THE internet guide to Northamptonshire UK
YOUR MONTHLY GARDENING DIARY
Really long days and warm temperatures provide great growing conditions although it is still possible to suffer with freezing night time temperatures if the skies are clear. Judging the best time to plant out tender flowers and vegetables is the key to summer success – not too early for frosts to kill them and not too late to defer flowering. A visit to the garden centre to buy bedding plants is an exciting trip. For the widest choice a visit on weekdays or Saturday morning is better than a Sunday afternoon.
It’s time to plant up growing bags and patio containers with decorative flowers and productive fruit and salad vegetables. It is still possible for late spring frosts to be felt during the first half of May so make sure you have some fleece or newspaper handy to cover your tomatoes, peppers, geraniums and petunias if the weatherman forecasts freezing temperatures. The best growing bags to use for tomatoes is the Levington Tomorite Giant Planter and the Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Giant Planter for all other vegetables such as peppers, aubergines and lettuce.
click here to buy
With flowering containers most gardeners forget any thoughts of minimalist style and cram too many plants into the container or hanging basket. Horticulturalists will tell you that you will get better results from each plant if you give them room to grow, but why give up the impact of an extravagance of flowers in all colours and forms that make such a huge impact on the lushness of your patio? That’s why so many gardeners fill their containers with a mix of fuchsias, petunias, verbena and geraniums so they drip with vibrant colour for the rest of the summer and well into autumn.
With so many plants growing in a small amount of compost, the plant roots need to be able to draw on lots of food and water to continue their display all summer. For these decorative pots and containers Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Compost promises to hold twice as much water as ordinary multi-purpose compost and feed plants for up to six months. As a result it grows plants twice as big with better blooms and healthier growth. This can make all the difference to mixed pots and containers of flowers.
It’s now forty years since the first ever Gro-Bag was launched from Levington Research Station. These large pillows of compost started a revolution in the way we garden and the results we can expect from the composts most of us use today. The original compost in the Gro-Bag was a Universal peat product that showed amateur gardeners how to easily grow flowers, fruit and vegetables in bags, in pots and in all manner of containers. The patio revolution had started.
The Original Levington Gro-Bag lives on today and is still Britain’s number one choice for growing salad plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and sweet peppers.
When it was first launched in 1973 the price of an Original Gro-Bag was £1.39 and millions have been sold in the subsequent years. Cheaper imitations of the Original Gro-Bag have been sold containing variable formulations of growing media. Millions of copycat bags and forty years later, the price of the Levington Original Gro-Bag has not even doubled and will be on sale in 2013 for around £2.50. If the price had kept pace with inflation then gardeners should be paying £15 for this gem of a growing revolution. And good value it would be too.
But can growing composts remain such great value in the future? In short, the answer is, ‘No’. In response to Government direction, the Growing Media industry is working hard to find acceptable alternatives to peat, but these usually work out more expensive. Using recycled green compost, expanded wood fibres and introducing coir from the tropics is no way to reduce costs. In the future us gardeners can expect to pay more for the excellent growing media that we all find essential to home patio gardening. With the steady reduction in the amount of peat in any bag, the days of cheap compost in bags must be almost over. We must expect to pay a reasonable price for a mixed growing medium that performs up to standard. But whether any of us are prepared to pay £15 for one Gro-Bag is another matter.
ROSE MRS DAVIS EVANS
click here to buy roses online
EXPERT GARDENING TIPWatering is the biggest job in patio gardening and this can be minimised if you invest in pot saucers to place under each container. Any excess water that drains through the pot will be held in the saucer and absorbed over the next hour or so back into the compost.
FLOWER BORDERSBefore planting out summer flowers, it’s worth removing any unwanted plants and killing off any weeds that will compete for light, moisture and plant foods in the soil. Digging is always a possibility, but it’s hard work. Much more effective are modern weedkillers that not only kill the top growth but also the roots. Ready to use sprays such as Weedol Gun! Rootkill Plus or Fast Action Roundup RTU will show they’re working in just a couple of days. Be careful when spraying to avoid the foliage of any plants you want to keep, because just a light spray could be fatal. If your weeds are growing through or up close to wanted plants it’s always safer to use Roundup Gel which can spot treat individual leaves so much easier.
If you have a restricted budget to fill your flower borders with bedding plants you can save yourself a fortune by sowing decorative annuals instead of planting expensive bedding plants that are ready to bloom. Miracle-Gro have come up with the economical, no-fuss answer. New Flower Magic is a unique 3-in-1 flower seed mix with extra Miracle-Gro ingredients that promise to give anyone beautiful flowers without effort or experience. Sow the seed mix in April or May onto weed-free garden soil and you and your family will be watching out for new flowers to burst into bloom each month from June to October.
click here to buy
There are three varieties to choose from. The Multi-Coloured Mix contains up to 29 different flower seeds with red, yellow and orange colours for a bright, exuberant look. The Pink & White mix has up to 16 different seeds and the Blue & White mix up to 19 different flower seeds. Best of all, a pot of Flower Magic (£12.99) is sufficient to cover 4 square metres of beds and borders.
Established roses should be developing strong new foliage and plenty of flower buds ready for flowering. This is the time when the white deposits of powdery mildew can ruin the potential display, twisting leaves and coating new buds. Spraying as soon as you see the first signs of the disease is wise. Use a systemic fungicide such as FungusClear Ultra or FungusClear Ultra Gun! to kill existing patches and protect the remaining foliage. If you notice the first signs of greenfly on your roses then the combined insecticide and fungicide formula of RoseClear Ultra or RoseClear Ultra Gun! will control the three main rose diseases and see off the greenfly in one easy spray.
