Gardening top tips

Spring is a great time to get out into the garden. Missed our twitter and instagram garden Q&A session? Our followers submitted some fantastic questions which our gardeners Graham and Greg answered with some top tips and advice to help.

Growing

I’m currently growing my favourite veggie, aubergines, for the first time in my greenhouse. They are in pots and will need to be transferred soon - any handy tips? Aubergines are like peppers - put them out in the garden after any risk of frost (May/June) as they’re not very hardy. Put them in sunny location and give them lots of food (a nitrogen based fertiliser is good). Keep them in a glasshouse if possible as they like the heat.

They take time though, so it could take a few years for it to really start to look good so be patient. Make sure you pick a good variety too and take your time choosing!

The Kitchen Garden showing a close up of rows of lettuce (salad leaves) (vegetable crop) growing, May 2014.

Can you advise any good seeds to try and grow with kids at this time of the year please?
Salad crops are great in containers and raised beds such as lettuce and radish. You want a plant with quick results. Cress is particularly great - it's very hardy, you can grow it in anything on a windowsill, and within a week you're putting it in a sandwich!

We cannot grow mint without it developing an unpleasant white mould - any advice?
Mint likes to be in full sun, although it isn’t fussy about its soil type. It might be you are overwatering it, or it is in the wrong place in your garden and it’s too shady for it. Best of luck!

Do you have any tips for growing artichokes? The artichoke plants at Hampton Court are huge - much bigger than mine! What's your secret?
We love our artichokes! They need to be growing in full sun and are hungry feeders so when they’re beginning to grow give them loads of organic matter e.g horse manure or mushroom compost. They don’t like to be in a wet, heavy soil either.

A Hampton Court Palace gardener pots seeds in the potting shed. Showing close-ups of a hand preparing seeds in soil.

Lawns

What’s the best way to level ground to put turf on?
If you have access to one, a rotavator can be used which will make it quick! Alternatively, dig over the area with a fork to fluff it up & use a wide landscaping rake to level the soil. Firm it with your heel & re-rake it to create a finer finish. Then lay your turf from one side to the other, and work off wooden boards (rather than standing on the turf!)

How do we keep our lawn lush green all the way through the summer?
You'll want to spread a bit of seed over it to germinate the lawn and make it green & lush. In spring, add a slow release fertiliser which will gradually add food to the turf right through to summer. If it’s dry over the summer, try and irrigate your lawn once a week!

The Glen Lawn, 22 May 2019. Showing pink rhododendrons in bloom on the left of the image.

Flowers

My patio rose bush appears to have suffered, only a couple of buds and some dead branches. What can I do to revive it?
It might need more food (a regular feed every 3-4 weeks) to get it to flower

It also needs to be pruned regularly to get a goblet shaped appearance. Here's our video about the rose garden at Hampton Court which has some tips too.

I need to transplant miniature rose bushes from a smaller container as they aren’t blooming. How do I decide what size pot is needed?
Use the rule of finger – a pot that you can put the width of your fingers across down either side. Use a soil-based compost and feed and water it regularly. When the flowers are finished, nip them off with a pair of scissors to keep it going for longer.