The team present seasonal highlights from across the country, visiting stunning gardens, meeting the gardeners and finding out their secrets of success.
Gardeners World episode 6 2020
How to grow lettuce
Choose the right varieties and you can have lettuce almost all year round. There are so many types of lettuce to choose from – all with different colours, flavours and textures – that salad need never be boring! There are two main types of lettuce – hearting lettuces have a dense centre, while loose-leaf lettuces have open leaves and no heart. You can also grow a variety of salad leaves that can be picked while young and tender.
Grow lettuces in full sun on moisture-retentive soil. Early and late sowings may need protection against cold, using cloches, plastic tunnels or horticultural fleece. All these types of protection will be available at garden centres.
Thin seedlings as soon as the first true leaves appear and continue until the plants are 30cm (12in) apart. The seedlings you thin out can be washed and eaten too. Water when the soil is dry; the best time to water is in the early morning. Early in the year sparrows can be a problem as they find young lettuce plants irresistible. Protect with fleece, chicken wire or similar.
How to make a raised bed for your veggies
Raised beds are a great way of growing a wide range of plants, and are particularly popular for growing fruit and vegetables. They are a good way of boosting drainage and can be used to introduce a different soil type to your garden. Raised beds are also a useful way to garden if you have restricted mobility, as they reduce the need to bend.
Plants in raised beds can suffer more quickly and more severely from drought due to improved drainage, so keep an eye on watering needs. Modern wood treatments do not contain potentially harmful heavy metals, so are safe to use. If in doubt, line the inside of the bed with polythene. New railway sleepers may contain creosote that should not be used where skin contact is a possibility. Creosote is thought to have dissipated from older sleepers, and these may be used without concern about skin contact.
Parsley is grown as an annual for its flavoursome leaves that are used as a garnish or chopped into sauces, butters, dressings and stuffings. It is an essential ingredient of many dishes, including salsa verde and tabouleh. Although curly leaved parsley looks great as a garnish and has textured tactile leaves, flat-leaved parsley has a stronger taste and is more useful, and easier to prepare, in the kitchen.
Sow outdoors from early spring to the start of summer in well-drained soil in sun or partial shade. Sow seeds in shallow, 1cm ½in) deep trenches. Cover the trench and water. When they are large enough to handle, thin seedlings to 15cm (6in) apart with 15cm (6in) between rows.
Alternatively, grow in pots. Sow seeds thinly across a 25cm (10in) pot filled with seed compost, cover with a 1cm (½in) layer of compost and water. Leave in a cool spot to germinate and make sure the compost doesn’t dry out. Germination can take up to six weeks, then when they are large enough to handle, thin out seedlings, leaving about 2cm (¾in) between plants.
Thyme growing guide
The aromatic foliage of thyme will fill the air with scent on a warm sunny day, while its flowers are a magnet to wildlife. Its edible leaves are used fresh or dried to flavour soups, stews, fish, meat, sausages, stuffings and vegetable dishes. They are an important ingredient in bouquet garni and herbes de Provence.
Thyme can be brought at ready-grown plants, but is also easy to grow from seed. In early spring fill small pots with seed sowing compost and scatter a few seeds lightly over the surface. Cover with a light layer of sieved compost and water gently. Place in a propagator to germinate. When seedlings are large enough to handle, prick out into individual pots.
Plants hate too much water and are fairly drought tolerant. Ensure plants in pots are not allowed to dry out completely for any length of time during long hot, dry spells. Place a collar of horticultural grit or gravel around plants in the ground to protect the foliage from wet soil. Clip to shape after flowering with secateurs.
Remove fallen leaves that settle on thyme plants in autumn to prevent rotting. Protect plants in pots from excessive winter wet by placing in a rain shadow or a dry, light position and raise onto pot feet to allow the compost to drain freely.
Hydrangea growing guide
There are a number of different hydrangea types but they all enjoy similar growing conditions. They vary in size from small shrubs to sizeable, almost tree-like specimens so check the plant label when buying to get one that is suitable for your space. Which hydrangea you choose will likely depend on your preferences for flower colour and/or shape.
Mophead and lacecap cultivars of Hydrangea macrophylla (and also Hydrangea involucrata and Hydrangea serrata) change colour depending on the acidity or alkalinity of the soil (pH) that affects aluminium availability. Those with blue or pink flowers tend to be blue in acid soils (high available aluminium levels), mauve in lightly acid to neutral soil conditions, and pink in alkaline conditions. White, red and green-flowered cultivars, remain white or green regardless of soil pH.