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.

Gardening, Watering

Your garden runs on water. Flowers need it, ponds need it, and water features need it. But how do you keep your garden supplied and avoid racking up big water bills? Store rainwater.  

The Benefit Of Storing Rainwater

Why store rainwater? 

Control your own supply

Unpredictable weather, especially in the UK, can make it hard to always have water when you need it. Being able to store rainwater throughout the year means you can control your own supply. You won’t have to rely on the tap or be restricted by hosepipe bans in the summer when water companies may struggle to supply. Hotter summers are only going to become more likely as we move further into the climate emergency, so storing rainwater is a great way to keep your garden irrigated.  

Save money on water bills

By watering your garden from the tap you can add a large amount of excess water to your bill. This need not be the case if you are able to store rainwater for your garden and get independence from the tap. 

Why is rainwater better than tap? 

Tap water is rainwater that has been treated to make it safe for drinking. The same processes that make water safe to drink however also remove many benefits that water has for our plants.

Benefits of Storing Rainwater

  1. Rainwater is 100% soft water. It’s free from salts and chemicals that are found in drinking water. The salts in tap water can build up in your soil and are tough on the roots of plants and affect their growth. Rainwater doesn’t have this effect and will create a better growing environment for your plants 
  2. Rainwater is slightly acidic – most organically grown plants prefer slightly acidic soil with pH levels between 5.5 and 6.5 which is slightly on the acidic side. Luckily rainwater fits into this range, making it ideal for almost any plant you want to grow, almost as if nature intended it that way.  
  3. Stored rainwater contains some organic matter – If collected from your rooftop or greenhouse guttering,  rainwater will contain traces of organic material. This will enrich the water with nutrients and improve your soil similarly to how fertilizer does
  4. Rain contains nitrates—  Nitrogen is one of the three key nutrients that plants need to thrive. It is necessary for the development of lush foliage, but it’s not usually absorbable by plants. Unless broken down into nitrates which they can only absorb from the soil, so watering with nitrate-rich water is key to lush growth 

How to store rainwater 

Collecting and storing rainwater is as simple as diverting water from your guttering to a tank or waterbutt. How you do this is up to you, but there are some common tactics: 

Divert water from your downpipe – If your waterbutt isn’t directly under an outflow from your downpipe, then consider attaching a diverter to your downpipe, or fix guttering to your greenhouse or shed and divert it. However you choose to divert water it is definitely worth doing, and waterbutts come in all shapes, sizes and designs which means you are sure to find something to fit into your garden. 

 

Birds, Gardening Year, Planting, Scott, Watering, Weeding

In June you will often get the longest days of the year, 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 to the plant. 
  • 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: 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 such 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. 
  • 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 parents as they do this.
  • 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. I can provide a habitat for insects which in turn will support the growth of birds. 

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

Scott at PrimroseScott Roberts is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk 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.

 

Decoration, Flowers, Gardening, How To, Planting, Plants, Watering

How to Choose and Care for Bedding Plants

Bedding plants are a wonderful way to add liveliness to your garden and make it your own. They can transform beds with their differing colours, and will help support our precious pollinators. With so many bedding plants to choose from, you may feel unsure of where to begin; read on for all of the advice you need for choosing and caring for your bedding plants.

What is a Bedding Plant?

A bedding plant can be an annual, biennial, or tender perennial, that is planted into a flower bed to build a seasonal arrangement. After a bedding plant’s season of interest has ended, they will likely be replaced by another plant, and put away or discarded. 

Bedding plants will happily grow in hanging baskets, pots, and raised beds. They are therefore suitable for all forms of outdoor space, ranging from a small balcony, to vast grounds.  

How do I Choose the Right Bedding Plant?

Before identifying the best bedding plants for your garden, pay close attention to your chosen location, and perhaps ask the following questions: 

  • How many hours of direct sun does the location receive per day?
  • Are there deciduous trees that might limit sunlight come spring?
  • What is the state of the soil? Is it damp? Are there lots of stones?

Our guide below will help you decide what degree of shade your location receives:

Preparing your Soil

If you are planting into your garden’s beds, carefully rake through the soil to remove stones and large clods. This will make sure that evaporation isn’t prevented, and a good amount of moisture is kept.

Whether you are planting in pots, raised beds, baskets, or directly into a flower bed, you should always opt for multi-purpose compost. Multi-purpose compost will form a nutrient rich environment for a range of bedding plants, and will also absorb and retain moisture.

What Colours Should I Choose?

Before deciding which colour scheme to embrace, consider how intricate you want your display to be. Mostly done professionally, carpet bedding requires a large range of shades to be planted closely together, however, a simple hanging basket will look beautiful with as little as one variety. For a flower bed, we recommend that you choose four varieties for each season.

Cool Colour Schemes

How to Choose and Care for Bedding Plants

If you wish to evoke a tranquil atmosphere, light blue, lilac, pastel yellow, and white are excellent for doing so. Paler Petunia varieties, such as ‘Blue Vein’ or ‘Beautiful French Vanilla’, can feature subtle, darker markings, which can help break up your colour scheme, without drawing focus away from other plants.

Warm Colour Schemes

How to Choose and Care for Bedding Plants

For a bold colour scheme, choose shades that lie opposite to one another on the colour wheel. Possible pairings include purple and yellow, red and green, and blue and orange. Presenting trailing, funnel-shaped blooms, Surfinias are available in an array of colours, so will make an unfailing choice for your garden.

Should I Buy Plug Plants or Seeds?

Seeds and plug plants each come with their positives and negatives. Seeds can be considerably cheaper than plug plants, yet they are harder to grow. They require more time and care, and unfortunately germination isn’t guaranteed. 

Unlike seeds, plug plants can be expensive; this particularly applies to larger plants, as their roots are more established. However, plug plants can fill a flower bed with pretty blooms within a matter of weeks; making them a convenient option. 

How do I Grow Bedding Plants from Seed?

To successfully grow bedding plants from seed, you will need 10cm pots, peat-free compost, bedding seeds of your choosing, and vermiculite or finely sieved compost.

  • Fill each pot with your compost, and delicately pat it down.
  • Sow your seeds over the compost, ensuring that they are distanced equally. 
  • Apply a layer of finely sieved compost or vermiculite. This will provide gentle cover for your seeds.
  • Label your pots so you can cater to any unique requirements that a variety might have. 
  • Once each pot has had a nourishing drink, place them into a heated propagator to allow germination.
  • When seedlings have developed, prick out those of the largest size, and re-plant into individual containers.

How do I Grow Potted Bedding Plants?

If the risk of frost has passed, larger plugs can be planted straight into your garden. To ensure continued growing, smaller plug plants should be re-planted into containers or pots. For this you will need a pencil, multi-purpose compost, perlite, a dibber, and 7- 8cm pots. 

  • To remove your bedding plants from their containers, carefully push them upwards from their base with a pencil.
  • Fill 7 – 8cm pots with a mix of multi-purpose compost and perlite.
  • Employing a dibber, make a hole in each pot that slightly exceeds the size of your plants.
  • Taking great care, tease out your plants’ roots, and then place them into their holes.

How do I Care for my Bedding Plants?

  • Watering: If your bedding plants are in pots or baskets, they will benefit from daily watering. Even on a rainy day, this advice still applies; a bedding plant’s foliage can provide impressive shelter. For flower beds, a weekly drink will be sufficient. 
  • Deadheading: Any flowers that appear spent should be removed from their base. This will stop your plant from wasting energy by producing seeds. 
  • Flower feed: Supplement one watering a week with a potassium-rich feed. Most composts contain a finite amount of food, so we recommend that you start using feed a month after they were planted out.