With sizzling hot summer days already upon us and pandemic restrictions on travel abroad still a concern, most of us will be planning to spend a lot more time in our gardens over the coming weeks.
With this in mind, Rob Smith – allotment gardener and regular on Channel 4’s Packed Lunch – has shared his Top Ten Tips on how to get the most out of your garden this summer:
1. Get ready for summer by decluttering the shed, tidying the garage or sprucing up the garden and finally getting rid of all those broken or cracked plant pots, old bricks and other bits of garden waste. HIPPOBAGs are the responsible way of getting rid of garden rubbish with over 95% of your waste diverted from landfill; and don’t worry if you don’t think you’ll fill your HIPPOBAG straight away as you have up to 6 months to fill it!
2. Make sure you keep your potted plants and baskets well-watered in the warmer weather. Placing a large saucer under each pot will help reduce the need for watering and you can add water retaining crystals to baskets and troughs, saving you time and money, leaving you to enjoy the garden.
3. Sow tasty salad leaves little and often to keep you cropping home grown veg all summer; perfect for BBQ’s and alfresco dining. Try sprinkling mixed lettuce seeds into old buckets every 2-3 weeks, then within a month or so you’ll be harvesting sweet cut-and-come again leaves; it really is that easy!
4. If you’re growing veggies in a greenhouse, make sure to keep the doors and windows open as the temperatures rise, after all it can get hot in there and you don’t want your plants to scorch. Consider using shade netting to give your plants some protection from the sun in the height of summer.
5. If you’re growing tomatoes inside or outside, remember its best to water the soil at the base of the plant rather than watering over the leaves as this can encourage blight, which in turn will ruin your plants and your harvest. Removing leaves which cover the fruit will also encourage your toms to ripen and taste super sweet.
6. Any plant that fruits or flowers will benefit from a feed during summer. You don’t need to buy lots of specialist plant feeds; using a good quality tomato food will work on anything from tomatoes to cucumbers, through to strawberries and raspberries.
7. If you are growing flowers in the garden, be it dahlias, begonias, cosmos or anything in between, the more you dead-head (remove the old wilted flowers), the more they will flower! By doing this you are encouraging the plants to put energy into producing beautiful blooms rather than setting seed.
8. All gardeners end up with lots of old plastic plant pots after they have planted out their flowers or veg in the garden, so why not wash them, save them and re-use them next year when you sow your seeds? Instead of piles of pots, why not store them in a HIPPOBAG Midi Bag, it's the perfect size to put behind the shed or garage and its only £12.49, plus it folds up flat when not in use; this makes it great for storing stuff on the allotment too!
9. Annual weeds should be removed from your garden by hoeing or digging them up and adding them to your compost heap. However, if you have lots of problem weeds like nettles, dandelions or dock, why not put them in a HIPPOBAG to dry out so they won’t spread, then at the end of the summer you can add the desiccated weeds to the compost or simply book HIPPO to come and take the bag away, weeds and all! (Try the handy new HIPPO app for a really easy way to buy HIPPOBAGs and book collections.)
10. Courgettes are a great veg for hardened gardeners or newbies to have a go at. They’re quick and easy to grow, they crop by the bucketful and it can be griddled on the BBQ, made into courgette spaghetti, added to curries and pasta sauce and even made into chutneys and jams. Just remember to keep picking the fruit every couple of days or you’ll end up with a giant marrow; then again at least you’ll be ready for the village show if you grow a whopper!