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Gardener’s World Review – 20th May 2011


  • Planting and Supporting Tomatoes

  • Mediterranean planting in pots

  • Jobs for this week

  • Pergola problems

  • Visits a garden with a difference



In Longmeadow it’s time to plant out the tomatoes in the greenhouse. He explains how usually just putting one cane in to support each plant simply isn’t enough and of course by the time the plant grows and bears fruit, it’s so heavy that they have usually gone lopsided!

He has built a framework of bamboo tied together to provide a strong framework for the plants and which will stand up to supporting the adult plants.

How close?

When it comes to wondering how close together to plant the tomatoes as obviously the more you can fit in, the more crop you’ll get but it’s hard to know how close together you can plant them without being detrimental to the plant through competing for light, nutrients and water.

The fact is you can plant them really quite close together, as long as the roots have room to grow in every direction.

Dishing the dirt

The soil in the greenhouse has previously been used for salad crops and Monty has simply added some garden compost to it to provide enough nutrients to support the tomatoes. Of course they will be fed as well.


Two types of tomato are grown in this greenhouse. One is ‘San Marzano’ which is a plum like shape, and the other is ‘Costoluto Fiorentino’ which is a large tomato although not quite as large as a beef tomato. This variety in particular has a number of uses from sauces to salads.

How deep to plant

If like me you always planted out the tomato to the depth of the pot and then wondered why they were a touch unstable then you will be glad to hear that the solution is quite simple.

Tomatoes should be planted to the depth of the first real leaves; the stem below will grow extra roots to anchor the plant in place with less wobbling. Thank goodness for such a simple solution!

They will also bear more fruit for you because the increased root surface area means the plant can take in more nutrients and water.

Origins of the tomato

Contrary to what most of us assume, that is; that tomatoes hail from the Mediterranean. They actually originate in Central and South America so the ideal conditions for them are damp and humid and of course warm.

Monty also plants some basil alongside the tomatoes, explaining that the condition of the basil is a good indicator of how happy your tomatoes are. Whilst they don’t come from the same place geographically, their origins mean that they suit the same type of conditions.

What a grafter!

‘Grafted’ tomato plants have recently become available to us amateur gardeners. These are one variety of tomato grafted onto the rootstock of another, perhaps hardier plant.

An example Monty uses is ‘Shirley’ which due to the fact that it is a grafted plant will last longer, fruit earlier, and grow bigger and hardier. When planting this type of tomato the rules are slightly different – you should always plant to the same depth of the pot and not bury the graft point.

Planting Mediterranean style

The great thing about planting in pots is that they then become portable. In this way slightly less hardy plants can be enjoyed in the summer and moved to sheltered spots out of the worst of the weather in autumn and winter.

Also, if you’re like me and love to arrange them constantly –that’s another bonus!


Monty plants Pelagonias in terracotta pots. Pelagonias are of course famous for their scent – merely brushing against the plants releases a super scent.

When planting Pelagonias it should be remembered that in order to get the very best from them their roots should be slightly constricted. With this in mind, two plants are put into each pot.

When it comes to soil type, these plants like well drained but fairly rich soil. The mixture Monty uses is general purpose peat free compost, grit and ¼ - 1/5 sieved garden soil.


We’re all familiar with Lavender, which really is a true Mediterranean plant which loves sunshine, great drainage and poor soil.

When potting up Lavender Monty recommends a potting mix with extra grit. Garden compost with peat in should never be used for Lavender as it is too acidic – Lavender loves alkaline soil.

Jobs for this week
  • Tie in and untangle the tendrils of Clematis as they grow

  • Lift and divide any Primroses you are lucky enough to have in your garden

  • Pick out growing tips of Dahlias to encourage side shoots and hence more flowers


Pergola Problems

Today’s ‘clinic’ goes to Mere in Wiltshire where a lady is having trouble deciding what to plant around her rather large wooden pergola.

First take your pergola…

As the pergola can be seen from the sitting room as well as when they are out in the garden, Carol agrees that a super feature should be made of this sturdy wooden pergola.

At the moment a few small plants are grown around it, none of which really suits or does justice to either the pergola or themselves.

Dress your pergola

Having been a florist myself I adore ivy for all its different uses but to some people it may feature alongside weeds! Carol however obviously shares my view as she recommends a mixture of dark green variegated ivy to climb up the pergola giving it a rather dramatic effect.

She also suggests that to give colour they could also consider planting something like ‘Morning Glory’ with its rich purple flowers or even Sweet Peas to make full use of this charming structure.


Joe visits a superb garden in East Sussex where the designer Ian Kitson has made the garden echo and melt into the countryside around it.

This garden is full of sweeping curves and beguiling sunken walkways which lead down to a pond at the very bottom.

Made from the natural limestone which abounds in the area the garden does not look out of place with the house which is also made of the same materials. In my view (but not being an expert of course!) the stone in the garden needs to weather a lot more in order to truly be in keeping with the residence.

The garden consists of a contemporary sunken area as a centrepiece, from which leads a winding path to the pond. The centrepiece is a super place to sit and look out over the surrounding countryside and I suspect that being sunken it is also sheltered from the wind.

This garden and others like it are open on the 26th of May so it would be well worth your while to visit one if there is any in your area.

Other gardens open to the public on the 26th May are in Winchcombe, St Neots and Southwark.

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