climbing beans together in a symbiotic relationship, known as three sisters planting. A pumpkin is planted in the centre, surrounded by a block of sweet corn and a bean plant is added next to each sweet corn. Each vegetable draws on a different key nutrient to maintain growth, avoiding any major competition, and each helps the other in different ways:

  • Pumpkins (or squashes if you prefer) shade the soil and retain moisture with their large leaves
  • Sweet corn provides a climbing support for the beans
  • Beans fix nitrogen in the soil helping support the other two crops

What Happened In May At The Mr Fothergill’s Trial Ground

May 26th, 2017 | News, The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Hard to believe it’s almost June already, time does seem to fly at this time of the year!  Frosts should be at an end now so there’ll be nothing holding us back from filling the trial field with all the more tender young plants from the polytunnel.

Over the last few weeks we’ve finalised the planting plan and we now have a much clearer idea of what will be going where and how much space we’ll have for each trial which helps with putting together the list of items to include.  It’s still a bit flexible of course as things can change on a day to day basis and the plan will continue to evolve as we get through the next month.

One important job completed over the last week was to put together the tubs and troughs to decorate our stand at the Chelsea Flower Show.  It was great to see them go off.

Trial Ground – Carrots

The first signs of green growth are now appearing everywhere out on the trial field, the carrots and parsnips we sowed in April are well up, helped by the first decent rains we had for weeks – 13.8 mm on one day last week certainly broke the dry spell we had all through April.  The sweet peas too are now showing themselves and we’re checking daily to see if there are any lines that need a re-sow.

Trial Ground – Hardy Annuals

The direct sown annuals were sown a couple of weeks ago, with the ground so dry we had to water for a couple of days prior to the sowing date to give them a good start, but we were saved further watering by the perfectly timed onset of the rains.  Just occasionally it seems that nature is on our side!  The green shoots of many lines are already poking up through the soil and with the warm weather predicted this week we’ll expect them to romp away from now on.

Brian always delays the sowing of some species of hardy annual, the eschscholzias and calendulas in particular, as they are so fast growing that they would be past their best by our big open day in August so they are due to go in over the next couple of weeks.

We’ve now planted out the exhibition onions that were started indoors earlier in the year, they need some of our best land to make sure we see the biggest and best bulbs later in the summer.  They’re sharing a patch with a trial of Alstroemeria plants which we’re reviewing for future introduction.  Some of these plants are already showing buds so we’re looking forward to a great show over the summer.

Plants sown indoors for the half hardy annual and first year flowering trials have now been moved outside onto the mypex covered area.  Brian has kept some fleece on hand just in case we get late frosts, it would be a disaster if we were caught out by a cold snap at this point with over 500 trays of young plants at stake!

Trial Ground – Polytunnel

The polytunnel is now in full production, sunflowers, sweet corn and annual climbing flowers are all happily growing away in the protected conditions ready for planting out later.  With the big temperature rises forecast for the end of this week and over the bank holiday we need to get as much as possible outside in the open or they will start to suffer from the excessive heat.

Next it will be time to plant up the hanging baskets, sow the cucumbers and melons and prepare the sugar snap peas, runner and French beans ready for sowing.  We’ll start off the runners indoors but the French beans and sugar snap peas will be sown directly into the ground outside.  The brassicas sown earlier in the month now need pricking out into separate pots.  Unfortunately, the welcome rain also brings the dreaded weeds – they love these conditions as much as our crops – so it’ll be out with the hoes to keep on top of them, especially around the newly germinated rows of carrots, parsnips and direct sown hardy annuals.

How to Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Hanging Baskets [video]

May 16th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

How to Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Hanging Baskets Hanging baskets provide a great space-saving way to grow many fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, strawberries and all manner of leafy herbs and salads.

Hanging baskets offer an excellent way to pack more produce into a smaller space. Suspended from rafters, walls or framing the front door they provide ample opportunity to make the very best of the space you have.

You can grow a surprising variety of crops in hanging baskets. Cherry tomatoes & strawberries work really well. Growing salad leaves in this way lifts them up out of the reach of hungry slugs. Chilli peppers, leafy herbs, spinach, dwarf beans, even cucumbers are suitable candidates for basket growing and can make for a highly attractive display.

