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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Container gardening in Ireland, including Annual Bedding Plants

Summer bedding plants, making your bed in May.

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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 11:13 am    Post subject: Summer bedding plants, making your bed in May. Reply with quote

Summer bedding plants, making your bed in May.
by GPI

Well, we are deep into late spring now and summer is just around the corner. Garden centres are beginning to swell with summer bedding plants, ideal for planting over the next few weeks, as we look forward to mid-summer sunshine (fingers crossed).

Have you a piece of ground in your garden that you would like to jazz up? If so, annual bedding plants are hard to beat for the colour and scent filled lift they can give to areas of high summer traffic. Examples of these areas include beds outside of front and back doors, strips alongside the patio, and the surrounds of your favourite summer sunning spot.

Wherever you decide to plant, try to select the sunniest location possible, as making a flowerbed in a shady location will severely limit your flower choices. Believe me, it's best not battle nature and force sun-loving bedding plants such as Petunias to grow in an area that gets a lot of shade. Generally, a south or west facing bed is required to avoid ending up with stringy non-flowering specimens.

. Petunias love sun, photo / picture / image.

Just like the need to select the correct position for your bedding plants, the shape of this area is also worth giving quite some thought to as well. For example, go gentle on the curves, we all like a curving border, but please avoid a very fussy serpentine shape. Whoever mows your lawn will thank you for this as well.

When you come close to deciding on how your border should look, you can use a long length of hosepipe or heavy rope to mark out this shape on the ground. This method allows you to adjust away until you achieve a comfortable shape, then you can mark the ground with line marker spray or simply by scratching with a stick. Follow this by spraying off or digging out and disposing of any existing grass and weeds.

Organic matter.
Most new garden beds and borders benefit from additional organic material being added to it and dug in. This is especially true of the flower bed/border. So to begin, dig over the ground thoroughly with a fork and remove all traces of perennial weeds and large stones, leave the small stones as they aid drainage and help to regulate the soils temperature (mother natures radiators).

Dig or till in lots of organic matter to improve the soil for your annuals at this stage as well. Choose from the following source of organic matter... garden compost, leaf mould, well-rotted farmyard manure, spent mushroom compost, garden centre soil enricher. An ideal situation would be to have half you soil made up of organic matter, a great reserve of plant food.

If your soil is very heavy, sticky or poorly drained, I would advise adding horticultural grit at this stage as well. Available in all good garden centres, a good quantity of this grit or gravel will open up your soil and allow channels for drainage.

The final part of the soil preparation is to fork into the soil around 10 to 20 grammes of 7-6-17 fertiliser per metre squared. If 7-6-17 is not available, then any general-purpose fertiliser such as "Westland's Growmore" applied at the rates stated on its pack will do. If you apply any of these fertilisers, you must allow the soil to and its amendments to settle for around a week or two before planting.

This gives you ample opportunity to select and source the plants you would like to inhabit your newly created bed/border. And that is what we will look at in the next piece of this article, your bedding selection and planting.

More to follow......

Any queries or comments on Summer bedding plants, making your bed in May, please post below.

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