Baskets are easy and packed with brilliant options, says Ruth

Planting up baskets, windowboxes and containers is a surefire way of bringing bright, breezy, easy colour and interest to the garden.

As we get back into the ‘new normal’, potting up bedding plants for the summer ahead is a fantastic way of lifting the spirits and restoring a feeling of normality to the garden – even if we are doing so a little later than usual.

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I am concentrating on hanging baskets this week because they are easy to put together and add another dimension to the garden – they encourage you to look up instead of down or across. They are also perfect for smaller gardens where space is limited.

Hang your basket somewhere sunny and sheltered

There are so many varieties: wire frames that you pad out with a fibre lining or moss collected from the garden lawn, wicker baskets and weatherproof synthetic ones designed to look natural.

Some are planted at the top, others can have inserts cut into their sides to make space for attractive trailing plants. This is easy enough to do, but to simplify it further, wrap the roots of each plant in Clingfilm before threading them through the cut holes, removing the plastic immediately afterwards.

 

Why not plant a basket with a difference with trailing tomatoes, edible flowers and herbs? (Picture: Alamy)

The only limit to what goes into your basket is your imagination (though obviously large trees and shrubs are best avoided…) If you fancy a change, fill them with trailing cherry tomatoes such as ‘Tumbling Tom’, salads, herbs, nasturtiums and other edible plants.

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Once your basket is planted up and watered it is ready to go outside. However, many border plants are tender so if late frosts are still happening, hang it by day and move it to the greenhouse by night (or store it in the greenhouse, standing on a bucket, for a couple more weeks). It is also worth storing your planted baskets undercover if stormy weather is forecast, to avoid damage to the plants.

The best compost to use is a proprietary container compost or water control compost that is lightweight and has added nutrients, as a lot of plants in a small space will soon gobble up all the goodness.

Add water storing granules to compost so plants get a steady release of moisture

If you can’t get hold of this, use multipurpose and add a granular fertiliser and moisture-releasing granules, which are widely available from garden centres and online. The granules help give plants a consistent amount of moisture, but are not an alternative to watering, which may need doing most days (or every day during very dry, hot spells).

Here’s a quick guide to planting up a basket that has holes cut in the sides for trailing plants.

Stand your basket on a pot or bucket to raise it up to an accessible height, keep it steady and make life easier!

Stand your plants in water so they get a good pre-planting drink, and start adding compost to the basket. Balancing it on a pot or bucket keeps the basket steady and also means you don’t have to bend down so far to fill it.

Wrap the roots of trailing plants in Clingfilm to ‘post’ through basket holes. Don’t forget to remove the plastic afterwards though!

Plant the low-down trailing varieties first. Wrapping the roots in Clingfilm makes them easier to ‘post’ through the holes. Remove the plastic afterwards.

Place the top plants at the same depth as their football and then add more compost around them

Pack your plants in, setting the top ones at the dame depth as their rootball.

After planting, water the basket well so that the soil is wet through the the roots get a good drink

After everything is planted, water well, let it drain then water again until the compost is wet through.

Baskets and pots need feeding fortnightly. A liquid tomato feed added to their water is ideal

Around 4-6 weeks after planting, start feeding your basket every couple of weeks with high potassium tomato food to encourage season-long flowering, and don’t forget to deadhead the plants regularly.

 

We are here for you

Although many people are coping well with self-isolation, others are really struggling and feeling completely forgotten and alone.

Here at AG we are doing our best to keep connected to our readers though the magazine, this website and also through social media.

Our gardening ‘agony uncle’John Negus is also still working hard. Send him your problems and questions, with pictures if you can, and he will get back to you with an answer withing 24 hours, as he has been doing for decades. Contact him using the AG email address at: amateurgardening@ti-media.com

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We already have thriving Facebook page but are also on Twitter and Instagram. These sites are a brilliant way of chatting to people, sharing news, information, pictures and just saying hello –we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Best of all, as gardeners are generally lovely folk, more interested in plants, hedgehogs, tea and cake than political shenanigans and point-scoring, so the chat is friendly and welcoming.

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So please drop by, follow us, ‘like’our posts and say hello –we will reply as soon as we can. Happy gardening!