Finding the right time to plant out for summer

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Just when is the right time to plant out all those beautiful flowers that will decorate beds and borders for the rest of the summer?

The answer is, when the threat of frost has passed.

So, while some gardeners risk planting out tender bedding plants in May, the prudent ones will wait until June, knowing that the weather should be set fair for a few months.

The possibility of a summer drought (or at least a bit of a dry spell) is, however, always with us. So it’s sensible to plant with dry soils in mind.

The water-holding capacity of composts and garden soil can be increased easily by incorporating proprietary gels or additives. These magic granules can absorb up to 150 times their own weight in water, releasing it to plant roots whenever it’s needed. All you need is a couple of teaspoons for either 10 litres of compost or a square foot of garden soil.

But don’t just rely on the miracles of modern technology, old-fashioned gardening techniques still have much to offer. So, water the plants in trays or pots before planting. Thoroughly wet the root ball of all plants before planting and leave them to drain.

Improve the water-holding capacity of your soil. That means providing organic matter at root level which is capable of holding more moisture than ordinary garden soil. You may have your own well rotted garden compost to use or you may have to buy a bag of something like Miracle-Gro All Purpose Enriched Compost. Whatever you use, dig a handful or two into the bottom of the planting hole and then water.

Plant at the right depth. Carefully remove the root ball from your tray or individual pot and place at the correct depth in the planting hole. Use more compost to improve the soil around the root ball and then build a circular wall of soil to hold water immediately over the root area without any running away and being wasted.

Water and feed moderately and mulch the surface. A layer of organic matter will reduce evaporation from the soil surface.

And finally, wage war on weeds that would otherwise rob your soil of precious moisture and nutrients. Hand-weed or use a glyphosate-based herbicide.