Don’t forget a basket or two packing with flowering annuals to pull in the pollinators.

How to plant a hanging basket

Hanging baskets can dry out quicker than other containers as they’re often exposed more to the wind and sun.

  • Select a basket that’s at least 14 inches in diameter. This will hold at least a gallon of potting soil, meaning it will be slower to dry out.
  • It will be heavy, so ensure that your hanging basket’s chains and the support you’re hanging it from is strong enough.
  • The wire basket needs a liner. Place the basket onto a bucket to stop it rocking about. You can use an old potting soil bag as your liner – open the bag and cut it to size, pierce holes into the liner for drainage.
  • Use quality multi-purpose potting soil, mixed with a handful of slow-release fertilizer.
  • Fill your basket with the mix, this size basket should then hold 3 plants of your choice.
  • Remove the plants from their pots and tease apart the outside roots, space them out equally and then fill in gaps with potting soil.
  • Thoroughly water your hanging basket and then simply hang it up!

If you’d like to see how to care for your fruit & veg in hanging baskets, take a look at the video below. If you have any tips yourself, then please do let us know in the comments or on our social media. 

How to Harden Off Indoor Sown Plants

May 15th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Tomato Plants

Preparing plants for planting outside is an important part of the growth process when plants have been sown indoors so that it is not a shock to the system. So how do you harden off indoor sown plants?

Hardening off involves acclimatising plants that have previously been sown inside.  If this process is not followed through correctly it can destroy the plants that you have so lovingly taken the time to grow and nurture.  The process of hardening off should take a week but may possibly take up to two.  It important to not harden off your plants too soon as it can weaken them, the timings to hardening off can be discovered in the video below.

However there are some top tips offered for the hardening off process:

  • Always grow a few extra plants in case of failure in timing, if you have too many you can pass them on
  • Never rush hardening off, your plants will benefit dramatically from the process
  • You must also harden off shop bought plants, as they will also need to be acclimatised to your garden and may have been grown in glasshouses and polytunnels meaning they are not so hardy as they might look.

These are just a few of the tips offered within this video. If you have any tips for the hardening off process yourself, please do share them and let us know!

Maximize Your Space: Stunning Designs for Small Gardens [video]

May 9th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

small gardens designMany of us have a garden that’s smaller than we’d like, but there are plenty of clever design techniques you can use to make the most of your space. In this post, we’ll give you some pointers on making the most of your garden. 

  • Use vertical space –  all gardens, even smaller ones, often have lots of vertical space. You can attach planters to walls or fences, or secure mesh or trellising to encourage climbers to reach for the skies.
  • Even walls shaded at the base may still have plenty of sunlight for climbing plants, setting up the perfect combination for many perennial plants of cool moist roots and sunny leaves.
  • Natural climbing or sprawling plants that can be trained to grow upwards include delicious kiwi fruits, grapevines and a whole host of climbing beans, peas, squashes and vining tomatoes. Make sure supports are sturdy enough to hold the plants up – a squash in full fruit can be very heavy.
  • Many fruit trees can be trained into particular shapes to hug walls or fences.
  • Single-stemmed cordons espaliers with their parallel branches or radiating fans look beautiful, whilst making incredibly efficient use of ground space. While most of these fruits will prefer a wall that catches plenty of direct sunlight.
  • Mix plants up – The traditional approach is to set aside a dedicated area for growing vegetables, fruits and herbs. In small gardens, it’s simply not possible.
  • Try growing edible and ornamental plants together – the results can be stunning!
  • There are many benefits to this approach. Planting flowers and vegetables together makes it harder for pests to hone in on a specific crop while an abundance of blooms ensures there are always beneficial insects on hand to pollinate flowering vegetables such as squash.
  • Select edibles with both good looks and taste. Contrast different leaf textures or colours, for example billowing green curly kale with red cabbage or lettuce in green and red.
  • Choose varieties with interesting flowers or unusual but handsome looks such as bulb or Florence fennel or a variety of chard with colourful stems.

These are just a few methods and ideas for making the most of your small garden. For more advice, take a look at the video below. Be sure to let us know if you have any tips on making the most of small gardens!

Maximize Your Space: Stunning Designs for Small Gardens – GrowVeg