Gardening, Gary, Grow Your Own, How To, Plants, Watering

 

Most of your plants need regular watering to survive, and the hotter it gets the more water they need. Watering big gardens and allotments can become a chore that takes time away from your other garden maintenance. Irrigation has been used to water large areas since the ancient Egyptians dug channels through their fields to divert river water. Luckily, you have a few more options available to you beyond diverting rivers. 

Irrigation types 

Irrigation works by supplying controlled amounts of water to your plants at set times, and there are a lot of ways you can do this. The method that is right for you will depend on how much sun your garden gets and if your plants have similar or different watering requirements

 

Sprinklers 

 

Easy to install and simple to maintain, the sprinkler system replicates rainfall by supplying water from above the plant. This is an easy way to water a large garden and if you get a simple lawn sprinkler can be one of the cheapest. There are advantages and disadvantages to a sprinkler system, and its usefulness will depend on your need: 

 

Advantages Disadvantages 
Covers a large areaCan cause overwatering
Can be automatedProne to disruption from wind
Can be used anywhereSome systems can be expensive to install
Low maintenanceNot the best system if you have different watering requirements

Soaker hose

 

These hoses are made of porous materials and release small amounts of water directly into the soil. More often used in vegetable patches and under hedges, this method of above-ground irrigation might be the best option for you if you want to conserve water. 

AdvantagesDisadvantages 
Conserves water Requires regular maintenance
Conserves soilTime-consuming initial installation 
Can be automated Low output
Waters soil directlyLimited coverage 

Drip Line Irrigation

 

Drip line irrigation is similar to a soaker hose but allows you more control over how much certain parts of your garden get watered. These systems can be placed at ground level or put over your plants if a more advanced line and nozzle system are used making it a good irrigation system for hanging baskets.

Advantages Disadvantages 
Conserves waterTime-consuming set up
Adjustable output Can be prone to clogging 
Long lifespanSlower than other systems 
Can be automated More advanced systems can have a big setup cost

 

Self-watering containers

 

These specialized containers are a great solution to keeping your plants watered if you are away for a short trip. These pots  have an upper pot that holds the soil and plant, while a lower reservoir holds the water and feeds it to the soil. Usually, these pots hold enough water for a few days, depending on the weather and evaporation rate – all you need to do is refill the reservoir. 

Tree bags 

Trees and shrubs need slow, deep watering to become established. Tree watering bags are put around the base of the tree and filled with water where they will slowly release it into the soil surrounding the rootball. They are an inexpensive and water-saving way of establishing 

Automate your system 

 

If you are going on holiday, are away a lot or want to spend time on other gardening jobs then automating your watering is one of the best things you can do. Setting up a basic automated system is simple and can be done in a few steps, all you need is a timer that attaches to your outdoor tap – this can be mains or solar-powered.

  1. Make sure your hose pipes and sprinklers are set up so you have total coverage of your garden 
  2. Attach your timer or regulator to your water source and set the times
  3. Connect everything together with
  4. Do a test run 
  5. Enjoy

 

Once you have the right irrigation set up you will find yourself with much more time to enjoy your garden and get the rest of your jobs done, making this a must-do job for the serious gardener.

Allotment, Gardening, Grow Your Own, Organic, Planting, Vegetables

July is the first month of the year where you get a really bountiful harvest. Loads of fruit and veg are ready to harvest this month, and there’s even more ready to be planted. Here is our at a glance guide to your allotment this month.

harvest of vegetables 

Harvesting 

  • Aubergines
  • Beetroot
  • Broad beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Chillies and peppers
  • Courgettes
  • Florence fennel
  • French beans
  • Garlic
  • Globe artichokes
  • Kohl rabi
  • Leaf beet
  • Marrows
  • Onions
  • Oriental mustards
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Rhubarb
  • Runner beans
  • Shallots
  • Spinach
  • Turnips
  • Celery
  • Chicory
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuces
  • Radishes
  • Rocket
  • Salad leaves
  • Spring onions

Sowing

  • Peas
  • Cabbage
  • Fennel 
  • Kohlrabi
  • Last Beetroot 

Planting

  • Spinach 
  • Leeks
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower 
  • Sprouting Broccoli 
  • Endives
  • Chickory 
  • Spring onions 

General Jobs

  • Weed regularly
  •  Mulch to conserve moisture
  • Feed tomatoes and peppers
  • Net against birds
  • Pinch out tomato shoots

Pests and Diseases

Aphids  – spraying your brassicas with diluted washing up liquid will deter them from landing on your crops. You can buy insecticides if you prefer, including a fatty acid soap to spray on the plants.

Carrot fly –   a particular problem between May and September when female flies lay their eggs the best defence to cover plants with horticultural fleece or place two-foot high barriers around the plants.

Cabbage root fly– attacking the roots of brassicas, these flies can cause a lot of damage to your plants. Female flies lay the eggs on the surface of the soil next to the stem of the plant. Place a piece of carpet (or cardboard or fleece) around the base of the plant to create a collar, this will stop the flies from laying their eggs on the soil. 

