As GardenSIte's plant specialist I always keenly anticipate the HTA National Plant Show. This is my chance to visit nurseries, find out what's trending in the horticultural world and source new stock, all from under one roof.
Many of us have modest outside spaces but they needn't be unproductive and, as David Hall finds out, containers and planters are a brilliant way of growing vegetables and herbs.
While window boxes and planters are normally full of colourful flowers, they can easily be used to grow edible plants and herbs many of which are just as attractive in both texture and colour.
Regular watering and feeding is necessary and yields might not be so great but digging and weeding are easier as well as pest control.
The produce is also literally on your doorstep, adjacent to the kitchen and ready to put in the pan; beetroot, carrots, peas, potatoes, onions, salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers and chilllies together with many varieties of herbs can all be within picking distance.
Make sure the growing medium has good moisture retention but will not be affected by waterlogging. A soil based compost with loam and organic matter or a proprietary potting compost might be best. Most vegetables prefer a neutral pH.
Position the container in a sunny sheltered position, of course at different times of the year, the container can be moved to suit the conditions.
Your most important task will be watering daily and feeding with a liquid fertilizer about every ten days. Make sure there is access to a butt or tap, especially if you want to install an automatic watering system that will prove its worth when you are on holiday.
As long as the plants are kept moist with good drainage, are regularly fed and there is enough space for good root development, problems should be kept at a minimum and you'll be rewarded with a fine harvest.
With Christmas rapidly approaching, our New Oscott Garden Centre has just taken delivery of that most seasonal of plants – the Poinsettia. These are David Hall's tips on to how to keep these beautiful plants at their colourful best.
Our garden centre has been part of the local community for over 60 years, so when one of our partners, David Coton, received a request to donate a Christmas tree to a nearby hospice, he had no hesitation in helping them out.
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