10 inspirational planting ideas

Update your garden this summer with these planting tips from garden designer Matt James

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3. Grow fresh crops

Only grow pricey crops that taste better picked fresh, such as spinach, asparagus, broad beans, salad potatoes, lettuce, rocket, courgettes and – if you have a greenhouse – tomatoes and chillies. Cauliflower, pumpkins, carrots and onions are often cheaper at the supermarket

4. Add foliage to your patio

Grow fragrant lilies in pots to perfume your patio. Choose elongated ‘long tom’ pots, especially for taller types that root from the stem. Support trumpet types such as L. longiflorum, ‘Golden Spendour’ and ‘African Queen’ with wire hoops or bamboo canes.

5. Feed your soil

Mulch more. Compost, leaf mould, straw or composted bark spread around plants after weeding will ‘feed’ soil, lock in moisture and suppress weeds. A two-to-three-inch layer is ideal.

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6. Introduce perennial herbs

For a display that really is good enough to eat, mix tough attractive perennial herbs into beds and borders. Bay, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano and marjoram need sun. Mint, sorrel, lemon balm, chives and biennial parsley tolerate semi-shade.

7. Weed regularly

Weed early and often. Doing 20 minutes a week in spring means more deckchair time in summer.

8. Avoid thirsty plants

Thirst is the biggest cause of poorly performing plants, so water them regularly in dry spells for bigger and better flowers, fruit and leafy vegetables.

9. Warm soil for sowing

For successful outdoor sowings of vegetables such as carrots and leeks, warm soil is essential. This is particularly important with thick clay soils that warm up slowly. Cover your plot with black or clear plastic sheeting two weeks before sowing to help get early crops off to a flying start. Don’t worry if weeds start to germinate underneath – this is a sign you’re doing it right! Just hoe them off before you sow.

10. Annual herbs from pot plants

Annual herbs such as coriander and basil are tricky to grow from seed, so instead split supermarket pot plants in half and pot in fresh compost, which will last for weeks. Feed from below, standing them in a saucer of water for best results.