Pretty pots and bountiful baskets

It is amazing what a difference you can make to any outdoor space with pots and baskets, regardless of whether you have a garden or not. I personally fill my patio full of different planters and baskets as the summer arrives and I have spent the last few months nurturing seedlings ready to plant out.

I am a firm believer that if you don’t have enough space to grow things in the ground then pots and baskets are a great way to bring any type of plant into your garden. I want to talk about how you can make your pots and baskets interesting, pretty and productive.

There are lots of different planter sizes, shapes and colours to choose from on the market, so you can pretty much buy the pots to suit your outdoor area. Don’t forget there are variations for windows if you don’t have a yard or patio area or if you live in a flat, and of course you can go for hanging baskets by your front or back doors. If money is tight why not make your own pots and planters out of old pallets which look great painted up and most companies are happy to give away pallets for free. I also like to use builders rubble buckets which come in some really funky colours, and they are a fraction of the price of bespoke planters (don’t forget to add drainage hole).

pots and basketsI like to plant my baskets and tubs with a striking mixture of flowers and veg plants (there is no reason why a tub should look glum). In my summer pots this year I will be growing lots of different veg including baby sweetcorn, dwarf beans, beetroots, salads and courgettes. The varieties I choose are all small so will grow quite well together in a large pot or container, and the leaf structures and varying growing habits really complement each other. In order to add plenty of colours to my pots I love to interplant flowers such as dwarf sweet peas, aubrietia, violas, nasturtiums and much more.

There is nothing better than picking fresh tomatoes so I will be growing some tumbling toms in my baskets, alongside, rocket, nasturtiums, violas and basil. The nasturtiums will trail, the violas provide colour and the basil, rocket and tomatoes will be handy to pick for the salad plate (chives and spring onions also make a nice alternative or strawberry plants and mint for a sweet treat).  Where possible I like to use flowers that are edible. My baskets are always colourful and useful, and different plants can be used to brighten up any wall.

When planting up either tubs or baskets you have to be mindful that they need watering and feeding regularly.  In my pots I use a good quality multipurpose compost with some slow release fertiliser and water retaining crystals to help hold in moisture. I have never gone for any of those fancy composts unless I am planting something on a more permanent basis such as a shrub or fruit bush. If you can get down to your local farm for some well rotted horse manure this will always enrich any tub.

There are a number of innovative pots and baskets that now have water canals built into them so this takes the strain off watering, but ordinarily I would water baskets daily regardless of weather and tubs every few days unless the weather is hot and then it would be every day. I find the best thing to keep food in pots is a tomato feed which contains all the right nutrients for flowers and fruits, however in recent years I have also made comfrey tea which has had great results and is free so double bonus.

So now I am at the point where my baskets and tubs are planned out and I have started to plant them up.  It is still a little early for them to be put outside in Manchester as the threat of frost is not gone until the end of May. Until they are ready to be safely put outside keep them in a cool shed or greenhouse over night.

As your plants grow and develop keep an eye out for pests and diseases such as aphids as they do like to feast on the succulent young plants. I find the best thing to use to get rid of most pests is a garlic spray or a weak solution of water and washing up liquid so no need to spend lots of money on expensive chemicals and these won’t hurt the bees and lady birds.

pots and baskets

I will bring you updates on my baskets throughout the summer and let you see the yields they have produced at the end of July and August.

Just remember you can grow anything in pots and most dwarf varieties in baskets, but be mindful that you need to water religiously and keep the food levels up as they get exhausted quickly. Keep an eye on them, keep them deadheaded and you will have lovely colour and tasty treats all summer long.

Happy gardening!

 

My name is Shaun Gagie and I am a keen gardener, living in a 1960s semi in Denton, Manchester with my partner John, dog Boo and 10 chickens. I was a contestant on the Big Allotment Challenge in 2014 and I am one of the gardening experts on BBC Radio Manchester on a Saturday morning. I like to blog about what is happening in my own garden at www.gagiesgarden.com.
Shaun Gagie
My name is Shaun Gagie and I am a keen gardener, living in a 1960s semi in Denton, Manchester with my partner John, dog Boo and 10 chickens. I was a contestant on the Big Allotment Challenge in 2014 and I am one of the gardening experts on BBC Radio Manchester on a Saturday morning. I like to blog about what is happening in my own garden at www.gagiesgarden.com.

How To Grow Potatoes

Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables to grow in your garden. You can grow potatoes either in the ground or you can grow them in potato bags or containers and it really couldn’t be easier with our expert advice on how to grow potatoes.

How to grow Potatoes

How to Plant Potatoes in the Ground?

