Two Hour Gardening Project: Stage 20 Tubs and Container Gardening

We take time off to tell you about tubs. Maybe you’ll use them next year – it’s too late for this year, or maybe you had the sense to look ahead and find this page earlier. The time to plant tubs is when you put your bedding plants out. Trouble is, we’ve been so busy telling you many other things that will improve your garden once and forever, that this little item got left aside. After all, you have to replant your tubs every year. But the effect is stunning.

Needs list: 1 plant container (preferably unvarnished tub); three 4 ft canes; 1 bag growing mix; 1 bottle liquid plant feed; 1 pelargonium or 1 fuchsia; 4 trailing lobelia; 6 summer bedding begonia ; 1 bell-flower.

Time budget: 4 hours in 2 weeks

Mid December weather/soil

The shortest day of the year arrives before Christmas, and gardeners can take new heart as they start to see the days grow longer. The rawness of December weather keeps most gardeners indoors, giving them a good opportunity to catch up on homework, learning about bugs, weeds.

Flower of the Fortnight

The spring star flower (Ipheion uniflora) is either the most desirable of spring flowers or the most detestable of spring weeds depending on how much you like it and how much it likes you. Growing no more than 9 in. high, tufts of narrow strap-shaped blue-green leaves spring from white bulbs. Held high above these are the beautifully shaped blue star-like flowers, each with a white stripe down the middle of every petal. ‘Wisley Blue’ is much bluer than the common type, and there is a lovely pure white form as well. It needs a sunny place and well-drained soil, [fit likes you it will seed everywhere, so plant it where it can naturalize. Bulbs have long tap roots and are hard to eradicate.

Groundwork

Here are some suggestions for improving and feeding your soil. Relate your soil improvement and feeding programme to what you learned about your soil in Stage 16 and stage 17.

Top-dressing: these are plant foods you scatter on the surface of the soil; apply spring and autumn. Artificial fertilizers must be raked in. General purpose fertilizers: get one bag organic fertilizer containing a suitable NPK ratio for your soil; usually a dehydrated animal or poultry manure. Top dress the soil: the slow-release nutrients will become available to the plants over a long period. Or use bone meal.

Vegetables : one 28 lb. bag inorganic fertilizer, quick-acting. Top dress fortnightly spring through mid summer. Or use fish meal. Or liquid feed crops. Do not use all three.

Heavy clay: 1 bag soil conditioner, which helps break down the structure of heavy clays, makes them more friable, easier to work, easier for plants to grow in.

Acid soils, tired down soils: top dress with garden lime every 2 years; 1/2 lb. per yd2. Don’t overdo the lime if you want to grow acid-loving plants.

Project work: planting up a container; and elementary soil testing

Containers give you a chance to grow plants that otherwise you probably wouldn’t grow. Most of them are tender (plants that would be killed by frost), and all of them very very colourful. This is the best way of achieving a splash of colour on the patio. Take a container- a half barrel, a tub, even a wooden box – and make sure that it has plenty of drainage holes in the bottom. Place it on the patio. Raise it off the ground by setting four bricks under it. If you don’t do this all sorts of bugs -earwigs, lice and so on, will get into your container and feast on the roots of your precious plants. Cover the bottom of the container with 3 in. crocks, broken roof tiles, large pebbles for drainage. Half fill with soilless growing mix.

Keep pelargoniums and fuchsias in their pots, and place the pots so that their rims are 1 in. below the rim of the container. In-fill with soilless growing mix till this is level with the tops of the pots. Push in three 4 ft. canes round the centre pot. Plant 2 peat pots of home-grown seedlings of nasturtiums and/or Canary creeper at the foot of each cane. Lace twine round canes for these to climb.

Plant bedding begonias hard up against the peat pots containing the nasturtiums/Canary creeper. Plant blue lobelia and white bellflowers alternately round the edges. They will trail over the sides and largely hide the tub. Make all plants firm, then soak thoroughly. Never let the planting dry out.

Next, move some house pot plants outside. Here’s how to succeed with them. Take the plants, still in their pots, and put them into a container about twice the size of the one they’re growing in. Fill the gap between the inner and the outer container with soilless growing mix.

Next test your soil, see what its made of. Stir 2 tbsp garden soil into 1 jar tap water.

Keep improving it with moss peat.

24. August 2011 by admin
Categories: 2 Hour Garden, Gardening Ideas | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Two Hour Gardening Project: Stage 20 Tubs and Container Gardening

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