Garden Notes : Tips And Tricks From Gardening Guru

Apr 19, 2012 No Comments by

How to grow sunflowers

My one annual essential is the sunflower (Helianthus annuus). I say ir’s one for my kids, but I enjoy growing these garden giants as much, if not more, than they do. Though sunflowers can be sown direct in the ground, for best results (and to protect against slugs), I grow them in pota for planting out when 10-15cm tall. My favourites are the red varieties, such as ‘Velvet Queen’, Chianti, Black Magic, and Red sun.

For a clear, buttery yellow, I’d recommend Helianthus annuus ‘Valentine’.

  1. Fill small flowerpots (7.5cm are ideal), or multi large-celled seed trays with seed compost, and press down gently with our fingertips. Water and allow to drain.
  2. Plant a sunflower seed 1 cm below the surface of the compost into each pot or cell and cover. Leave in a cool, bright place and keep well watered.
  3. When the seedlings are 10-15 cm tall, remove the pot and plant into a sunny spot in the garden. Keep them well-watered and fed, and stake them if necessary.

Jobs for May

  1. After the risk for frosts has passed, plant hanging baskets of summer-flowering annuals.
  2. Prune lavender hard back.
  3. Plant summer-flowering bulbs.
  4. Plant out border gaps with harbaceous perennials and grasses.
  5. Prune out winter-damaged, dead or diseased branches from trees and shrubs.
  6. Feed, re-seed and/or topdress your lawn after giving it its first cut.
  7. Start sowing vegetable seed.
  8. Feed borders with slow-release fertiliser.
  9. Check for nesting birds, then trim hedges.
  10. Lift and divide congested clumps of spring-flowering bulbs.
  11. Start earthing up potatoes and plant any that aren’t in the ground yet.
  12. Mulch your borders.
  13. Start staking floppy perennials.

Plant it now….May

  1. French bean ‘Purple Queen’ : Climbing beans with purple flowers giving rise to glossy dark purple pods (which go green when cooked). Pretty enough for the flower border.
  2. Pelargonium tomentosum : Lush, velvety, peppermint-scented edible leaves, and delicate white blooms — perfect for a windowbox or patio pot.
  3. Honesty Lunaria annua :  Sow this biennial for fragrant purple and white flowers next spring. The papery ‘ silver dollar’ seed heads are produced later in the year.

Your tip : When I have a busy day of gardening ahead, I make a flask of tea or coffee and take it out into the garden with me to save time.



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