Planting in dry conditions – puddling, sometimes old ways are best! 

Well we all do it, don’t we, we know we shouldn’t but we do it no matter what our brains are telling us, yes that’s it,buying plants during the summer months. We know as gardeners, the best time to plant is the spring and autumn months, but how to plant during the summer, when the ground is so dry.  I tried a few different ways before finding this old Victorian method the best way to get the plants established, with a little twist of my own…..  puddling is an old method used in so many different lines of work, basically means mixing clay or soil with water to produce either a soup or a waterproof lining, it used in a slightly different in planting out.

ideally try chose a cooler day, not a really hot day or if that’s not possible, try to plant out either very early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s a little cooler, a cool overcast day would be prefect but life’s not like that is it?

first I like to soak the plant in a bucket, wheelbarrow, small pond, large lake or something holding water that’s deeper than the height of the pot and leave to soak for about 30 minutes until the plant is soaked though

While the plant is soaking, I dig a square whole about twice of the pot adding the soil into a bucket, adding a bit of compost or progrow to the mix as well as a dash of Vitax Q4, give it a good olde mix and set a side. Reason I do a square holes is that roots are trained to go around in circles from an early age, a round hole encourages them to carry on going around in circles while in a square hole it hits the corners and grows out into the open ground.

Next I fill the watering can up with water and add a cap full of liquid seaweed, I love this organic plant food, full of great trace minerals. I think it really helps to get the plants established. Add a bit of water to the bottom of the hole and let it drain out and then flick the spade around in the bottom to puddle it a little

Next fill the hole up with the water and seaweed mix right to the top, add the plant quickly and back fill with the soil mix quickly and don’t firm in, just pat it gently. What happens is the water slowly drains away levelling out the soil in the hole and firming the plant in, in a nice firm way. leave it for about a week before watering anymore. Hopefully the plant will get established quickly and grow away well.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Even without this method, plants should be soaked anyway. I soak even bare deciduous plants during winter, unless significant rain is expected. It settles soil around the roots to keep them safe, even if they will not be active for a while. Of course, in summer, they want to be active right away.

    1. thomashort says:

      Agree totally, it’s always worth soaking the football before planting anything out isn’t m, just helps them get going doesn’t

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Yes, it helps with the transition.

  2. DavidS says:

    Hi Tom and followers,
    As an old Victorian gardener myself – well, these days I feel as though I’m from that era – I can only endorse all that you have to say about ‘puddling’ and the use of seaweed liquid manure. Such a method is essential when summer planting, especially with subjects like those shrubs and roses which look so tempting when in full bloom in their pots. Like tony, I never assume that a plant has been well watered in the nursery. I have yet to buy a plant with a really moist pot ball. Graet to follow you in these days of our isolation. Keep up the good work!

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