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?

 

Gardening, Planting, Plants, Stuart

What to plant in May

April’s been a good month for planting, but May’s where it’s at for summer planting preparation. We’ve already gone through May’s gardening jobs, but here we’re going to go into a bit more detail about what you need to get into the ground this month.

Flowers

A selection of summer flowers - zinnia, candytuft and nigella
Zinnia, Candytuft and Nigella

Almost all of these May-planting plants are available as annuals or perennials, so you can take your pick on a repeated colour theme or mix it up year after year. As there’s quite a few, we’ve split them out into warming hues through to cooler shades.

Discover our selection of summer bedding plants

Summer heat

Three summer flowers - nasturtium, snapdragon and poppiesNasturtiums, snapdragons and Californian poppies

Reds, yellows, oranges – like the rising or setting sun, these flowers will warm up any pot, planter or bed.

Zinnias are great for pollinators and are characterised with an explosion of colour, while antirrhinum (snapdragons) feature beautiful colour blends. Nasturtiums are the hottest of the lot with their bright shades, and Californian poppies have the occasional purple in there to mix it up.

Cooler days

Three summer flowers - verbeneas annual and perennial, and cosmos
Annual and Perennial Verbenas, and Cosmos

Heading towards pinks, purples and whites, these plants are a mix of evergreens, annuals and perennials.

Candytuft will stick around all year, though the pink and white flowers will only be about for the summer. Cosmos are annual and super easy to grow, bringing a daisy-like charm to your garden, while verbenas come in both perennial and annual varieties – the former leans purple and the latter runs from red through pinks and purples to white.

Summertime blues

Three summer flowers - scabiosa, nigella and cornflowers
Scabiosa, Nigella and Cornflowers

Ending on cool blues, purples and whites, these guys might suggest summer shade or a wander about the countryside.

Scabiosas can be reminiscent of thistles as they grow, bursting into lavender-like blooms through to September. Cornflowers are the origin of the well-known blue and a cottage garden favourite, and their hardy nature makes them nice and easy to grow. To finish, nigellas or ‘Love in a Mist’ are guaranteed to add character to your garden with their unique and striking flowers.

Shop our full range of flower seeds

Vegetables

peas, carrots and cabbage
Peas, colourful carrots and cabbage

There’s plenty of vegetable and herbs to get stuck into in May, handily grouped to make them easier to remember. It also means there’s a lot of similar pests to watch out for as they grow, so you may want to invest in a cover or netting for your precious plants.

Brassicas

brussels, cauliflower and broccoli
Broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts

May’s prime time to plant some bold-as brassicas, healthy cruciferous vegetables to fill up your plate later in the summer. All of the following brassicas are planted 40cm apart or further, and are harvestable when you like the look of them.

Did you know these were all originally the same plant (wild cabbage), cultivated over hundreds of years to have wildly different characteristics? For broccoli and cauliflower they focused on the flower buds at the top, brussel sprouts were little bumpy bits halfway up the stem (leaf buds), and cabbages are an extreme version of those.

That’s why they taste similar, and have similar growing conditions. And also why some people don’t like the taste of any of them. Fun!

Browse all brassicas

Root vegetables

beetroot, carrot, turnip
Beetroot, carrots and turnips

It’s a mixture of strong colours and whites in May root vegetables, leaning towards the sweeter side of things. Think ‘roastable’ and ‘salads’.

Beetroots are a great source of fiber and finger-staining colour, preferring a bit of shade as they grow before harvesting June to December. Carrots are either good for your eyes or part of an urban myth relating to radar, but either way you plant them in full sun and harvest all the way up to October.

For parsnips, keep them in the sun but earth up the crown if it appears above the soil, and for turnips put them in the sun and harvest after a month. For swedes, do pretty much exactly the same as turnips, but don’t confuse the two or your scottish friends will never forgive you.

#NeepsAreSwedes

Rummage through all root vegetables

Herbs

dill, coriander and chives
Chives, coriander and dill

Prep your herb garden in May to pack your summer with flavour. To remember which ones to plant, here’s a rhyme:

It’s time for chives to thrive,
Get ready for a coriander wonder.
Prepare a parsley party

Dill‘s here too

Dill likes to grow further apart that other herbs (30cm or so), while the others can go in a pot in sun or partial shade. Rule of thumb for harvesting is pretty much the same as the brassicas – when you like how they look, have at it. And just eat the leaves, not any flowers – dill can get a bit floral.

Have a look at herbs

Other

radish, chard, spring onion
Radish, rainbow chard and spring onion

It’s still spring, so spring onions are appropriately named for when to plant them – drill them 1.5cm deep and 5cm apart when they’ve sprouted a bit. Peas and beans go well in the sun, 10cm apart and sheltered from the wind, and remember to give them sticks to grow up.

Radishes are great for summer spiciness, so plant them now in a similar way to spring onions, ready to harvest after a couple of months. Rainbow chard rounds off the list, harvestable from June to December if planted now (15-30cm apart).

Shop our full range of vegetable seeds

A top tip for May

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Flowers, Gardening & Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Stuart

In our last post we talked about how you can turn your indoor spaces into zones free from stress. Now that we can meet up outside, it seems fitting to share our tips on getting that same calm feeling outdoors.

