The Penultimate Gardening Class

After a week of glorious weather, the trainee gardeners joined Richard for the penultimate class. Richard brought along two square planters, handpainted by trainees from another group, to demonstrate planting up a square planter.

Square Planters

You can fit more plants in a square planter. In the one we planted up, we have Fuchsia ‘Jumping Nelly’ as a centrepiece, Cuckoo plant at the corners, and begonias as filler plants.


At this time of year, roses should have brown/bronze coloured leaves coming out at the top of the plant.

If you are planting roses for visual effect, plant them in groups of five with plenty of room between them to let air circulate. Roses are hungry plants so, when planting, make sure to put some granular feed in the planting hole, and feed them at the beginning and end of the season.

  • Pick off leaves affected with black spot and burn them or put them in landfill.
  • Spray the roses with garlic water (crush garlic and soak overnight in water) to deter white and green fly.


If you are buying in six packs, stand the packs in a little water overnight and plant out in the morning. You will probably need to thin out the seedlings after a week.

Carrots and parsnips should be planted into stone free 50/50 mix of compost and sand. This means quite a lot of preparation of the vegetable bed. An alternative is to plant carrots and parsnips in prepared tubs or planters.

Lettuce needs a lot of watering so plant them close to a water point. Don’t plant out more than you’re going to eat in a week. Sow a little and often so you can have plants ready to put out and cut and eat throughout the summer.

Richard reminded us of the masking tape technique and also suggested sowing seeds using a syringe – fill the body of the syringe and gently ‘inject’ the pot with a small amount of seeds at a time.

Brassicas (cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli): When you come to harvest brassicas, leave the root in the ground and cut a cross into the top of the stem. Soft, edible, green leaves will emerge after a week or two giving you a bonus harvest.

In addition to making the best colcannon, kale can be finely shredded and stir-fried, and can be baked in the oven and eaten as an unusual crisp.

The mustard seeds planted in the first week are all doing well. Richard suggested sowing more to provide succession and, to see what the plant would do when left uncut, allowing one plant to grow on.


  • If you can, arrange your pots at different heights using stands, blocks, steps, and different pot sizes.
  • Trailing violas are an excellent plant to use in hanging baskets and pots that are placed at above waist height.
  • Watering from below is the best method of keeping your plants hydrated. If you can’t keep your pots on a tray, get the watering can rose as close to the soil as possible when watering. NEVER water directly onto leaves.
  • If you’re doing a lot of potting up, put a strip of masking tape on each pot and write on it what you have planted.
  • Winter pots can be put together in mid-November. Fill with (trailing) winter violas, feed well, deadhead regularly and water as necessary. The pot should last through to the beginning of summer.