The Beechgrove Garden 2021 episode 8: Beechgrove is hung up on the 3,000-year-old gardening staple – the hanging basket. For a 2021 approach, Kirsty joins Carole and Mairi at Beechgrove as they explore sustainable hanging basket options, including an upcycled bird cage.
Meanwhile, Brian shows the next stage of his no-dig, converted lawn at Old Scone, while George Anderson plants pumpkins and provides updates on the progress of his quick crops in small spaces. And we visit the community-run Starbank Park, in Leith, to hear about the community’s renovation of the site, which at this time of the year is snowy with cherry blossoms.
The Beechgrove Garden 2021 episode 8
How to plant a hanging basket
Stand the hanging basket on a wide, short pot to keep it stable. If the basket isn’t already lined, use moss or a proprietary liner. Mix water retaining crystals into your compost (optional). Lay a circle of polythene at the base to help retain water. Cut holes in the liner about 5cm (2in) above the base for trailing plants. Fill the basket to that level with compost.
Wrap paper round the root balls of the trailing plants and push them through the holes.. The roots should be level with the compost in the basket. Add extra compost and firm it around the plants. Put a small plastic pot near the centre of the basket to act as a watering reservoir. Plant short plants at the edge of the basket and taller ones in the centre. Fill in around them with compost and water in well.
Remember to water your hanging basket regularly. Summer baskets (like the begonias at the top of this page) appreciate a weekly feed with liquid fertiliser. At the end of the season, tip the basket onto the compost heap. Some hardy plants such as ivies can be re-planted in the garden.
Digging is mainly needed to control weeds and occasionally to incorporate lime, phosphorus and potassium. These often penetrate soil slowly and in cases of deficiency need help. Digging is also beneficial to restore the structure lost when wet soil is trampled. Good soil dries to little crumbs and if damaged when wet these are lost, but they can be restored by digging and manuring.
‘No-dig’ usually involves growing crops in beds that can be reached from narrow (say 45cm/18in) paths each side. Usually the beds are not trodden on, but in fact they support the weight of a gardener’s foot because the structure has not been damaged by digging. Soil organisms, when fed by surface mulches of organic matter, create a crumb structure within a firm soil. Firm is not the same as compacted.
Beds may be raised or on the flat. On the flat is better where the soil is sandy and in low-rainfall areas: sandy soil has little inherent fertility or ability to hold moisture, therefore it also needs extra organic matter. Raised beds are especially valuable in wet districts, on poorly drained soils, and if it is important to avoid back strain.
Pumpkins – Beechgrove Garden 2021 episode
Pumpkins are easy and fun to grow – just give them a sunny position, plenty of water and shelter from cold winds. One of the finest sights of autumn is colourful pumpkins ripening in the sun. As well as making great Halloween decorations, the fruits can be used to make hearty soup and are delicious roasted.
Pumpkins are best grown from seed indoors, but can also be sown later outdoors in a sheltered spot. You can also sow seeds directly outdoors where you want your plants to grow. Sow two or three seeds per planting hole, 3cm (1in) deep, in late May or early June. Cover with cloches, jars or plastic sheeting. Leave this in place for two weeks, or as long as possible, after germination. Thin the seedlings, leaving only the strongest one to grown on.
Pumpkins need a warm, sunny position, shelter from cold winds and moisture-retentive soil. In late May, start hardening off indoor-raised plants, to acclimatise them to outdoor conditions. Do this by moving them into a coldframe for a week. If you don’t have a coldframe, move plants outdoors during the day, then bring them in at night for a week. The following week, leave them out in a sheltered spot all day and night. Plant them out in early June, when all risk of frost has passed.
Before transplanting indoor-raised plants or sowing seeds outdoors, prepare the planting site by making a hole about a spade’s depth and width. Backfill with a mixture of garden compost or well-rotted manure and soil. Sprinkle a general-purpose fertiliser over the soil. Space these planting or sowing sites 1.8m (6ft) apart.
You can also plant pumpkins in growing bags or large containers (at least 45cm/18in wide), but bear in mind that they’ll need regular and generous watering. Plant one or two per growing bag, or one per container.