John Hosford, The Week-End Garden Centre. 086-4426450
As June arrives, all half-hardy plants, both ornamental and edible, can be planted into their summer outdoor quarters. Check they have all been well hardened off and acclimatised prior to planting.
Bedding plants provide invaluable colour all summer long until the first frosts. Add plenty of organic material such as well-composted compost, well rotten farmyard manure or stable manure. In the absence of these choose Gee-up. Bedding plants should be well watered after planting and protect against slugs especially if damp weather prevails. Choose Marigolds and Calendulas for sunny aspects. French Marigolds are planted at 15-20 cm apart with the larger African or hybrid varieties being planted at 25cm apart. Begonias are a good choice for shaded beds or borders.
Hanging Baskets and Window Boxes
There is still time to plant up hanging baskets, window boxes, patio containers and tubs. All old, spent compost should be removed prior to planting. Check the chains of used hanging baskets. Make sure they are intact and capable of supporting your new season display. Replace if not in a good and durable condition.
Choose the following for your containers: Bacopa — a free flowering plant in shades of white or lavender, this is a very reliable plant often flowering into late October or early November.
Begonias — come in different varieties — the semperflorens type flower all summer. They have glossy green or copper leaves. Flower colours come in shades of red, pink and white. They are very reliable, weather resistant and are often in flower well into November. Double Begonias such as the Non-Stop varieties are superb in tubs, beds or borders. There is a bright range of colours including white, pinks, reds, oranges, yellows and salmons. Trailing Begonias come in a similar bright range of colours. They are eye-catching and make dramatic, head turning displays that flower right through summer and well into late autumn. Begonias are an ideal choice for shaded aspects.
Cosmos — ideal for large tubs. Colours include pure white, pink shades and red and gold. Provide some support with twiggy sticks such as beech twigs at planting time to provide support as the plants develop.
Dahlias —a good choice for large tubs and containers. They are long flowering and come in a bright range of vibrant colours.
Fuchsias — a great plant for all sorts of containers. The trailing varieties are a classic choice in hanging baskets and window boxes. Bush upright varieties are ideal as centerpieces in containers. Fuchsias need to be kept well watered throughout the growing season. Feed weekly with a liquid Tomato fertiliser. Fuchsias will often continue in flower until November and will tolerate shade.
Geraniums — an essential component and ingredient of summer. They come in a wide array of colours from pure whites, pinks, bicolours to the most vibrant reds and oranges. Geraniums or Pelargoniums are best in full sun. Keep deadheading frequently. Feed weekly with a liquid Tomato food.
It is now safe to plant tomatoes outdoors in a sunny, sheltered location. Stake and secure well with stout, robust stakes. Tie in as growth develops with green garden twine. Allow 45cm spacings between each plant. You can mulch with straw to suppress weed and help to produce nice, clean fruits.
Runner beans, French beans, Courgettes, Cucumbers, Sweet Corn and Pumpkins that have been started off under protection may now be planted in their final outdoor quarters. Remember to plant Sweet Corn in squares to facilitate pollination. Sweet Corn is wind pollinated and planting in squares assists the pollination process.
Plant out cabbage for late summer, autumn and winter maturity. Plant valuable winter maturing members of the cabbage family such as Savoy cabbage, Brocolli, Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Cauliflower.
Leeks are another valuable vegetable to plant for winter maturity.