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OUT IN THE GARDEN: A leg up for your baskets

It would be remiss of me not to mention the sad passing of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh last week.

Whatever political persuasion you are, you have to acknowledge the amazing work this man did for our Queen, our country and to the entire world. He will be sadly missed.

Hopefully, in the next few weeks the daily temperatures will increase to the levels where I’ll be brave enough to risk showing my legs to the sun. Unfortunately, the queue for masculine legs must have been a long one when I was in the womb and somehow fate decided the far shorter queue for skinny lily white legs was the better option for me.

Plug plants at Baytree (46184351)
Plug plants at Baytree (46184351)

With that in mind, I read through my emails to find a question which required indoor work. Fortunately enough, I’d been sent a question from Ben who resides near Holbeach and was looking for some advice on planting hanging baskets.

I told him that it’s still a little too early to plant out hanging baskets at the moment with summer flowers, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t grow our plants on in a greenhouse or bright window sill before planting out in May.

Summer bedding plug plants are ideal for this task because since they are, are inexpensive and can still be found in most garden centres. To begin with, you’ll need to mix some multi-purpose compost and perlite together. The aim is to create a loose, open, and free draining mix for your young plants to be transplanted into.

Gently remove the plug plants from their trays by pushing them out from the bottom - the blunt end of a pencil works really well for this. Once removed, give the roots of the plant a good misting of water with a handheld atomiser. Keep the plug plants upright when finished as you don’t want to damage their delicate stems, they are just babies after all.

Fill as many 9cm pots as you need with compost mix. If you’ve bought eight plants you’ll need eight 9cm pots and so on. Using a garden dibber - or any other tool you fancy - make a hole in the compost which is slightly larger than the plug itself.

The next stage is hold each plant by its root plug and gently tease the roots out. This will encourage the roots to spread out into the new soil. Be careful here not to damage the stem of the plant. Pop your plant into the hole and gently back fill the compost mix around the root system. Firm the compost down, but don’t be too aggressive.

This all sounds far more complicated than it actually is, but once you get started it really is a doddle. When all of your plants have been potted on give them a good watering using a fine rose in your watering can as then it won’t deluge the plants with water, or wash the compost away. Transfer your plants to either a greenhouse or windowsill.

They’ll have to live there for about 4-5 weeks. The nutrients in the compost should easily feed your plants.

I read that during the war ladies used to cover their legs in gravy browning to look like stockings. I wonder if I can do the same with multi-purpose compost and water?

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