A Soothing Garden Oasis

man in yoga-like pose in front of tropical waterfall

Waterfalls optional

If you’ve got any garden space, whether green or paved or big or small, you can turn it into a stress-free oasis. Make sure your furniture (if you don’t prefer sitting on the floor) isn’t wobbly so you can rest undistracted, and surround yourself with some flowery colour and scents.

Lavender (mentioned in our indoor stress awareness post) is just as good outdoors as in, with the added benefit of bringing in healthy pollinators to watch and while away the hours with.

Three roses in a row...ses

Begging to be sniffed

April’s also prime rose-growing time, and it’s easier to come up from hard times smelling of roses if you’ve been sitting amongst them. Pots, flowerbeds and arbours can all be used to fill your air with rosy scents, with the added benefit (if you’ve got enough of them) of hiding you away from the world for a spell.

An oasis is best when it’s just for you after all! If you’re interested in not being overlooked in your garden, check out our guide.

Put Your Feet Up

Person with feet up on wooden bench, branch in corner

Though maybe not higher than your head

Comfortable furniture is key if you’re after the fresh air and de-stressing power of the outdoors. Recliner chairs, footstools and comfy cushions are all great ways to increase your outdoor comfort, but you’ll also need to consider where they go.

Keep your furniture off slopes so you don’t have to worry about sliding off, and stay away from wind traps (corners of fencing and walls) unless you live for the wind in your hair. Alternatively, a picnic blanket or similar will do the job if you’ve got a squishy lawn.

Baby on a blanket

Just like this

However you like to take a load off your feet, it doesn’t take much to do it outside in the sun.

Fountains and Features

Two water fountains, one steel and one faux wood

Sort of like a babbling brook, if brooks were steel and polyresin

Just like with de-stressing indoors, water features can bring a soothing constant to your garden space. A lot of outdoor water features are self-contained so you don’t need to dig a hole for them to go in, or if breaking a sweat helps you de-stress you can dig a pond and get a water feature in the pool.

The main thing to consider for a de-stressing feature is to think about sound or the visuals. If sound works best for you, look for a feature that drops the water some distance to get a splashing sound. If it’s the visual, you may want a feature with lights or a calm cascade.

man stood in front of a waterfall again

Waterfalls stil optional

However you prefer to keep the stresses of the world at bay, April’s the month to take stock of all those things that get you down to see where they can be overcome. The Stress Management Society has lots of tips and advice to help wherever you may be struggling, so check them out if you’d like more information on stress – its causes, effects, and how to help deal with it all.

Oasis Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Feet Photo by Ales Maze on Unsplash
Baby Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash 

Gardening, How To, Plants, Stuart

A tree on a hill in the snow

Every schoolchild’s dream is every gardener’s nightmare – waking up to a blanket of white snow in your garden. But it doesn’t need to be the death knell for your treasured plants. Act calmly and decisively and you can stave off the worst of it – here are our top five tips for beating the snow.

Prune damaged growth
Firm plants back in the ground
Shake snow off trees
Stake split stems together
Be patient

Prune Damaged Growth

Secateurs

It’s pruning time

Snow can be unforgiving to new growth, so act quickly to stop damage from spreading. Remove unsightly, damaged parts by cutting back to a healthy side shoot or bud. It might feel wrong trimming plants that have only been out for a few weeks, but needs must when the cold fronts drive!

If you haven’t pruned your roses yet now’s a good opportunity, as they appreciate a hard pruning in spring anyway.

Firm Plants Back In The Ground

Hand pressing lawn

You probably won’t need to push grass back in

If recently planted, severe frost can sometimes heave your shrubs out of the ground exposing their precious and vulnerable roots. Simply firm them back in the soil (not necessarily barehanded like the picture), and add a small layer of compost to improve the drainage.

This’ll help the soil warm up in spring, and protects them if the frost/snow returns.

Shake Snow Off Trees

Snow on Maple

Shake, shake shake: shake your branches

Frost- or cold-damaged blossom won’t product fruit. However, for those that are still yet to bloom you should shake the snow off to keep them safe. This is good to do for all trees, blossoming or not, as snow can weigh down the branches and cause them to break.

It’s also good to wipe the snow off your greenhouse, as it can prevent your beloved plants from getting their daily dose of sunlight. The weight and changing temperature of the snow can also cause cracks to appear in the glass.

Stake Together Split Stems

Hopefully it won’t have been cold enough to split your stems, but if you’re seeing any damage just stake/tape them back together to give them their best chance to heal.

Be Patient

woman meditating in field of...lettuce?

It’s stress awareness month, so don’t let a bit of snow send you into a frenzy. Go about your garden calmly, and let your plants heal in their own time once you’ve done your pruning and staking.

For further prevention, provide cover for your flowerbeds and bring vulnerable plants indoors ahead of time. Or until May, as April clearly can’t be trusted.

Snow Tree Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash
Secateurs Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Hand Photo by MIL-TECH PHARMA LTD on Unsplash
Meditating Photo by Mor Shani on Unsplash