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Hanging around

Although its miserable right now and it’s cold and wet, even though it doesn’t feel like it and it’s doubtful summer will ever appear, it is actually time to hoik out the hanging baskets and dust off the liners. Here’s mine and mothers perfect basket guide with a few hints and tips…

Hanging out with our baskets

Making perfect baskets:

Firstly you need a basket, or two or three! And liners for each.

You’ll need compost and as an optional some moisture gel and a fertiliser. You’ll need enough plants to fill your baskets in an odd number. Decide if you are planting through the sides of the basket too. We used:

2 x fushia
2 x verbena
6 x lobelia (three through sides, three on top)
5 x trailing petunias (two through sides three in top)
1 x greenery
1 x bacopa snowtopia

Per basket.

Decide on a colour scheme. Do you want shades of red, purples and pinks or a mix? Perhaps you’d like to do jubilee baskets and create with red white and blue blossoms.

Lay out your plants in your basket to decide exactly where they are going before you start planting.

laying out before starting

Keep your plants together by basket so you don’t get confused.

If planting through the sides half fill the basket with compost, then make holes, evenly spaced, in the liner. If using moss you can use your fingers, if using coconut or bio liners you’ll need scissors to snip a cross and push through. Loosen your plants and hold them by the root. Push them through the liner from inside to outside so as not to damage the young plant. do this for each of your side plants, evenly spacing using alternate plants if using more than one type.

planting in the side of your basket

Fill the basket to the top with compost.

One by one plant your plants, take care to be gentle with very young plants. Work from the middle out and ensure to keep to an odd number for maximum visual pleasure! Make a hole in the compost for your plant and make sure you firm it in after.

Once finished top up with compost if necessary, water thoroughly and hang (preferably in a green house for a few weeks before hardening off).

Voila! Perfect baskets!

finished basket

Tips:
1) use moss as a liner, it’s free! It looks great and is environmentally friendly. Keep moss from your grass or from mossy areas in your garden, it keeps soil and moisture in excellently.

moss liner

2) use Half multipurpose compost and half Westland with moisture gel already included. It makes it cheaper than buying moisture gel and it’s a Which? best buy. Using just Westland is expensive but half and half provides what you need.
3) use fish blood and bone mix to feed your baskets, it’s a cheap but effective and natural fertiliser
4) good basket plants are:
– verbena
– trailing fushias
– million bells / lobelia
– trailing petunias / pansys
– greenery plant

5) to save money culture your seeds from your baskets at the end of the season, when the flowers are dying pick the head and dry it out, on a plate on a window sill is a good place. Then pop them in a sandwich bag, label them up for next year. In early spring sprinkle the dried seeds onto some compost in a seed tray and cover lightly with seed compost. Place on a window sill to germinate, pot on when seedlings are 3-4 cms. It makes baskets much cheaper!
5) keep compost in an old large pot so you can mix it together, put cat deterrent, spiky sticks, in to keep it clean
6) it’s easier to plant young plants either with no gloves, or if you don’t like getting your hands dirty, rubber gloves as they aren’t as restrictive as gardening gloves.
7) side planting through liners is good for baskets which won’t get all day sun as it fills them out more.
8) loosen your plants with a normal cutlery knife to get the out of the pots easily.
9) use a cutlery spoon and fork to make holes for the plants in the compost and to push the compost down when planted. Garden tools ate too big, you don’t need specialist equipment!
10) verbena and fushia work well in the centre of baskets as they have height, space other plants around them.
11) water your baskets regularly and top up with compost after a few waters as it will settle down.
12) if you don’t have hanging space in a green house sit them on a shelf in a cold frame for a few weeks
13) if you don’t have a cold frame they’ll be fine outside unless there’s a frost, in which case bring them in overnight
14) deadhead regularly to promote growth and feed again every few weeks.
15) don’t worry if at the end of planting your plants are muddy, the mud will come off each time you water.
16) its easier to plant at waist height, use you garden table or a bench and lay everything out before you start.

Equipment check list:
Baskets
Liners
Plants
Compost
Moisture beads
Fertiliser
Spoon, knife and fork
Rubber gloves

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