Now is the time to plant up beds, borders, hanging baskets and patio containers with tender bedding plants that will turn gardens into a riot of colour for summer. Watch the weather though for cold frosty nights that could damage these tender plants, and cover with fleece, or Peter Seabrook’s favourite was to use old net curtains.

When planting out bedding give the plants a thorough watering before planting. Try and choose plants for the right position in your garden. For a shady spot you can plant Busy Lizzies and fibrous rooted Begonias, they thrive without too much direct sun. So too will Pansies, Canterbury Bells, Lobelia and even Coleus. For a hot, sunny spot plant Geraniums, Petunias, Zinnia and Eschscholzia (Californian poppy) as they are much more tolerant of hot, dry conditions.

When planting its better if the soil is moist but never wet, so it ends up claggy. Lightly dig the hole with a trowel and firm down with the fingertips, and don’t push too hard as compressed soil is not what you want. Water well in, then leave for a couple of days for the roots to start looking for water, then when they start to grow you could add Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food or other soluble plant food so you can feed and water at the same time. By applying the plant food over the leaves and around the roots you will quickly help the plant to get moving. The nutrients that are absorbed in the first few weeks will help the plants roots to establish quickly.

A little tip for those of you growing strawberries; water and feed them with a Soluble Plant Food just as the fruits are forming. This will supply extra nutrients for maximum fruit set. Then it’s time to slip some protection onto the soil surface so the berries aren’t splashed with mud whenever it rains. Traditionally this would be straw, but you may find this difficult to get hold of. Instead you can use modern fiyba or coir mulch mats that can be pushed under the plant. As straw and the mulch mats can provide ideal hiding places for slugs and snails, you need to sprinkle SlugClear Advanced pellets thinly over the complete area before you put them in place. If this is too much trouble for new gardeners, you can always plant up six strawberry plants in a Strawberry Planter. Placed on a sunny paved patio it is usually free from too many slug problems so you can usually forget the slug pellets. But wherever you grow strawberries you will need to protect the fruits from marauding birds. Out in the garden or on the patio, you will need to cover the crop with netting before the first fruit has turned colour. A cage is an important element to this protection as simply draping the net over the fruits is not enough to keep blackbirds from eating your berries for their breakfast and it’s better you enjoy them than the birds!

Posted in Gardening By Ken Crowther On 5th May 2010

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