Blog Series, Gardening, Planting, Plants, Stuart

What to Plant in August

What to Plant in August – we’d call it the eternal question, but it’s just one month of the year. Summer’s still here, just about, so there’s more sun loving plants to get into the ground before autumn rears its head. And fruit and veg to get ready for harvest in a few months’ time (though the fruit is more like a year and a few months).

If allotments are more your bag than the garden, check out our August Allotment post, otherwise let’s crack on with this month’s flowers and veg!

Flowers

Climbing roses

A climbing rose bush

If you’ve got visions of a rose-covered arbour or a flower-filled trellis, climbing roses are the way to go. They’ll take a bit of time to fill the space, but planting them now will give them their best chance when next spring rolls around.  Climbers bear flowers off mature wood, which makes maintenance easier than with many other roses. With larger flowers, nearly all cultivars are likely to repeat flower so their popularity is ever on the rise.

Dig it into a hole twice the size of the pot it came in, fill it with compost, and plant it in at the same depth as the pot was – no sense in burying it further. If you don’t see flowers this year, get ready for a petal explosion next summer.

Winter cherry blossom

winter cherry blossom

Everyone knows the beauty of a cherry blossom tree, and its a yearly moment of magic when the spring blossom falls and fills the air with a pinky-white petal snow. Nowadays you can also get cherry blossoms which flower in winter, so if you’d like to add some colour to your winter garden that isn’t dogwood or holly, you can plant a winter flowering cherry blossom and enjoy those blooms at a second or even third time of year. Add mulch, plant in full sun, don’t compress the soil and don’t overwater –   follow those simple tips and you’ll be blooming in no time [when the cherry blossom wants to of course].

Tropical fruit

Hardy Kiwi

Hardy kiwi fruit - red skinned

Growing with red skin to differentiate them from plain old brown kiwis, hardy kiwis can take the cooler temperatures and still produce fruit before the year ends. Set your eyes on an autumn fruit salad (though quite possible next year’s salad) and follow this guide on planting containerised trees.

Grapes

big blue grapes

Grapes like a south-facing wall, and plant them at least 3ft deep to keep them happy. The hardier the variety you choose the better it’ll survive the upcoming winter, so a variety like Boskoop Glory is a great starter grape.

Pineapple Guava

pineapple guava, whatever that means. It doesn't look anything like a pineapple

It doesn’t look anything like a pineapple, but in much the same way that a milkshake doesn’t look anything like a strawberry, the Pineapple Guava name’s in the taste. This tree fruits in late summer and has a pretty blossom too, so you can enjoy pineapple, guava and strawberry flavours when harvest time rolls around. Grow in a greenhouse if your area gets cold a lot, otherwise you can plant in a pot or sunny spot and it’ll grow happily without mush fuss.

Vegetables

Radishes

long radishes, red with white tips

Great little salad additions, radishes are some of the fastest-growing vegetables around and good to plant if you’d like some strongly flavoured veg all the way up to October. Sow straight into the ground in rows, add some compost (it’s rare that you shouldn’t), and space them 2.5cm apart about 2cm deep. Don’t water them too much, and you should be ready to harvest in a month and a half.

Spring onion

A pile of spring onions

The irony of planting ‘spring’ onions in August isn’t lost on us, but there are hardy varieties that don’t need all those April showers to keep them springing. Drill them 1.5cm deep and 5cm apart when they’ve sprouted a bit in a seed tray, then enjoy tasty cooking flavours in a month or two’s time. They’re capable of overwintering too, so you can plant them a little later then they’ll spring up (it all makes sense now) at the beginning of next year.

Green and red salad

green and red lettuce in the ground

You can still grow lettuce in August, with baby leaves available quickly for an impatient but still delicious salad. Sow seeds in full sun, 2cm deep and 90cm apart – they can grow pretty big after all! And cover it with netting to keep the birds and pests away,  birds love a seed and caterpillars, slugs and snails love leafy veg.

Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To, Planting, Plants

A-Guide-to-Planting-Strawberries

Easy to grow and relished by many, planting strawberries has always been a nostalgic part our English summers. Although they are popular all year round fruits, come summer (and especially Wimbledon) their popularity soars – with many gardeners scrambling to obtain potted strawberry plants where they can harvest the flavoursome fruits not long after. 

The wonderful thing about planting strawberries is that no outdoor space is too unworkable. They can be grown in hanging baskets, growing bags, pots,  and in your garden’s beds too. So if you are eager to begin growing your own strawberries, read on!

When to Plant Strawberries

When to plant strawberries will depend on the type of plant you have purchased:

  • Bare root strawberry plants should be planted in September.
  • Potted strawberries can be planted between April and July. 
  • Bare root runners are best planted in April.

How to Grow Strawberries

A-Guide-to-Planting-Strawberries

Strawberries are manageable and generally hassle free, so learning to grow them is a great activity for children. But first, whether you are planting them in the ground, or in a container, it is important to prepare their soil correctly. 

Growing Strawberries in the Ground

Strawberries require soil that’s rich in organic matter. You can ensure this by adding well-rotted garden compost or manure to the planting hole. Once this has been done, you can then apply some high potash general fertiliser over the top of the soil. 

While you initially cultivate the soil, look out for (and remove) any weeds that you see. Strawberry plants have shallow root systems, so they won’t stand much of a chance against a more vigorous weed! The last thing you would wish to do is end up using a herbicide, so inspect your strawberry patch once a day.

Each of your strawberry plants are best planted 30 – 45cm apart from one another. If you are working with rows, section them 75cm apart. The roots should be hidden just below the soil. Once settled into the ground, your strawberry plants will need generous waterings for the next few weeks while they establish. 

Growing Strawberries in Pots or Baskets

A-Guide-to-Planting-Strawberries

Planting strawberries in pots or hanging baskets is not only good if you are working with a smaller space, but additionally offers better protection from pests (such as slugs). Another benefit is that you can appreciate burgeoning floral interest right outside your home! 

Sporting cherry red blooms, Strawberry ‘Summer Breeze Cherry’ poses a unique take on the more traditional strawberry varieties (which are known for their white upright flowers). As such, we believe it to be an especially fitting addition to a hanging basket or pot, where its distinctive magenta blooms will gracefully cascade over the sides.

A-Guide-to-Planting-Strawberries

Both ornamental and delicious!

Pots and baskets should be no less than 15cm wide to accommodate a larger strawberry plant, but if you are working with smaller plants (such as our 9cm potted strawberries) you could fit in a few for both plentiful crops and blooms. 

If you are planting in a pot, add some gravel or broken crocks to the bottom as this will keep the soil free draining. Once planted, water frequently, and apply a tomato feed once every two weeks for a flourishing strawberry plant.

Bare Root Runners

Bare root strawberry runners are available in autumn and spring. Their planting requirements do not differ from planting potted strawberries into your garden. 

Edible Hanging Baskets?

If you are a more innovative gardener, you may be wondering whether you can safely grow strawberries with bedding plants in a basket or pot. The answer is yes, but we advise that planting them amongst other edible plants is the safest thing to do. Why not consider Nasturtium, Chrysanthemums, or Lavender as possible companions?

One thing to keep in mind is that strawberries (and tomatoes)  require more water than the average bedding plant. To get around this, opt for a sunny site so the soil can dry out more quickly. These fruiting plants are also more greedy when it comes to space, so avoid filling your basket with too many other plants – less is always more.

How Long Does it Take for Strawberries to Grow?

From the first leaves appearing, to the fruits becoming ripe for picking, we would typically say around three months. Nonetheless, a strawberry’s harvesting period will vary depending on its variety. Summer fruiting varieties fall into one of the three – early, mid, or late season cropping. While Strawberry ‘Cambridge’ is considered a mid-season variety, Strawberry ‘Elaina’ is more of a mid to late season variety. We recommend having one of each, so you can have a constant supply of strawberries that sees you through summer to autumn!

