RHS Growing Fruit

Growing Fruit (Royal Horticultural Society's Encyclopaedia of Practical Gardening S.)

Harry Baker
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Planting Flower Baskets in summer and winter

For those who live in flats or detached homes, hanging baskets, flower pouches and planters are a great way to utilise the space in small gardens and spread greenery over places that might otherwise look quite dull. If you're keen to grow herbs, you can start a herb garden in the winter or add a splash of colour to your porch or windowsill. All you need to begin are the tools and know-how.

When should I plant hanging baskets?

Plants in wall troughs and hanging baskets are susceptible to frost, and unless you have a watertight greenhouse lurking in your back garden, it's best to plant seeds after the risk of frost has passed. If you have a relatively sheltered position in your garden for a flower pouch, you can start growing the seedlings in April and enjoy the flowers blooming early in the season, but remember to move the fragile young plants to warmer spaces at night to protect them from the cold.

Flower fountains with liners

Planters are lined with mesh (metal or plastic) and usually also with an additional sheet of plastic or hessian to retain the compost, soil, plants and importantly, water. You can buy planters and flower fountains with liners to reduce the amount of preparation needed before planting. It also means that you won't have to cut the material to fit the basket, although you might like to cut slits in the sides of the liner to accommodate trailing plants.

Choose your plants

The plants you choose will depend on the season - and it's possible to use perennial plants and enjoy winter growth as well. It's practical and satisfying to grow vegetables that you and your family can enjoy, and some of the best choices are vine plants that are grow successfully in smaller spaces, i.e. cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries or green beans. Depending on the depth of your planter or basket you can try root vegetables like carrots and radishes, yum!

How to fill a hanging basket

This is an important step - kind of like laying the foundation of a house. Multi-purpose compost is a good choice, but because hanging baskets are suspended in the air, they tend to dry out, and so it's a good idea to add some water-retaining gel crystals or perlite. Another tip is to add feed granules, which release nutrients and support your liquid feed or water.

Fill the basket with the compost-crystal-feed mix and gently firm it down. Carefully add the seedlings, taking care not to crush the roots but tease them out and add compost over them. Fill the basket but leave a 5cm gap below the rim. Finally, water and place your basket in a warm space until the plants take root.

Basket brackets for walls

There are many attractive heavy duty brackets available to hang your basket. Take care to choose a warm location, preferably south-facing, so that your plants receive plenty of sunshine. It's important never to let the basket dry out - so keep an eye on it and keep the water levels up. Happy gardening!

RHS New Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers

RHS New Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers

Edited by Christopher Brickell
Comprehensively written and researched by leading plant experts, this authoritative reference book includes many features that make plant selection and identification easy.The Plant Catalogue enables you to find the type of plant you are looking for quickly and easily. No previous knowledge of plants or botanical names is necessary: simply turn to the desired category, such as trees, shrubs or perennials, where you will find plants organized by size, season of interest and colour. Popular flowering plants, including azaleas, irises and orchids are featured in special sections.Whether you are looking for a shrub to grow in a container or a climber that will flourish in acid soil, the Plant Selector has the answer. Giving guidance on finding the ideal plant for a particular purpose or location, the Plant Selector will help you track down everything from fast-growing climbers and aromatic annuals to wind-resistant trees and shrubs for shady corners.
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