Seasonal Gardening Tips

June:

Its British Tomato Week and we’ve gathered a few basic tips to get you hooked on tomato growing. Although they need regular attention they are one of the most rewarding plants, providing you with fruit all through summer.

British Tomato Week

The more roots your tomato plants have, the stronger they will be. A great tip is cutting your grow bag in half vertically and standing it on its ends. This way you’ll have deeper soil for your tomato plants to grow, but still get all the benefits of optimal soil conditions and preventing the water from draining too fast. If you don’t have room for grow bags, try them in hanging baskets as most tomato plants like to naturally hang and trail.

 

Tomatoes love potassium, but don’t start feeding them until your first flowers have appeared. Our current favourite is Westland’s Big Tom. This new feed promises you’ll get the juiciest tomatoes, with a formula full of extra strength nutrients and enriched with seaweed.

 

Deciding how often to water your plants can be a hard task to master. They’ll need to be moist, but you don’t want to flood the roots. Get them watered first thing in the morning and possibly in the evening if it has been a hot day. Don’t worry if they begin to droop when the sun is at it’s peak, they’ll usually perk up by sun-down – if they don’t they’re asking for water.

 

Make sure you’re leaving vents and doors open to allow pollination. Think about planting ‘Perfect for Pollinator’ plants elsewhere in your garden to really increase your butterfly and bee count. If you’re struggling you can help pollination buy lightly shaking your plants to mimic the movement of pollinating insects.

 

Once your fruit is ready for picking, don’t be tempted to store in the refrigerator as you won’t be able to experience their optimum flavour! Cold will stop their ripening process, so your best leaving your tomatoes out in a covered bowl to increase their juicy sweetness. Just keep an eye on any ripening too fast or they will spoil the others around them.

 

May:

It can be quite daunting hunting through the many different types of lawn care and seed in the garden centre, but if you’re just looking to improve that neglected green patch in your garden, here are some easy tips to get going. Either get stuck in with a whole new lawn, or try some of our products that will fill bare patches and make your grass more durable.

 

When applying lawn seed for a new lawn the soil needs to be cleaned from any debris and weeds. Dig over the soil to make sure any lumps are broken up and firmed before levelling it with a rake. Mix up the seeds in the box and sprinkle at the rate of 30g per square meter. Finally, lightly rake in to the surface

 

After sowing. firm it by walking on it – for best results use roller. Use a fine hosed watering can or sprinkler for watering and make sure to provide adequate moisture, daily. If it’s a really hot day (we can only hope in the coming months!) water after the sun has gone down to prevent your grass being singed and turning brown.

 

Mow for first time when it reaches 5-8cm. After 8 weeks use 3 Day Green to perfect your lawn.

 

Before using Aftercut ‘3 Day Green’ to your lawn, ensure your soil is moist and your grass is dry. For best application use 35g per square meter (if you’re having any trouble with deciding how much product you need to buy, many of the boxes also give measurements in car parking spaces). This simple application will leave your lawn greener, healthier and harder wearing as it will supress weeds and moss.

 

-Ilmars, Assistant Manager, Dunbar Garden Centre

April:

Plant trees, shrubs and fruit trees now so that their roots will be ready to grow when the ground begins to warm up, and provide them with a slow release fertiliser. Although hardy through most of the winter, top fruit and soft fruit blossoms will need protecting from late frost. Cover them during the night with horticultural fleece, using canes to keep the material from touching the blossoms and make sure to remove during the day, so as not to hinder pollinators. Take care of your fruit plants now and you’ll reap the benefits of jam making ingredients through the summer – prices start at £1.99 for strawberries, though to £7 for a bush.

 

Now that they have finished flowering, shrubs such as Camellia and Forsythia can be lifted and moved provided the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. Divide clump forming perennials, such as Hostas and Primulas and remove any dead foliage, ready for new growth. Winter flowering heathers can also be cut back to a compact shape – however, if your heather is looking woody and leggy, replacing it would be a better option as they will struggle to look their best again (they generally have a lifespan of about 10 years).

 

Tie in new stems on climbers and climbing roses horizontally – this will allow for more like to reach the plant so multiple new flowering shoots to grow. Check for old and woody canes that produced little last year and cut them off.

 

Don’t forget housekeeping such as cleaning your greenhouses and growing frames ready for the growing season. If you’re limited in the garden, the Gardman Perma-tunnel with PVC cover is compact with no extra space required.

 

– Stew, Planteria & Nursery, Plantsplus Garden Centre

March:

Seeds always make me excited. Looking at the array of colourful packets, all with hidden promise, I find it hard not to get too carried away. The great thing about growing your own is that you can choose what you want to try, instead of relying on the supermarket varieties. It gives you a chance to get adventurous both with vegetables and flowers. You are in charge.

 

When growing seeds the golden rule is to read the packet. This will give you the information you need such as germination time, distance apart and when you can grow outdoors, but remember we are in Scotland! Seeds require four things to germinate, temperature, water, oxygen and some require light. Generally, seeds need at least 12 degrees to germinate. All seeds have their optimum temperature range and it’s useful to know. To generate more heat, there are things we can do such as using a propagator or seed tray inside on a windowsill or greenhouse. A cloche can help outside, but it is the soil temperature that you need to check. Just remember that seeds require air circulation to help prevent dampening off and once germinated turn the seed tray or pot daily to prevent the seedlings growing lopsided.

 

A fine seed and cutting compost is best to use and always label your pot or tray before you sow. Water from underneath with a tray. This helps prevent washing your seeds to one area and when germinated reduces dampening off. Never leave your seed trays in water. Let them drain to stop them becoming waterlogged.

Easy vegetables to grow are peas and beans and for flowers, sunflowers and poppies. You can grow in pots. Be aware of the depth of soil they will provide or choose a variety to suit. Royal Chantenay 3 is a type of carrot with a smaller root size, ideal for a child to pull out easily, wash and eat. My favourite pots this year belong to the Elho Green Basics range, created using recycled plastic. Nice and deep, raised or for the ground, they have a cloche style top to get you going early.

 

Sow now, there is no excuse!

 

– Jayne, Planteria Manager, Dunbar Garden Centre