Have you got a blooming bad back?
Summer is finally on the horizon: the soil is warming, the cold frame is filling, the plants are hardening off – the question is how are you going to get them in the ground without it hurting?
The tradition method of squatting or bending down and scraping a planting hole with a trowel falls, for many people, into the category of ‘no pain, no gain’. An afternoon of trowel use hurts your wrist and elbows; squatting kills your knees and bending does your back in … but there is a way to fill your borders with flowers and your beds with vegetables without it costing you several visits to a chiropractor.
If you have resisted the temptation to fill every square inch of soil with seedlings the moment Easter has passed, then not only are you going to avoid frosts but your plants are much less likely to get checked by an inclement May – instead of planting out young, tender plants into the soil, pot them on into three-inch pots and harden them off for a couple of weeks.
Not only will you have healthier plants that flower earlier, but this will also enable you to employ a cunning, pain-free method of planting. A three-inch pot pretty much perfectly fills the plug-hole from a bulb planter, and if you invest in a long-handled planter with a foot bar, then it takes very little effort and no bending or digging to make a series of holes into which you can simply drop your mature plants, which then only need to be heeled in.
Another tip is to make sure you keep an edge on the bulb planter – it’s a cutting tool and will go into soil with far less effort if it’s sharp and consider dividing up your planting into twenty-minute sessions: there are plenty of other jobs to be getting on with in between planting out and frequent changes of activity help to avoid physical stress and strain.
It won’t work for absolutely every single plant, but it can be used for everything from runner beans and sweet corn to flowering annuals and box cuttings – and afterwards, you’ll be smiling rather than grimacing!