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OUT IN THE GARDEN: Looking after summer plants

It’s often said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and in the main I agree with that statement, being partial to a chocolate covered hobnob or two myself.

However, I draw the line at offal-based meatballs. I am of course referring to faggots.

As a child, I remember waiting patiently for my father to return home from work so that we could all sit around the table and enjoy a meal together.

Plants such as geraniums may need protecting from the cold.
Plants such as geraniums may need protecting from the cold.

Now, whether it’s just a coincidence or not, I always seem to recall that when Emmerdale Farm was on (and I going back to the classic Emmerdale days of Annie Sugden, Amos Brearly and Mr Wilks) we always seemed to have said faggots.

My father would lap them up and I would do everything I could to keep them away from my mouth, eventually having to concede defeat when my mum would force me to eat them. I’m sure there are laws regarding preventing child cruelty now.

For the past 32 years I have managed to dodge having to ever eat another faggot... that was until this evening when I had to pop round to my aunty’s house to help her with her summer bedding plants.

Like many people, she had visited her local garden centre and purchased a fine selection of summer bedding plants and because, as in previous years, she had planted them out, she had done the same this year. Unfortunately, some of them where now not looking their best.

The spring temperatures this year – especially at night – have been colder than in the previous years and these tender summer plants have not fared to well.

I explained to my aunt that we would need to treat them with care for the next few weeks and at night we should cover the plants that are already in the garden with some garden fleece just to provide some insulation.

As for her other plants that she had not yet planted out, they could be kept in their pots and placed outside in a sunny spot during the day and then brought back inside at the end of the day as the temperatures fall.

It’s the same with hanging baskets.Leave them out during the day and either fleece them or bring them inside overnight.

What we are in effect doing is hardening off these summer plants.

Now you’ll find a fantastic selection of summer bedding plants pretty much everywhere this month but what you really need is great advice and that’s what you’ll get at Baytree, I said to my aunt.

Fear not as once we approach the middle of May, the temperatures should be high enough during the day and throughout the night for your bedding plants to take hold, put their roots down and begin their summer show of colour.

For those people reading this who are concerned about buying their bedding plants now, please don’t be.

Choose the flowers and plants that you like and when you get them home just keep them all together in a shallow cardboard box; it makes it so much easier when you’re taking them in or out.

My aunt lives on her own so she asked me if I’d like to come in and stay for tea: “Emmerdale’s about to start and I’ve cooked faggots. They’re your favourite, your wife says.”

Someone’s in big trouble when I get home!

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