Top Tip - Plant strawberries for a feast of summer berries
Strawberries are the quintessential summer fruit and now is the time to plant them for a feast of mouth watering, sweet, juicy berries that will be ready for picking in summer.
Plants will grow quickly if planted in a sunny spot. Their pretty white springs flowers will turn into heavy yields of fruit that will ripen to perfection – the taste of these home grown berries will be far better than anything you can buy in the supermarkets.
There are lots of cracking strawberry varieties available. ‘Cambridge Favourite’ produces huge crops and is often grown on pick your own farms, while ‘Sweetheart’ has conical sweet, juicy. ‘Elsanta’ is the most widely grown commercial strawberry in this country for good reason – it boasts heavy crops of large fruit.
Growing strawberries is easy. Plant 45cm apart in well-drained fertile soil, that’s been improved with shredded horse manure or garden compost. Alternatively plant several in an EasyFill hanging basket or individually in 20cm pots filled with Premium Professional Compost.
Flowers, trees and shrubs
• Prune back seed heads or stems left on perennials for winter interest. Cutting as far back as possible, without damaging any emerging growth.
• Mophead and lacecap hydrangeas can be trimmed as the buds begin to swell. Remove the old flowerheads with a pair of secateurs, snipping back to the nearest pair of healthy looking buds.
• Place supports around the emerging stems of perennials to prevent them flopping later in the season. Link stakes are ideal for large clumps, while wire mesh rings attached to legs are perfect for multi-stemmed perennials, such as asters. Individual stems of delphinium, hollyhock, verbascum and other tall growing plants can be tied to stout canes with garden twine.
In the kitchen garden
• Spread a 3 inch layer of shredded horse manure around cane, bush and tree fruits to give them a boost. Leave a gap between the stem and the manure.
• If you live in a mild part of the country or have a sheltered garden, you can sow seeds of beetroot, broad beans, peas and summer spinach in well prepared soil.
• Enjoy a crop of summer blueberries by planting young bushes in large pots filled with ericaceous compost.
• Prevent vine weevil grubs from eating the roots of plants in containers with Provado Vine Weevil Killer 2 – the pesticide can be mixed with water and applied with a watering can.
• Spring clean greenhouses. Take out the contents, so you can sweep benches and floors. Tidy up pots and trays. Remove dead leaves and flowers from plants before putting them back.
• Prepare ground for starting new lawns from seed. Rake the soil level, remove stones and broadcast seed. Rake gently into the surface. Water and cover with netting to protect from birds.