Get prepared for the planting season

Getting hold of all the things that you need for planting season is not quite as straightforward as normal this year. We’ve put together a list of suggestions to help you get prepared, covering all sorts of things from ordering in compost and netting to making homemade cloches and brassica collars.

We would highly recommend checking your local garden centres’ Facebook pages and websites – we’ve found several are offering local delivery at the moment, even if they don’t usually offer online shopping, and many of them have faster delivery times than the bigger online retailers at the moment.

Things to order online

Below is a list of things that we think are pretty crucial for a successful veg patch. You may not be able to get hold of everything you want, but don’t worry as in the next section we have some homemade alternatives!

  • Horticultural fleece – for laying over the top of newly planted crops to protect them from cold nights and frost. Also great for protecting carrots from carrot root fly.
  • Insect-proof mesh/netting – for protecting brassicas from pigeons and butterflies.
  • Compost – if you haven’t topped up your soil with compost yet, try to get hold of some before planting time. Even if you only add a small handful of compost with each planting, you will see the benefits. Order enough to fill your pots.
  • Growbags – if you’re planning to grow tomatoes etc in grow bags, be sure to get hold of some before your delivery comes.
  • Wormcast fertiliser or liquid feed – boosting the nutrients in the soil is great for your veggies. We sell wormcast fertiliser here at Rocket Gardens – it’s easy to use, just sprinkle and small handful in with each plant when you plant it.
  • Bamboo canes and garden twine – to make bean supports and supports for tomatoes etc.

Things to collect/make at home

Being inventive and creative is a very useful skill to have in the garden this year! Here are some of our suggestions…

  • Cardboard – cut cardboard into 10cm discs, and cut a slit into the centre to place around the base of brassicas. These brassica collars will protect plants from cabbage root fly. (you’ll get some cardboard with your plant delivery!)
  • Old jam jars – these can be turned upside down and placed on bamboo stakes to support netting
  • Empty clear plastic bottles – these can be cut in half width ways and placed over vulnerable plants as a cloche, protecting them from frost if you can’t get hold of horticultural fleece
  • Old net curtains – these would work well to protect brassicas if you struggle to buy netting.
  • Old CDs/DVDs – these can be strung in amongst rows of brassicas to try and deter pigeons if you can’t get any netting. Keep it low – head height for a pigeon. This isn’t massively effective but worth a try!
  • Yoghurt pots and similar containers – fill them with cheap lager and sink them into the ground to attract slugs away from your crops
  • Twigs – 50cm long twiggy twigs (a twiggy twig is one that is knobbly and gnarly, as opposed to a smooth bamboo-like twig!) to make pea supports
  • Fallen branches – if you can’t get any bamboo, you can make supports from bits of fallen tree! Look for branches that are approx 2m long, and 3-5cm thick.
  • Old shoe laces or the wire binding of a spiral notepad– great for tying plant supports together if you haven’t got garden twine.
  • Molehill soil – if moles have ruined your grass, or inhabited the field next-door, the soil is great for filling up pots if you haven’t got enough compost!
  • No compost? Get digging – whilst compost is a really great addition to your soil, you can still get good results without it. Our recommendation would be to dig over the soil really well and then, once veggies are planted, water every 2-3 weeks with a homemade liquid feed
  • Homemade liquid feed – cut back a patch of stinging nettles, soak them in a bucket of water for 24-48 hours. Then use the nettle-infused water as a liquid feed.