THE internet guide to Northamptonshire UK
YOUR MONTHLY GARDENING DIARY
The sun will be high on the horizon, providing strong growth stimuli to all your flowers, fruit and vegetables. Whatever the weather, we must all treat water as a precious commodity - saving rain to water butts wherever possible and watering only those plants that need it to survive. The following notes will provide some extra Water Wise ideas for you to be a responsible gardener.
DECORATIVE FLOWER GARDEN
It’s the correct time for planting out into the garden the bevy of beautiful flowers that will decorate our beds and borders for the rest of the summer. Geraniums, petunias, marigolds and verbena are particular favourites nowadays and your garden centre will have a great display to choose from. Because of the susceptibility of ordinary busy lizzies (Impatiens) to downy mildew disease you are not likely to find this popular bedding plant available this year, although the New Guinea hybrid types that so far haven’t shown significant signs of catching the disease are available almost everywhere.
Some gardeners risk planting these tender bedding plants out in May while frosts are still a possibility, the prudent ones will wait until June, knowing the weather then holds few cold-weather perils. The possibility of serious summer drought is, however, always with us. So it is sensible to plant with dry soils in mind.
The water holding capacity of ordinary composts and garden soil can be increased amazingly easily by adding Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Pots and Baskets Gel. These magic granules can absorb up to 150 times their own weight in water, releasing it to plant roots whenever it’s needed. All you need is a couple of teaspoons for either 10 litres of compost or a square foot of garden soil. Here are a few tips on the traditional way to plant out your bedding plants and make the most of every drop of water you have to hand.
These tips for planting out bedding plants apply equally to planting any container grown plant into soil including vegetables, shrubs and flowering perennials such as gaillardia, delphiniums, foxgloves, achillea and the like. With deep rooted plants like this it’s also a good idea to sink a plastic pot beside the root area and fill this with gravel. Any subsequent watering for this plant can then be applied through the pot and means watering takes place several inches below ground level getting down to root level without wetting the soil surface. This is a great technique for watering sweet peas and runner beans.
- Water the plants in trays or pots before planting. Thoroughly wet the root ball of all plants before planting and leave them to drain.
- Improve the water-holding capacity of your soil. That means providing organic matter at root level which is capable of holding more moisture than ordinary garden soil. You may have your own well rotted garden compost to use or you may have to buy a bag of something like Miracle-Gro All Purpose Enriched Compost. Whatever you use, dig a handful or two into the bottom of the planting hole and then water.
- Plant at the right depth. Carefully remove the root ball from your tray or individual pot and place at the correct depth in the planting hole. Use more compost to improve the soil around the root ball and then build a circular wall of soil to hold water immediately over the root area without any running away and being wasted.
- Water and feed moderately. Water the new plant into the soil with a solution of Miracle-Gro All Purpose Soluble Plant Food, wetting the soil and the leaves of the plant. Foliar feeding will help the plant recover more quickly from transplanting shock and help to encourage roots to grow down to moist soil levels.
- Mulch the surface. A layer of organic matter such as Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Decorative Bark will reduce evaporation from the soil surface and at the same time beautify your flower border. This bark has been proven to help soils retain moisture six times longer than ordinary garden soil.
Another tip that you should consider is to include the control of weeds that would otherwise rob your soil of precious moisture and nutrients. While digging and hoeing will disturb the soil surface and encourage more moisture loss, applying a weedkiller will not. Choose one that is systemic and goes in through the leaves and kills right down to the roots. Weedol Rootkill Plus and Roundup Gel are two great ones that will help you clear weeds effectively without soil disturbance.
EXPERT GARDENING TIPIn all the rush to prepare the garden for this summer, don’t forget it’s the perfect time to sow the seeds of wallflowers and other biennials that will bloom next year. Other suitable subjects are foxgloves, Canterbury bells and angelica.
PATIO GARDENINGFixing hanging baskets into place and completing the planting of patio pots, window boxes, containers and hanging baskets takes priority on the patio. Once again we need to be aware that as watering is the biggest part of successful container gardening, the more we can do to reduce frequency and quantity of water needed, the better.
Using the best compost available goes a long way to success and Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Compost is hard to beat. Its unique Aquacoir formula absorbs twice as much water as ordinary multi purpose compost and contains enough nutrients to feed for up to 6 months. If you still want to use up some ordinary compost you can improve its water-holding capacity by adding Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Pots & Baskets Gel - just a couple of teaspoons to 10 litres of compost will do the trick. For super strength feeding power you can add Osmocote Controlled Release Plant Food granules – they contain a balanced feed that will slowly and surely release nutrients to the plant roots during the following growing season.
Pots of lilies will be showing good growth and may soon be ready for flowering. That seems to be the opportune moment for the appearance of red lily beetle to try to ruin the display by eating leaves, nibbling flower buds and reducing the food factory of the foliage. The adults can fly in at any time so keep a check for small eggs in orange to dark brown colours stuck in rows on the underside of the leaves and of course the red adults and the orange larvae that disguise themselves in a black layer of excrement. Picking off the adults is difficult because when disturbed they will drop to the compost and stay upside down so they are more difficult to spot. To control the larval and adult stages spray the whole plant with BugClear Ultra Gun! – the active ingredient gets inside the plant to give great results.
Herbs planted together in a large pot or handy Herb Planter are also very convenient when placed near the kitchen door and can be decorative too. Purple splashed sage, variegated thyme, chives, basil and marjoram are all suitable pot-mates to cram in together. When it comes to the more rampant applemint, peppermint and the common spearmint, keep the roots restricted in a pot, preferably sunk up to its rim in the border, otherwise it will run throughout the garden like a weed.
