Tag Archive: containers


There's such a choice of  containers to grow in!

There’s such a choice of containers to grow in!

It’s getting to that time when we plant up containers – with annuals, or perhaps longer lasting plants. Which type of compost should you use?

There are two main types of compost: soil-based (John Innes) and soil-less, which may be based on peat or a peat substitute such as coir or perhaps recycled household waste. In addition, depending on the drainage requirements of the plants you’re placing in containers, you’ll need to add some horticultural grit, Pearlite or similar. And some plants- bulbs for example- like a mix which is less nutrient rich, light and leafy- so add in plenty of leaf mould.

All containers need some means of letting excessive water escape- in most pots there’s a hole in the bottom and permeable liners (or a few holes punched in a piece of plastic) in hanging baskets will achieve the same result. But don’t forget to rest some pieces of broken pot or tile over the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot to avoid the compost washing out.

Plants like this Box ball requires a soil-based compost to thrive long term

Plants like this Box ball requires a soil-based compost to thrive long term

Soil-based composts

These are heavy, retain water well and provide a long-lasting supply of nutrients. They are the best choice for permanent plants in containers and for plants that grow tall and are top heavy. For permanent displays, use john Innes Number 3 because of its high level of nutrients.

Soil- less composts

These are lightweight, clean and easy to handle, but dry out quickly and contain few nutrients. Soil-less composts are best for temporary displays, such as bedding plants and hanging baskets. Peat-based composts are the most consistent in quality, though alternatives are improving all the time (especially some of the recycled organic matter types) and do not deplete the landscape like peat-based types.

Plants like Pelargoniums (these are in the courtyard at Old School Garden), require a very gritty soil-less compost.

Plants like Pelargoniums (these are in the courtyard at Old School Garden), require a very gritty soil-less compost.

Source: ‘Short cuts to Great Gardens’- Reader’s Digest, 1999

Old School Gardener

 

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49bef9cfc989acf6a48a3670e7b1f02dNo garden is complete- in my view- without some plants you can eat. Even if it’s only the leaves of herbs or flower petals to garnish a ‘happy salad’, growing our own food has to be a part of the essence of gardening. So today’s object is a traditional garden trug, used to gather in the fruits (and veg) of your labours.

The traditional trug has an interesting history:

‘Way back in the heydays of the 1820’s, just before Queen Victoria ascended to the English Throne, a Man of Sussex, one Thomas Smith of Herstmonceux, made a decision about his life that was to have a profound effect on Sussex and the World.   He invented the Sussex Trug!   Taking an ancient idea dating back to Anglo Saxon times, Thomas redesigned the historic “trog” and in so doing he created a part of the English gardening scene that is now World famous!   

 The “trog” was a wooden vessel hewn from solid timber in the shape of the round coracle boat that the Anglo Saxons used for their daily business.   Because of the way these “trogs” were made they were very heavy.   They were used by Sussex farmers to measure grain and liquids and were made in several sizes for different measures.   They continued in use in this form until the mid-1600’s and we have been able to uncover an inventory from a farm in Newhaven, East Sussex at about that time where there were recorded “a dozen of trogs in the milking parlour”. 

 Thomas Smith re-invented the “trog” carefully designing a lightweight basket using Sweet Chestnut (Castanea Sativa) and Cricket Bat Willow (Salix Coerulea)….’

Thomas Smith- The Royal Sussex Trug

The traditional Sussex Trug

The traditional Sussex Trug

Thanks to a thoughtful birthday present from my wife, I now have two of these lovely baskets at Old School Garden. It is a joy taking them out into the garden, from early summer, to harvest  fresh produce and then use it as quickly as possible in the day’s main meal. Celebrity gardener Bob Flowerdew underlines the importance of getting your pickings as quickly as you can from plot to saucepan to maximise the sweetness; as soon as it’s picked a sweetcorn’s, or whatever’s natural sugars start to convert to starch.

I guess the trug is a good token for all the other containers we use in the garden (including the modern day plastic trug); whether it be to carry flowers, tools, weeds, compost and so on.

But most importantly, it is the symbol of all that’s good in ‘growing your own’ and the freshness and flavour that comes from this small contribution to world food production.

Further information:

History of the Sussex Trug

 Old School Gardener

P1020823aSeen from indoors, or as you approach a stepped entrance, pots can make a ready-staged display as they mount the stairs. But always make sure that the pots do not obstruct the route and that they cannot fall or be kicked over. You can fix the pots in place with a dab or two of cement, as long as the drainage holes are not blocked, but this means they cannot be moved. The simplest way to secure each pot is to wrap a loop of gardening wire firmly round it and tie the ends of the wire to side railings or other firmly fixed uprights.

Source: ‘Good Ideas for Your Garden’- Reader’s Digest 1995

Old School Gardener

Spello, Perugia, Italy

Spello, Perugia, Italy

Some great examples of how you can re/upcycle all manner of objects and materials to create fun and beautiful planters! (courtesy of 1001 Pallets and some other places).

Old School Gardener

recycled drawers

Some great DIY ideas here

Old School Gardener

IMG_8433My earlier article described how I put together a new wooden planter for my courtyard garden, made by Woodblocx. I’ve now finished it.

First, I gave the rough planed outside a sand down with a medium grade sanding disc, wiped it over and then applied two coats of Dulux Woodsheen (colour Ebony) to make the finished article match in with the other black planters in the garden. This gives it a nice semi gloss finish. I then fixed some hammer- in studs to the bottom to raise it slightly off the ground (to prevent it being in contact with standing water), and lined it with landscape fabric, stapled to the sides to give a neat finish. This will hold the soil in and also protect the inside surfaces of the planter.

The planter painted and lined, ready to fill.
The planter painted and lined, ready to fill.

I then made up a mix to fill it- roughly 3 parts soil, 2 parts compost and 2 parts horticultural grit, to ensure that the soil is free draining. Having really packed this in and slightly overfilled it to allow for settlement, I arranged a selection of alpine plants I’d bought from my local nursery (£12.50 for ten plants – I ended up buying 20 – and then a few more larger plants to give the planting a bit of structure).

The planter isn’t really large enough for me to create a more ‘mountain-like’ scene with rocks and crevices to create shady conditions, but hopefully the plants that need a shadier spot will be helped by the shade cast by the larger plants. To finish off or ‘dress’ the surface I used a bag of ‘Eco Aggregate’ – this is a range of recycled stones. I chose crushed terracotta (old tiles) which picks up the colours of some of the other terracotta pots, brickwork and floor pavers.

I’m pleased with the result – it will add an interesting feature to the courtyard and is low enough to be viewed from the seating next to it. What do you think? If you’re interested in finding out more about ‘Woodblocx’ click the link on the right hand side.

IMG_8434

Old School Gardener

A couple of interesting ideas for recycling tyres into useful garden equipment.

Strips of old tyre rubber used as edgings for grass- hmm...how practical, how aesthetic?

Old tyre rubber re-formed into strips as edgings for grass- hmm… practical? aesthetic?

A neat row of tyre containers- herbs? grass-lined seats?

A neat row of tyre containers- herbs? grass-lined seats?

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