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Gardening Tips With The National Trust

Over the past few months many of us have fallen in love with our gardens and growing spaces. Unable to admire the summer blooms and vegetable patches at National Trust gardens, we’ve taken to creating our own green oases. And whilst public gardens and parks are opening back up and welcoming visitors in again, our own growing spaces will continue to be an important part of what we take out of lockdown, so our friends at the Trust are sharing their favourite tips to keep your garden looking its very best. We’ve selected a few of their tips for you here, but you can find loads more gardening advice, tutorials and Q&A’s from the National Trust here.

Growing your own veg

Spring and summer are busy times for vegetable growers, and with shopping not as easy as it once was, there's a lot of interest in growing vegetables in small gardens and make-shift containers. The good news is that many of the nation's favourite vegetables can be planted at this time of year including courgettes, spinach and peas. If you are new to gardening, the National Trust’s experts have some tips to get you started, and if you are a little more experienced, take a look at their advice on successional planting.

Tender veg such as French beans, runner beans, courgettes, sweetcorn and pumpkins can be planted in open ground in May. Tomatoes, chillies and peppers should have been started indoors. Now is also a great time to grow green veg, like spinach, kale, rocket and pea shoots in a raised vegetable bed.

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Successional planting

Successional sowing is a technique used to ensure a constant food supply by sowing seed little and often in batches. The first step is to consider how many lettuces, cabbages, radishes etc you eat per week and plan accordingly, adding a few extra for the inevitable slugs and snails! 

 

Short-lived plants that “bolt” (run to seed) are best sown every two weeks, particularly in warm weather. These include lettuce, rocket, radish, turnips and beetroot, which can be planted by a pinch of seed in a seed tray or directly in the ground. Cabbages (pointed, round and savoy) can be harvested every month in the year if you choose your varieties carefully. Vegetables such as leeks, parsnips, kale and broccoli will weather the harshest winters quite well and can be picked when needed, so successional sowing is less important. Meanwhile sweetcorn, runner beans and tomatoes need as much sunshine as possible so will need to go outside as soon as it is warm enough, and variety will determine cropping time.

How to plant without garden centres

With some garden centres closed during lockdown, and many people not wanting to take the risk of visiting those that are open, a lot of you may be wondering where to get a fresh supply of plants from. Luckily, spring is an ideal time to assess your flower borders, see where the gaps are, and “edit” where some plants are outstaying their welcome. The National Trust’s garden experts have some great advice for the devoted garden centre visitor.

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How to create more plants

Dig out a hardy plant with new leaves, such as geranium, astrantia or campanula, keeping as much of the original root ball attached as possible. Use two garden forks back-to-back to prise the roots apart, using a knife to cut through any tough bits.

Flower borders

If herbaceous perennials are elbowing out their neighbours, they can be split into smaller clumps and moved around to fill gaps elsewhere in the garden. Use well-growing plants, such as geraniums, again and again to avoid a ‘dotty’ appearance.

Get planting

Locate gaps in your garden and make a hole just bigger than the roots of the plant cutting you’re replanting. Improve the soil with compost if you have some, fill the hole with water and pop your plant in once most of that has drained away.

Cut back foliage

Where you can, cut back excess foliage to prevent your plants from drying out. This can also encourage flowers to bloom later in the season.

Caring for old potted plants

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Check on your pots

Now is a good time to look around the garden and rescue any plants that have been sitting in the same pots for too long. If left untended, they may get stressed and become prone to drying out.

Find them a new home

Plant them into gaps in the garden (even if you plan to move them again in autumn) or pot them up into fresh compost. With space to grow, they can put on new roots and will look all the better for it over summer.

Keep them watered

After our wet winter this year, there should still be plenty of moisture in the ground under the surface. However, it’s still important to water anything newly planted, especially if we enter a period of dry weather.

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