Last weekend, a large garden centre in Auckland called Kings Plant Barn had their annual stock take sale, discounting all plants by 30%. I couldn’t resist but go to purchase a few plants to replace ones that unfortunately died in the garden. I also wanted to purchase some seedlings as it’s hard to raise plants from seed in the middle of winter. With the winter Solstice behind us, the timing to plant couldn’t be more perfect as the days are gradually getting longer.
I was completely bowled away by the cheerful instant potted colour in store. I decided instantly to make some hanging baskets for our outdoor patio with furniture infront of our house, where we often have afternoon tea. This little sanctuary is surrounded by our mini orchard and feels cosy and private, even though we are merely footsteps from the Great South Road. The store had lots of hanging baskets as examples. They’re incredibly easy to make. All you need is a coconut fibre hanging basket, some black plastic, potting mix and some plants. Line the black plastic inside the basket, making holes so that excess water can drain from the bottom and sides of the basket. Next, fill with potting mix. If you’re making hanging baskets in summer, you might want to add some water storage crystals or a product such as saturaid which help to retain moisture. As it’s winter and has been raining virtually every day, this isn’t necessary at this time of the year. You can place the plants close together so there are no gaps. My hanging baskets are 41 cm in diameter so are quite large, but I do have smaller ones that are 30 cm in diameter. You can also get plastic hanging baskets. I have one that looks like it was made of terracotta. They are fine for growing a range of ornamentals and edibles in. Did you know that hanging baskets don’t necessarily need to hang? They look stunning placed in a line in a patio or along the edge of the garden.
I planted polyanthus and pansies in my hanging baskets for winter, as you can see from the photos. You can also plant edibles in hanging baskets. I have planted lettuce and herbs successfully in my hanging baskets in the past. Last summer, I grew cherry tomatoes in them. I highly recommend the varieties Tumbling Tom Red and Tumbling Tom Yellow from Egmont Seeds. I grew both varieties and they were more productive than our cherry tomatoes in the ground. They can get quite bushy, so we hung them up over the ends of our washing line and the branches and tomatoes spilled over the edges. I highly recommend planting some basil to accompany tomatoes as it really brings out their flavour. Every summer I grow the variety Sweet Genovese, also from Egmont Seeds. There is nothing better than having some tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, cracked black pepper, sea salt and torn basil leaves spread over them.