Potato planting times depends on a variety of factors for example weather, soil and regional variations. However, our table below is a general guide on when to plant potatoes. When growing your own potatoes choose an open position in full sun on fertile, well drained soil. Avoid soil where potatoes have grown for two years in succession as this will increase the risk of disease. A slightly acidic soil is preferable but not essential as potatoes will tolerate a wide range of soils. When growing potatoes on more alkaline soils, apply sulphur to the top of the potato ridge after planting. Applying sulphur maximizes the yield and deters skin blemishes like Common Scab that are particularly troublesome in alkaline conditions.

How to grow potatoes

Harvesting

Lifting times will vary depending on the growing season, weather conditions at harvest time and the size of tuber you want. However the table above provides a rough guide for each crop type. Start to harvest first as ‘new potatoes’ when the plants begin to flower, approximately 10 weeks from planting. Tubers will generally become larger the longer their growing period.

How to grow potatoes

Maincrop varieties are usually left for at least two weeks after the leaves and haulms (stems) have withered, to allow the skins to set. Cut down the stems with secateurs to just above soil level as the leaves wither and yellow, or if they show signs of blight. After harvesting, leave the tubers on the soil surface for a few hours to dry and cure the skin. Once dry store them in paper or hessian sacks in a dark, cool but frost free place. Avoid storing in polythene bags as potatoes will ‘sweat’ and rot.

Second Cropping

In the UK, second cropping potatoes are best planted outdoors in early August and no later than the end of August. If planting in a protected environment (e.g. in a polytunnel or greenhouse) planting can be delayed by a week or so but must be planted by the end of the first week of September. Planting second cropping potatoes later than this is likely to produce disappointing results. There is no need to pre-chit the seed potatoes – this will happen quite naturally after planting. Second cropping potatoes can be lifted up to Christmas time. However, leaving them in the ground for this length of time does make them more susceptible to blight and pest attack (e.g. slugs, wireworm). To find out more about our second cropping potatoes view here.

Growing Potatoes in Bags and Containers

For more information on how to grow potatoes including those troublesome potato pests view our full guide. If you like information on how to grow sweet potatoes we have a guide for that also. If you have any further questions please post below and we will do our best to help you. Happy Gardening :)

Terri Overett
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.

How many plants do I need in a hanging basket or container?

How many plants do I need in a hanging basket or container?

It’s often difficult to judge how many plants to use per hanging basket or container. We’ve put together a table of our most popular bedding plants, showing how many you’ll need for the best display!

How many plants do I need in a hanging basket or container?

Planting up a hanging basket

Plant spacing

When looking at the number of plants to put in a hanging basket or in a pot you don’t need to follow the usual rules of plant spacing. The spacing normally quoted is designed to give plants the maximum amount of space to reach their full potential. However for a seasonal container display designed to flower for 4-6 months it isn’t necessary to follow these rules. You can use many more plug plants per hanging basket to create a billowing cascade of colour.

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How many plants do I need in a hanging basket or container?

Customer Doug Upson’s begonia ‘Apricot Shades Improved F1′ basket

A general rule of thumb when planting a hanging basket is to use one plant per inch of basket diameter – 12 plants per 30cm (12″) hanging basket.

The only exception to this is when you use strong-growing plants such as fuchsias and geraniums (pelargoniums). In this case it is best to only use 5 plants per 30cm (12″) hanging basket.

A 30cm (12″) patio container will comfortably accommodate about 6-8 plants, but fewer strong-growing plants.

Take a look at our table below to find out how many plants you will need for each of your containers.

Click here for more information about how to plant up hanging baskets, flower pouches® and containers.

Plant Flower Pouch® Eezee Hanging Basket 22cm (9″) basket 30cm (12″) basket 30cm (12″) patio container Flower Ball 3-tier Planter Eezee Patio Bag
Begonia (fibrous, e.g. Organdy) 10 10 6 10 8 24 20 10
Begonia (tuberous, e.g. Apricot Shades) 7 5 3 5 5 24 15 10
Bidens 10 10 5 7 5 24 20 10
Busy Lizzies 10 10 4 10 8 24 20 10
Sunpatiens n/a 8 n/a n/a 5 n/a 10 10
Carnation (trailing) 10 10 6 10 8 n/a 20 10
Fuchsia (upright) 5 10 3 5 5 24 15 10
Fuchsia (trailing and semi-trailing) 5 10 3 5 5 24 20 10
Geranium (bedding pelargoniums) 10 10 3 5 5 24 15 10
Geranium (trailing pelargoniums) 10 10 3 5 5 24 20 10
Lobelia 10 12 8 12 10 24 20 10
Petunia (trailing) 8 8 3 5 5 24 20 10
Sweet Pea (trailing) 10 12 5 12 10 24 20 10
Verbena (trailing, e.g. Peaches and Cream) 10 10 3 7 7 24 20 10

 

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

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