CLICK HERE TO BUY CONTAINERS & FLOWERPOTS
LAWN CAREKeep on mowing your lawn regularly to keep it looking tidy. For stronger, healthier grass trim it every week if possible. This routine of taking just a little grass from the top each week will keep the grass stronger than if you scalp the lawn every fortnight. If the weather is turning hot and dry, leave the grass clippings on the surface rather than collecting them in the grass box. The fine clippings will help to shade the soil and help to retain what moisture there is in the lawn.
Broad-leaved weeds are more than a visual hiccup to a lawn. They rob the grass of moisture and available nutrients – spreading out to take over the growing room that should be allocated to grass plants.
June is an excellent time to get rid of white clover, daisies, buttercups and other broad-leaved weeds that spoil the look of a summer lawn. You can find granular lawn fertilizers such as EverGreen Complete or Lawn Builder Lawn Food plus Weed Control that include selective weedkillers or you can use a product such as Verdone Extra to dilute in a watering can or pressure sprayer and apply in a liquid form. Killing off the weeds and encouraging soft lush growth will provide a picture-perfect lawn that is a delight to picnic on.
Applying Verdone Extra as a fine spray through your own pressure sprayer or through its own ready to use applicator promises to give best control of weeds, especially the small-leaved weeds. So not only can you easily control dandelions, daisies and plantains you can also put paid to other weeds including black medick, lesser trefoil also known as yellow suckling clover, white clover and common mouse-ear. Whichever product you use, fit the weeding in between lawn mowings. Apply your chosen product about three days after the last cut so that the weeds have a good leaf cover and can absorb plenty of weedkilling ingredients. Leave another three or four days after application before you mow again so that the weeds have moved the weedkiller down to the roots.
EXPERT GARDENING TIPKeep the edges of the lawn trimmed sharply with a pair of long-handled edging shears. If you collect up the trimmings from surrounding soil beds you will provide a great visual look that will be the envy of all visitors.
FRUIT AND VEGETABLESThis is one of the busiest times in the vegetable and fruit garden as frosts are now finished and you can plant out all those tender vegetables that will give you exotic tastes from far off countries. We may take tomatoes, courgettes, peppers and sweet corn as the norm, but often fail to realise these aren’t native to northern Europe and need special care and attention to provide edible crops in our short summers.
The roots of these plants need to be able to grow in moist, rich soil or compost so that they can draw on moisture and nutrients all the time. The weather is warm, the sun is hot and growing conditions have never been better. Garden soil is rarely rich enough to encourage strong growth and rapid flowering and fruiting. In almost all cases digging in home-made kitchen compost, well rotted animal manure or bags of soil conditioner is the way to root happiness, especially for plants that need a moist soil such as cucumbers, courgettes, marrows and the like. You can buy bags of Multi-Purpose compost such as Miracle-Gro All Purpose Enriched Compost or Miracle-Gro Expand ‘n Gro that will both improve the water-holding capacity of the soil and provide balanced nutrients for strong initial growth. Expand ‘n Gro is enriched with a slow release plant food that will give background feeding for up to six months.
Feeding your plants is essential if they are to produce maximum yields. Without plant foods, the leaves will in just a few weeks turn pale green or even yellow and flowers will refuse to set pods or fruit. If you have planted your small seedlings in enriched soil or perhaps Tomorite giant planters, it’s a good rule of thumb to start supplementary feeding six weeks after planting. Pick your plant food with care. If the plant is going to provide fruits then you need a high potash feed such as Liquid Tomorite or Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own Vegetable Liquid Plant Food. If the plant is being grown for leaves, such as lettuce, salads and cabbage then the plants need a high nitrogen feed such as Miracle-Gro All Purpose Soluble Plant Food. And if its root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and potatoes, they appreciate a soil dressing of Miracle-Gro Organic Choice All Purpose Plant Food.
Strawberries will be flowering and setting the first of their tasty fruits. To keep the fruits clean, place strawberry mats or fresh straw around each plant after applying a light sprinkling of SlugClear Ultra pellets on the soil. Alternatively you can plant four strawberries in an 8 litre bag of compost or individually in pots to avoid both problems or splashed dirt and slug damage.
Watch out for the appearance of deep-rooted weeds such as docks, thistles and couch grass. With so much growing close by they will be impossible to dig out successfully but are easily killed with one application of Roundup Gel to the leaves.
EXPERT GARDENING TIPCabbage white butterflies will soon be laying their eggs on the underside of leaves of any of the cabbage family. Crush any eggs seen on the underside of leaves and keep an eye open for emerging caterpillars and when holes start to appear on the leaves of cabbages, sprouts or cauliflower spray the plants with BugClear Gun! for Fruit & Veg - unless, of course, like so many people now, you're prepared to sacrifice plants for the sake of the butterflies!
GARDENING INFORMATION FROM The Scotts Company (UK) Limited
WRITTEN BY JOHN CLOWES
ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. USE PESTICIDES SAFELY
Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use. BugClear® Ultra Gun!™ contains acetamiprid. BugClear® Gun!™ for Fruit & Veg contain pyrethrins. EverGreen® Complete contains MCPA, mecoprop-P and ferrous sulphate. Scotts® Lawn Builder™ Lawn Food plus Weed Control contains 2,4-D and dicamba. Verdone® Extra contains fluroxypyr, clopyralid and MCPA. Roundup Gel contains glyphosate. SlugClear® Ultra contains metaldehyde. Weedol® Rootkill Plus contains glyphosate and pyraflufen ethyl. ®, ™ and Miracle-Gro, Osmocote, EverGreen, Levington and Expand ‘N Gro are trade marks of The Scotts Company or its affiliates. Roundup is the registered trade mark of Monsanto Technology LLC. The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company Salisbury House, Catteshall Lane, Godalming, Surrey GU7 1XE. Tel 0845 190 1881
MAIN INDEX - GO SHOPPING