You can also buy ‘perpetual strawberries’ (or everbearing strawberries), which produce little flushes of smaller-sized strawberries from summer to autumn. 

When to Pick Strawberries

Once your strawberries are red all over, they are ready to be picked. Interestingly, the time of day you pick matters too – the warmest part of the day is most ideal as they will have the most delicious flavour!

Our Strawberries

Lovingly grown at our nursery in Hampshire, we offer a selection of 9cm strawberries that are perfect for your outdoor space, whatever the size. Why not check them out below?

 

Blog Series, Gardening, Planting, Stuart

What to Plant in July

New month, new(ish) plants – it’s time to continue our series of What to Plant. This month it’s July, it’s high summer, and that means getting in veg and flowers that live for being sun-drenched. Use the links below if you’d like to skip a section, or scroll on to find this month’s flora to plant!

If you’re working on an allotment, why not check out our July Allotment Jobs post from last year?

Flowers

A lot of the flowers this month are ones you might have seen already if you’ve been out on wooded or meadow walks. Or if you’ve sneaked a peek into your neighbours’ gardens, but we won’t judge. Foxgloves, forget-me-nots, delphiniums and more are on the planting cards, so we’ve pulled together their planting instructions to help your late summer and early autumn be one full of blooms.

Foxgloves

Colourful foxgloves

Foxgloves, also known as digitalis, are ideal for attracting pollinators with their colourful blooms and high-reaching stems. When they’re in bloom expect to see bees crawling right up inside the funnel-shaped flowers – great if you’re trying to snap a busy bee photo. Take care though – they’re pretty toxic, so keep the kids clear.

Plant them anywhere from full sun to full shade, depending on your individual variety’s requirements, in moist and well-drained soil. You might not get flowers in year one planting this late in the year, but if that’s the case year two will blow your socks off. And plant more in the second year to make year three a garden foxglove fiesta.

Delphiniums

Delphiniums all in a row

Pretty perennials in the buttercup family, delphiniums come in a variety of shades of blue, pink, purple and white. Their flowers spike up year after year, tall like foxgloves with pastel-green leaves to complement the flower colours. It’s another one where the prettiness comes with a price – it’ll cause discomfort if ingested and the sap can irritate the skin.

They can grow quite vigorously, so if you’re planting more than one place them one to three feet apart to give them space to flourish. Add lots of compost to keep their soil fertile, keep it moist, and put them in full sun or part shade. In autumn, when the foliage dies down, cut them right back to the ground.

Forget-me-nots

Forget-me-nots

While these can be planted at this time of year, they likely won’t flower until next April – but a lot of gardening is about planning ahead, so there’s nothing new there! Famously in the white-blue spectrum, forget-me-nots are great for cooler colours to supplement your usual spring blooms. The leaves will stay throughout the year though.

There are a couple of different varieties, split between pathside clumps and pondside perennials. If you’ve got a water variety, plant it as close as you can to a pond or submerged in shallow water. If it’s a flowerbed variety, sprinkle the seeds and cover with compost, keeping them warm as the year progresses. With any luck flowers will appear in year two.

Wallflowers

Also called erysimum, wallflowers are spring-flowering, sweet-scented semi-evergreens that are nice and low-maintenance, great for rock gardens and flowerbeds. They like full sun and well-drained soil, so plant this year for a fiery addition to your spring collection next year.

Vegetables

July’s the beginning of bountiful harvests, but that’s not what we’re here for. Pick the veg that looks ready to go, then replace it with these seeds and sprouts to prepare for an awesome autumn of vegetables.

Peas

Hurst Green Shaft Peas

Sow these in well-cultivated, fertile soil, or start them off in pots before planting out in full sun when they’ve grown a bit. Whichever method you choose, place the seeds 2.5cm deep and keep them 5cm apart, in rows between 30-60cm apart. Keep mice away from the seeds – they love a tasty pea!

