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.

Gardening, Planting

What To Plant In June

With the weather finally warmer, and the bees bustling away, now’s the time to do some June planting. There’s still other June jobs to do, but if planting is your focus then you’ve come to the right place! If you’ve not done your brassicas yet – get cracking. But if you’re ahead of the game, read on for what else to plant in June.

June (Sun) Flowers

4 Sunflowers in pots on a windowsill

You can still plant the flowers we talked about in May, but one of the biggest new ones for June is sunflowers. Great for growing with the kids, or to feed the birds once the seeds are ready, there’s handful of varieties to experiment with. 

Giant Single sunflowers are the most classic kind, where they’ll produce one single flower for each seed you plant. This makes them excellent for adding some standalone focal points to your garden. If you’re after heaps of yellow blooms, look for Hallo seeds which form multiple sunny flowers per plant.

What-to-plant-in-June

Did you know that sunflowers don’t have to be yellow? While still on the same side of the colour wheel, Sunburst seeds are perfect for embracing some more fiery tones – where you can expect to see shades of red, orange, and even pink! 

June Vegetables

What-to-plant-in-June

Hopefully you’re all brassica’d out by now, so we won’t retread that ground (though if you still want the tips head to this section of our last post). Now we’re moving onto celeriac, courgette, cucumbers and some other vegetables that don’t start with C.

The Cs: Celeriac, Courgette and Cucumber

Celeriac stalks, a man holding courgettes and a pile of cucumbers

Celeriac Planting Tips

Celeriac needs rich, moisture-retentive soil and loves a sunny spot. Water generously, and keep an eye on the forecast so you can provide a nourishing drink ahead of any drought. Look out for any slugs or snails as the seedlings grow, the telltale signs include a glistening trail around the plant or on their leaves. 

Courgette Planting Tips

With any luck you already started your courgettes in a seed tray or propagator, and with the chance of frost now gone, it’s time to plant them out. Give them plenty of space (nearly a metre between each plant) and keep them moist but not overly wet as they’re susceptible to rot. If you didn’t prep them before now, there’s still a handful of courgette plugs available, but they won’t stay on the shelves for long!

Cucumber Planting Tips

Cucumbers are grown in almost exactly the same way, but you need to look out for the difference between indoor and outdoor varieties. The smooth ones tend to be indoors, while the bumpy ones are outdoors. The latter will also like a bit of acclimatisation rather than being plonked straight into the patch. For a few days, harden them off by putting them outside in a pot in the day and bringing them indoors each night. 

Nip off the male flowers when you see them (which are simply a flower), and let the female ones grow into fruit (they will resemble a miniature cucumber growing).

How to Grow Beetroot from Seed

Beetroot seeds can be sown throughout June – we suggest sowing some in early June and more at the end of the month. This will provide a steady supply of crops that will see you through autumn! The wonderful thing about growing beetroot is that, unlike other vegetables, they can be sown directly into your garden’s beds. This makes them a good choice for the beginner gardener (or anyone who is feeling a little lazy…we won’t judge). 

Before you sow, make sure your chosen site has fertile, well-drained soil. Add plenty of well-rotted compost or other organic matter, and rake over every square metre with a handful of Growmore. Don’t worry if you don’t have any of this, as all-purpose fertiliser will still do fine. 

Try to sow three seeds at a time: 

  • 10cm (4”) apart
  • 2.5cm (1”) deep
  • Organised in rows that are 30cm (12”) apart 

Once each seedling has reached about an inch in height, you can now thin them out. Try to leave one for each four inches of space with the strongest plant remaining. 

You will find that your beetroot plants won’t need too much watering – just make sure that their soil doesn’t dry out completely. If they’re growing at a slower rate than you were hoping, supplement with a high nitrogen fertiliser and water in. 

Extra Tips – Leeks, Pumpkins and Sweetcorn

  • Plant your  leeks in little drilled holes, preferably in a nice and neat row.
  • Pumpkins should be started off in a pot, but when planting out, separate them by 2  – 3m .
  • Plant sweetcorn in blocks so they can protect each other from the wind. Still do what you can to protect them however, like using fencing/screening, and digging in lots of compost before planting the seedlings.
Birds, Gardening Year, Planting, Scott, Watering, Weeding

June Gardening Jobs

In June we have the longest days of the year in the UK, which means more sun and more growing time for your garden plants. You can achieve a beautiful abundant outdoors in June if properly managed and planned. Be wary, the extra hours of light will also be helping weeds, so it’s important to keep on top of things to enjoy the best of what June has to offer your garden. 

General

garden lawn

  • Water your lawn
    • An inch of water a week on your grass will be enough to keep it from going brown. Deep watering once a week is much better than regular watering every day.
  • Control weeds 
    • Use a handheld fork to remove individual weeds from the root.
  • Plant summer beds 
    • Get your summer bedding plants into the soil so they can take advantage of the extra hours of light.
  • Check and water 
    • Check the soil around your plants regularly, digging your finger into the soil to see if there is moisture underneath. Water accordingly when the soil appears too dry. 

Plants

summer bedding

  • Protect from pests 
    • Most aphids can be dealt with using a spray bottle filled with a simple solution of water and a little washing-up liquid. This will deal with greenfly and aphids without damaging your plants. 
  • Plant out summer bedding 
    • Fill your flower beds and borders for a colourful display. Discover our selection of summer bedding plants. 
  • Grow sunflowers 
    • Now is a great time to grow sunflowers from seed; a fun project for getting the kids involved with the outdoors. 
  • Sow Nigella seeds 
    • Also known as love-in-a-mist, these unusual looking flowers can fill an area of your garden with charming blue whilst providing pollen for bees and butterflies.
  • Sow Nasturtium seeds 
    • These colourful plants are fast-growing and will quickly fill any gaps you have in your bedding. They can also be trained up trellises and arbours to provide interest at different heights. 

Animals

Blue Tit on a branch

  • Top up birdbaths 
    • Keep your birdbath topped up to provide a place to drink, wash and cool down. For birds, not your family
  • Top up bird tables 
    • This time of year most birds will be collecting bugs for their young (a bonus for pest control), but bird tables and feeders are still needed for a quick energy top-up for hard-working bird parents.
  • Avoid trimming hedges 
    • Be careful when trimming hedges as birds can be nesting inside.
  • Allow some weeds to flourish
    • Letting a small part of your lawn to grow wild will be incredibly beneficial for all sorts of wildlife. It can provide a habitat for insects which in turn will support the growth of birds. Just be sure to mark it separate from the rest of your garden to keep it in check! 

What June gardening jobs have you been up to this month? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Scott at PrimroseScott Roberts was a copywriter making content for the Primrose site and blog. Nowadays he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.