 

Allotment, Gary, Grow Your Own, Herbs, Insects, Pest Control, Planting, Vegetables

June is an important month for the allotment or home grower – the risk of frost is now gone and the days are getting longer and hotter, meaning now is peak growing season for a lot of plants and seedlings. Here’s what’s going on this month: 

Harvesting 

Harvest beetroot

You will be able to lift your early potatoes towards the end of the month and start harvesting soft fruits as soon as they have ripened.  It’s also time to start harvesting

  • Beetroot
  • Broad beans
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Early peas
  •  Lettuce
  •  Rhubarb
  •  spring onions
  •  Radish
  •  Spinach

Sowing and Planting

prepare your garden soil

Now is the time to start sowing seeds for: 

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbages
  • Cauliflowers
  •  Celeriac
  •  Courgettes
  •  Outdoor cucumbers
  •  French and runner beans
  •  Leeks
  •  Pumpkins
  •  Sweetcorn

Remember that all plants are different, so always follow the instructions on the packet. Outdoor tomatoes can now be planted into their final position, and you can start successional sowings of :

  • Beetroot
  • Kohl rabi
  •  Lettuce 
  •  Winter cabbage 

General

Summer

  • Feed Tomatoes  
  • Protect Fruit 
  • Hoe Weeds 
  • Train in climbing beans 
  •  Put in supports for peas.
  •  Top dress Asparagus them with soil or fertilizer ready for next year
  • Keep plants growing under glass well watered

Pests and Diseases

Aphids  – spraying your brassicas with diluted washing up liquid will deter them from landing on your crops. You can buy insecticides if you prefer, including a fatty acid soap to spray on the plants.

Carrot fly –   a particular problem between May and September when female flies lay their eggs the best defence to cover plants with horticultural fleece or place two-foot high barriers around the plants.

Cabbage root fly– attacking the roots of brassicas, these flies can cause a lot of damage to your plants. Female flies lay the eggs on the surface of the soil next to the stem of the plant. Place a piece of carpet (or cardboard or fleece) around the base of the plant to create a collar, this will stop the flies from laying their eggs on the soil. 

Alice, Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To

Growing your own vegetables is not only a fun and rewarding pastime, but it provides you with a crop of tasty, fresh, chemical-free produce for your kitchen. But if you don’t have a large garden or an allotment on hand, never fear. Most varieties can be grown in containers, so even if you only have a window box or a small patio area at your disposal, growing your own is still an option. Pots and containers are great because they allow flexibility, you have control over the soil type, and they can look great on a balcony, patio, or placed in a border on a plinth. So read our guide and find out how to grow vegetables in containers.

how to grow vegetables in containers

Choose your containers

Any garden centre should have a good variety of pots and planters to choose from. However, any container with some drainage and an opening can be used to grow plants. Barrels, recycled buckets, washing up bowls, dustbins, and even an old pair of boots can be used with success. Hanging baskets and window boxes can also be a great option for smaller vegetable plants and herbs.

The important thing is to make sure there will be enough space for the plant to grow. The size required will depend on the variety of vegetable, but most will need a pot with a depth and diameter of at least 45cm (18in), however smaller varieties such as spinach and lettuce can be grown in smaller containers. 

You must also make sure your container has a drainage hole. If it does not already have one, drill a hole (or many) at least half an inch wide into the bottom. If your pots are kept inside or on a balcony, place a tray underneath to catch the drips. 

Add soil

A good, peat-free potting compost should be sufficient to grow your vegetables. However, you could also mix in leafmould, garden compost, and horticultural grit to ensure drainage. Do not use soil from previous crops as this can spread infections. Fill the containers up to one or two inches below the rim. You can also supplement with a weekly liquid feed, but do not make the mixture richer or add in too much at once. Broken pieces of pot, pebbles, or polystyrene chips can be added into the bottom or larger pots to prevent compost falling through the drainage holes. 

Plant your vegetables

There are three methods of growing your own vegetables in containers. More hardy varieties such as beans, beetroot, carrots, and radishes can be sown directly into an outdoor container. Sow the seeds as directed on the packet, however not all the seeds will germinate, so you can plant more than you need, then thin once the seedlings have two pairs of leaves. Shop our vegetable seed collection for a variety of quality produce. 

Half-hardy or tender vegetables such as cauliflower, lettuce, aubergine, peppers, and tomatoes need to be planted indoors. Try your kitchen windowsill, or your greenhouse if you have one. You can use a seed tray, small pots, or recycled yoghurt pots filled with compost to grow the seedings, then transport outside to larger containers in early summer. Sow according to the packet instructions, then thin once the seedings have two pairs of leaves. 

You can also purchase vegetable plug plants from a garden centre. Dig out a space in the container soil, then set in in the plants at the same level as they were growing in the pot they came in, apart from tomato plants where you can remove the lower leaves and plant them deeper into the soil. 

Water

Once you have planted your seeds or plug plants, water gently but thoroughly, then water every few days to get your seedlings established. However, if you are using small pots indoors, take care not to overwater as the soil can turn mouldy. 

After the seedlings are established, give them a good watering once a week. Watering thoroughly once a week is better than a light watering every day, as light watering does not penetrate the soil deeply which encourages roots to grow to the surface where they can dry out. 

If you are often away, an irrigation system can be a great way to make sure your plants stay hydrated. These have individual lines going into each container from a ring hose, and drip water slowly around the roots of each plant to avoid evaporation or splashing. 

Watch out for pests and disease

Plants grown in a container can be more vulnerable to pests and diseases. Take care not to overfeed, as this can produce a lush growth that is a magnet for aphids, slugs, and snails. Make sure to remove any weeds as they appear, and watch out for signs of insects or damage from disease, and remove or treat. Beer traps, copper tape or a pesticide can deter unwanted pests. Check out our guide to natural slug repellants.

Harvest

Start harvesting your crops as soon as they reach a size where you can eat them. Most vegetable plants are most productive when you harvest early and often, and letting plants “go to seed” can cause a drop in yields. 

Now for the fun part- enjoy the fruits of your labour! Cook up a feast in the kitchen, or perhaps gift produce to your friends or neighbours. Often, home-grown vegetables are tastier than their supermarket counterparts as the soil tends to have more nutrients and they are not genetically modified for a longer shelf life. So enjoy the bounty of your efforts and spread the word about the joy of home-growing!

Check out our full guide to how to grow vegetables here.

Which vegetables have you been growing in containers? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!