Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Perfect Planters

When I started a vegetable garden on my London balcony, planters and containers were an absolute godsend – on a concrete balcony, one simply HAS to have a good selection of planters and containers. Now that I have made the transition from London balcony to Peak District garden however, this does not mean that I no longer have any need for containers – far from it!
Planning a garden is an enjoyable experience. And containers really add a degree of flexibility, style and ease of use. Here’s a rundown of why I love using containers in the London Vegetable Garden.
From month to month (and even week to week in the peak summer season), plants take on a life of their own. A few neatly arranged pots can quickly become an amalgamated mass of unruly plants, whilst those suddenly flowering can clash with their surrounding neighbours. Containers and planters allow the gardener to move plants around with no interference to roots, allowing you to rearrange your garden and keep it interesting all summer, and year, round.
Say ‘container’ or ‘planter’, and many people instantly start thinking about cheap plastic containers obtained cheaply from garden centres or pound shops. But there exists a whole wealth of planters and containers that are stylish, beautifully made and really add an ambiance to the garden in their own right. Depending on style, a well-planted container can completely transform the look of the garden. Some of my favourite planters and containers can be found here. As shown from the pictures below, planters and containers come in all styles, shapes and sizes and can fit into any garden, adding class, style and make excellent features.

Garden rescue!
Like much of the UK, my garden has spent most of this summer under a blanket of dark grey cloud and rain. But the plants I have in containers have been salvaged due to their portability. As overhanging trees and bushes have grown, blocking out natural light, I have been able to move those plants in containers to new, sunny positions, rescuing tired tomatoes and miffed marigolds. Containers allow you to shift plants around according to the season, keeping plants in the best possible position for them to flourish.
In summary, planters and containers are a wonderful asset to the gardener, whether in a sprawling country garden, or on a small urban balcony. Combined with the right plants or flowers, a planter’s visual aesthetic can produce a stunning effect, adding colour, style and architectural lines to any garden.
Have any of you experimented with planters or containers? If so, we’d love to see your examples. Feel free to upload your photos on our Facebook page. For a great selection of timeless, classic planters and containers for your garden, I recommend the product range available at Garden Trading.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Growing Your Own – Getting Started


Growing your own is one of the most fashionable and rewarding activities that has swarmed the UK and it doesn’t matter if you have a large garden or just a balcony. There is a lot that you can cultivate in a few containers and below you will find advice on what pots you can grow in and the compost that is required to ensure that you always harvest healthy yields. 

Growing your own fruit and vegetables that are packed with vitamins and minerals will not only be well received by your body, but also that of your family. Having a supply of vegetables in containers allows you to eat fresh and enjoy a variety of flavours.

So what containers will I need?

It all depends on the yields you wish to cultivate. If salad leaves are at the top of your priority list, these plants can be grown in quite shallow containers. A 17cm deep and 30cm long container would suffice, but we would recommend that you have a trough that is measured 20cm wide, 60cm long and at least 17cm deep. 

The amount of containers that you would need also depends on the succession of crops you wish to obtain. For example, if you have two troughs you can grow two rows in one and then a couple of weeks later another two rows, ensuring that you’re never short of lettuce leaves over the course of the summer.

Where do I place my containers?

We recommend that you place your containers close to home as you will be more likely to use them and also for convenience.

How often do I need to water them?

A general rule of thumb is that the larger the container, the less often you will need to water. An even and uninterrupted water supply is one of the keys to growing you own veg.

What compost should I use when growing veg in containers?

The growing medium that you need to use can depend slightly on the size of your container, but if you’re not a perfectionist, this wouldn’t really matter. For smaller containers that will become the home for your lettuce and carrots for example, the cheapest compost you can find will suffice. 

For large containers or raised beds, a good multi-purpose compost or a loam-based compost will work wonders. However, please do be aware that these containers can take a lot to fill so to keep your container garden cost effective it may be best to bulk buy or use top soil.

Planning to become self sufficient is a big step and these are some of the first steps to take when growing vegetables successfully. From this point on all you need to do is plant up and ensure you follow the instructions that are on the back of the seed packs. 

Mr McGregor is a popular writer for Notcutts, a specialist garden centre who also enjoy meeting and lending a helping hand to their customers. For more tips on how to get started with growing your own have a look at their Garden Library and blog.


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