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Gardening tips for geraniums and lettuce

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Go potty for geraniums

Want to inject some bright colour into a super sunny spot in your garden? How about planting some geraniums? These hardy, sun-loving plants are perfect for those prime spots in your garden that often get too hot or are slightly too exposed for other flowers.

Geraniums are a cute low-spreading plant, with flowers that push above its foliage - like little posies. For your geranium seedlings, head to Awapuni Nurseries online shop. We currently have violet and bulls eye mix varieties available now. Our bulls eye mix blooms in pinks, reds, and oranges. But if you’re after a classic white, in around March our ‘new to the nursery this season’ white geraniums will also be ready to order.

Now, to plant your seedlings. Choose a well-drained, moderately sunny spot - geraniums like four to six hours sun a day. I like to dig some compost or general fertiliser through the garden first, to give them the best possible start.

Dig small holes 8cm deep, roughly 25 cm apart. If you’re after suggestions on what to grow with your geraniums, livingstone daisies, lobelia and alyssum are my top picks. They all like the same conditions and look lovely together.

Give your geraniums a good initial watering, and keep this up for the first few weeks to really help them get established. Once you’ve got them going, you can relax a bit more on how much you water.

In around four to six weeks you’ll start to see some colour coming through on top of their dark leaves. Deadheading your blooms will encourage more to come through. And pinching the stems will promote bushier rather than leggier flowers.

If you’re not sure what pinching is - it’s simply breaking off the top 2cm of the growing tip of a plant to encourage it to grow out wider, before it grows up. The same way you pinch off the very top of your basil (and other herbs) so it doesn’t go to seed.

Geraniums make great bedding plants but are also perfect for pots. If you plant in pots, always start with a fresh, good-quality potting mix. Adding stones or old broken pots at the bottom of the pot will help with the drainage. If your pots are in an exposed concrete area think about how hot they will get during the day. You can always elevate them onto some wooden batons or bricks so they don’t conduct as much heat.

Painting the inside of a pot can also help retain its moisture. Remember to check what sort of paint or seal you’re using first and whether it’s appropriate for plants.

Geraniums also make for a lovely indoor pot plant. Place them near a window and if they’re given enough sunlight, they can flower all year long. Now that’s almost plant perfection.

Let-us eat salad

Lettuce salads have been a headliner in my kitchen lately. This hot summer heat we’ve been having has kept me busy watering in the garden, but there’s been lots of harvesting taking place too. This also means I’ve had to replant lettuce seedlings (every few weeks) to continue my prolific supply.

The good thing is, even for the most novice of gardeners, you can’t go wrong planting a few lettuces. They’re simple to grow, quick to produce and take up relatively little room.

I plant my lettuces all year round, but really ramp it up from August through to February. To ensure I don’t get bored of any one type, I like to constantly mix up the varieties I plant. Buttercrunch and cos are great for picking off their loose leaves as you need them. Drunken woman and great lakes are a larger, more classic-shaped lettuce, that I remember from my younger days. What I also remember is, back then you’d never consider picking a few leaves here and there. You’d always harvest the whole lettuce head at once. How the times have changed!

A new lettuce variety we’ve grown at the nursery this summer is tom thumb. It’s the perfect little lettuce to pop in between rows of other plants. It grows small heads (about the size of a baseball), which are ideal as a gourmet lettuce for one. Contrary to what I just said about picking leaves off your lettuces as you need them, tom thumb is harvested all at once.

Tom thumb has a lovely mild, sweet taste. But the reason it’s a great lettuce to grow at this time of year is it tolerates high temperatures very well and resists bolting. And, being so small, makes it a great candidate to plant in a pot, or alongside other plants such as leeks or beetroot.

You can grab your tom thumb lettuce seedlings from our Awapuni Nurseries online shop and have them delivered direct to your door. We guarantee satisfaction, and if you’re not entirely happy with your plants when they arrive, we’ll replace them.

Once you’ve got your seedlings, look for a well-drained and sheltered place to plant them. I like to dig in some new compost and sheep pallets at this point too. Then dig some little holes - 3cm deep and 15cm apart.

After this, simply water regularly and watch for slugs. Smaller pots need to be watered daily right now or, if you’ve planted in the ground test with your finger for dryness. If you get one knuckle deep and it’s dry, you’ll know its time to water.

And for the slugs - I recommend slug ‘beer bait’. That’s if you’ve got any spare beer in the house right now. It’s also a fun activity to do with the kids.

In around four to six weeks your tom thumbs should be ready to be harvested. I recommend suggest combining them with grated zucchini, basil, parmesan and your fav dressing for a fresh twist on your summer salad. Bon appetite.

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