Ruth shows you how to get your potted African lilies ready for summer

After several years of half-hearted flowering, last summer our agapanthus did us proud. We have three clumps in pots and two in the borders and they all flowered amazingly, possibly because they have finally matured and are starting to feel a little constrained in their containers, which is when they flower their best.

They are starting to grow again well, their strappy leaves poking up from the top of their pots and soil and I really hope they repeat the show this summer.

Agapanthus come in many shades of blue, and white, and grow well in pots and borders

Agapanthus hail from South Africa but are quite happy in the UK as long as they have fertile, free-draining soils and a sheltered spot. Evergreen varieties are generally nore tender than the ones that lose their leaves, but all should come through a British winter given enough protection.

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The border plants were generously mulched to see them through winter and have been fed and watered to get them going.

Remove the straw mulch from the pots

This past weekend I turned my attentions to the container plants and treated them in exactly the same way as I dealt with our potted lilies. They spent the winter against the sheltering wall of the house, with a generous topping of straw to protect them from the worst of the weather.

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Luckily we had a mild, if wet, winter so their pots remain sound and they didn’t need extra swaddling with fleece or bubblewrap.

I started by removing the protective straw that I’d used to mulch the top of their pots, the removed the top layer of compost, added a granular fertiliser and topdressed with fresh compost.

Water plants well after feeding and topdressing

Then the pots were watered well and set somewhere sheltered in the sun and raised up on feet, ready for the summer.

 

Hooray, our veggie seeds have arrived

Great excitement – our veggie seeds have arrived from Mr Fothergill’s so I need to look lively and get sowing, especially the tomatoes.

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My hope is that if sown later than the rest of the seeds we will have a prolonged fruiting season and a good harvest well into autumn (not to mention a fair few green tomatoes for chutney, which is just as well as supplies are starting to run thin!)

Unless the toms are successful there might be a chutney shortage!

The tomato seeds I sowed a few weeks ago grew well and have now been potted on, ready to be hardened off in preparation for their move outside.

We don’t grow a massive number of crops as we don’t have masses of room, so we concentrate on things we eat the most – onions, leeks, shallots, tomatoes, beans, peas, garlic and soft fruit.

Fingers crossed this will be a bumper year, which will almost be a consolation for cancelling this summer’s trip to Spain!

 

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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