Cabbage

Cabbage

Plant your spring cabbages (that’s when they’ll be ready) 30-40cm apart if you’ve got plenty of space to spare in your main vegetable patch. Or start them a little closer in a seed bed if you’re prepared to move them to the patch after a couple of months have passed and more space has opened up post-harvest.

If you’ve been growing winter cabbages, now’s the time to transplant and move them to their final growing positions.

Fennel

Herby fennel

A hardy perennial herb with a strong aroma and flavour, or it’s a Florence variety with a swollen bulb that can be used as a vegetable. The two types have very different growing instructions, so make sure you know which one you’ve got before you start growing.

If it’s the herby type, plant it where you’re going to keep it forever because it doesn’t cope well with being moved from its cosy soil. Either that or plant it in a pot, which you can move to your heart’s content. Put it somewhere sunny in well-draining soil and look forward to a harvest in 3-4 months.

If it’s the Florence variety, they’re similar in that they don’t like being disturbed once they’ve started growing so make your planting choices wisely. The seeds should go into well-prepared soil that’s nice and warm, and put them in rows barely under the soil surface and 30cm apart. Keep them moist, and harvest after 3-4 months. It’s the bulbs you’re after, though the leaves and seeds can be used in cooking too.

Last chance: beetroot

Beetroot bottom

We covered this one last month, and July is your last chance to get beetroot in the ground before it’ll be too cold when it comes to harvest them. If you don’t want to follow the link, plant three seeds at a time 10cm apart and 2.5cm deep in rows 30cm apart.

Fathers' Day, Gardening, Pest Advice, Stuart

Dad’s Top Gardening Tips

It’s Father’s Day, we’re a gardening specialist, so naturally we’re going to do a blog post about Dad’s best gardening tips.

We’ve reached out to our Instagram followers, we’ve reached out to our colleagues, and now we’ve collected our Primrose community’s fathers’ tips right here so you can learn something new – or want to find out who in our team had fathers with sadistic gardening styles.

Don’t poison slugs – prep them for predators

A Slug
Uh-oh

If you find you’re collecting slugs on your plants, don’t poison them or salt them – put them in a copper tape or wool pellet pen and let the birds and hedgehogs go crazy for them. It’s a bug buffet!

Plant 3 runner beans per cane

Runner beans

This one comes from @allotment_in_the_shire  with a touch of folksy wisdom. One’s for you, one’s for the slugs (or the bug buffet), and one’s for adverse weather. It’s like saving for a rainy day, except with beans instead of rubbish pennies.

Patience, patience and plenty of watering

Ornate clock in the garden
Patience-reminding ornate clocks optional

Even though it’s father’s day making this handle a bit off-brand, this tip came from @allmumstalk . Patience is a virtue, and that’s as true in the garden as it is when one of the kids drops a brick on your foot. Gardening is done on the plants’ time rather than yours, but they still need your attention – don’t let them dry out!

 Always garden with a beer in hand

Garden beer
As if he isn’t drinking straight from the bottle

It’s a little bit stereotypical, but what are dads for if not being totally predictable and unpredictable in equal measure. Socka, sandals, a brazen disregard for the possibilities of skin cancer, and a beer in hand – gardening glory. Bonus points if you also fall asleep in your chair while doing this, then afterwards claim you weren’t asleep.

From the same dad, ‘plant lots of purple plants to attract bees’. One of these tips is much more useful than the other, but the beer thing’s more eye-catching.

Don’t touch that thorny rose

Someone holding a rose
“What did I *just* say? Go wash your hands.”

The other half of the tip, ‘I can’t have blood on my plants’, might be situation-specific, but the importance of avoiding rose-based sepsis can’t be understated. Pre-Alexander Fleming that kind of thing could spell the end of your [gardening] days, but you should still take care around spiky things to save a trip to the doc’s. Thanks for the pearl of wisdom Dad.

Slug Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash
Garden clock photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash
Garden beer photo by Jon Parry on Unsplash
Rose photo by Meghan Schiereck on Unsplash