Tulips will continue to bloom through May but daffodils will have all finished flowering. If you remove the seed heads then the bulb will be able to divert all the energy from the leaf back into the bulb to form next year’s flowers. While any bulb is still in leaf it will pay dividends to feed the plant both over the leaves and around the roots with Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Plant Food applied through the Miracle-Gro Feeder. Avoid tying bulb leaves in a knot – this may look tidier but it does restrict active growth.
Plant out dahlia tubers in enriched soil. They are hungry and thirsty plants and benefit from a bucket of organic matter dug into each planting hole and a handful of Miracle-Gro All Purpose Continuous Release Plant Food dug into the soil surface after planting. If you position your stake while the planting hole is open you will avoid damaging any of the tuberous roots.
CLICK HERE TO BUY CONTAINERS & FLOWERPOTS
EXPERT GARDENING TIPIn damp weather you may need to protect the new plants in your flower border from slug and snail damage with an application of SlugClear Ultra. Apply in mild, damp conditions when slugs and snails are active. These pellets are effective and rainproof for up to 14 days.
LAWN CAREMost lawns struggle to survive summer weather and the wear and tear of games, entertaining, picnics and sunbathing. Children and animals can add an extra burden to an already stressed-out piece of grass, but you can build up the strength of the grass and the thickness of the turf by removing competition from weeds and feeding the lawn.
Regular mowing is a must as this is the time when grass is growing to its maximum capacity. While the grass is growing strongly help it to become thicker and greener with a dose of triple action lawn treatment. One application of EverGreen Complete will turn your grass into a beautiful richly coloured lawn in just 7 days. The slow release formula of EverGreen Complete will feed the lawn for months and thus help to produce a thicker lawn. At the same time this product will also control existing broad-leaved weeds such as dandelions, daisies and buttercups and control any moss that is present.
Application just couldn't be simpler. If you have an average-sized lawn of around 70 square metres (83 sq. yards) then the easy-to-use hand-held spreader is more than adequate for you. This unique spreader is quick and easy to use, treating this sized lawn in just a few minutes without measuring or weighing.
For people with larger lawns a range of bags is available to treat 200 sq.m (240 sq.yd) and 360 sq.m (432 sq.yd). To easily treat this sort of area a wheeled spreader offers many advantages. The EverGreen Easy Spreader + is an easy assembly wheeled lawn spreader that applies all EverGreen granular lawn products easily and evenly.
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 VEGETABLESTowards the middle of the month sow tender vegetables such as climbing French beans, runner beans, courgettes and marrows in pots of Miracle-Gro All Purpose Enriched Compost. At the same time prepare the soil where these tasty veg are to crop. Traditional gardeners usually grow climbing beans up bamboo canes either in a circular wigwam or along a straight trench. Whichever shape the soil needs to be enriched with organic matter to improve the structure and the water holding capacity for these crops. Dig out soil to a depth of 30cm (1ft) and incorporate organic matter such as well-rotted garden compost or bags of Levington Organic Blend Soil Conditioner. This product is completely peat-free and is especially useful for improving the drainage of clay soils and the water-holding capacity of light, sandy soils.
Watch out for caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly attacking any of your cabbage family crops such as broccoli, cauliflower and sprouts. At the first sign of attack spray your plants with BugClear Gun! for Fruit and Veg. Broad beans and some other early crops will also need checking for blackfly. Pinch out the tops of broad bean plants to deter the pest, but if they are already breeding under the leaves then a spray with BugClear Gun! for Fruit & Veg is advisable as early as possible. Food crops can be harvested the day after treatment if required.
Sweet corn is a favourite home-grown crop as it tastes especially sweet when freshly picked and eaten. Most kids love it and it is also a great adult vegetable when grilled on the barbecue. Sow seeds in individual 3 inch pots of Levington Multi-Purpose compost and keep them under a cloche, in the greenhouse or on the kitchen windowsill until all dangers of frost are over. Select a warm, sunny place in the garden that is sheltered from the wind and improve the soil with well rotted garden compost and a generous dressing of Miracle-Gro Growmore. Plant the seedlings about 45cm (18 inches) apart in a rectangular block rather than one straight row. The close proximity will help good germination from the wind-blown pollen.
Water and feed strawberries as they are flowering. A couple of feeds with Miracle-Gro Plant Food will ensure the plants produce an abundant crop. Don’t wait until the fruits are swelling as too much extra water at this stage will only reduce the flavour potential.
Cover all soft fruits with netting to protect them from birds, especially strawberries and redcurrants that always seem to be number one targets.
EXPERT GARDENING TIPBroad beans and some other early crops need checking for blackfly. Pinch out the tops of broad bean plants to deter the pest, but if they are already breeding under the leaves then a spray with BugClear Gun! for Fruit & Veg is advisable as early as possible. Crops listed on the product label can be picked the day after treatment.
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™ Gun!™ for Fruit & Veg contains pyrethrins. EverGreen® Complete contains MCPA, mecoprop-P and ferrous sulphate. FungusClear® Ultra and FungusClear® Ultra Gun!™ contain triticonazole. RoseClear® Ultra and RoseClear® Ultra Gun!™ contain triticonazole and acetamiprid. Fast Action Roundup RTU Weedkiller and Roundup Gel contain glyphosate. SlugClear Ultra contains metaldehyde. Weeedol Gun! Rootkill Plus contains glyphosate and pyraflufen ethyl. Products marked ®, ™ and Levington, Miracle-Gro, Gro-Bag and Flower Magic 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