Get started on bas­kets

Manawatu Guardian - - NEWS - By HENRI HAM

Are you keen to get go­ing on your spring plant­ing but know its slightly too early? How about sort­ing out some hang­ing bas­kets that will erupt in flow­ers be­fore you’ve even planted your first toma­toes.

Hang­ing bas­kets are a great way to liven up any area, large or small. Sus­pend them in en­trance ways, un­der ve­ran­das, decks and pa­tios.

And what’s re­ally great about bas­kets is they are su­per easy to as­sem­ble. Many come with a fit­ted co­conut liner but if not get some sphag­num moss to line it with. You can also get your seedlings or or­der on­line from www.awa­

What­ever you choose I rec­om­mend get­ting a bas­ket/s at least ap­prox 30cm in di­am­e­ter.

Solid bas­kets have the ben­e­fit of not dry­ing out as quickly. But they don’t al­low for you to cas­cade plants around the sides and base of the bas­ket. Wire ones have a real cot­tage gar­den feel.

Co­conut lin­ers are solid and ideal for wire bas­kets with big­ger gaps. Us­ing sphag­num moss wouldn’t work on a wire bas­ket as the moss would fall through the gaps.

Some bas­kets come with a self­wa­ter­ing reser­voir which might save you wa­ter­ing for a few days in sum­mer. I like to place an old saucer at the bot­tom of the bas­ket which acts as a wa­ter catcher and helps the bas­ket to re­tain its mois­ture.

When as­sem­bling your bas­ket, first soak the liner in a bucket of wa­ter for five min­utes to re­ally help its hy­dra­tion. Line your bas­ket with the co­conut or moss liner. Then fill it al­most to the top with light­weight pot­ting soil mix and com­post.

Bal­ance your round bas­ket on an old bucket so it stays flat while you are as­sem­bling it. Try mix­ing in some wa­ter gel crys­tals. They re­tain wa­ter in the sum­mer months and help if you miss a day or two of wa­ter­ing. Awa­puni Nurs­eries have a vi­brant hang­ing bas­ket mix with a range of suit­able, sea­sonal flow­ers — lo­belia, pansy, Eng­lish daisy, dwarf an­tir­rhinum, vi­ola and prim­ula. You can or­der on­line and have them de­liv­ered.

Try adding plants in the mid­dle that pack a bit of height. Dwarf an­tir­rhinum (known as dwarf snap­drag­ons) are per­fect. Look­ing for some­thing a bit more prac­ti­cal and close to kitchen? Add some pars­ley or basil in the mid­dle and keep your cas­cad­ing flow­ers on the edges.

If your bas­ket is 30cm across three to five plants is suit­able. Slightly wider and eas­ily fit seven. I like a re­ally full bas­ket right from the start so I re­ally pack them in.

Once es­tab­lished hang­ing bas­kets re­quire lit­tle main­te­nance other than reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing — es­pe­cially dur­ing sum­mer. So, stop wait­ing for spring to ar­rive to get back out into your gar­dens.

Spring to it now and plant some bas­kets.

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