Tuesday, 29 March 2011

April is upon us my gardening buddies.

Ah yes, and so, as quick as a wink, the month has past and April is upon as with a vengeance.  Your early veg seeds should be coming up through the compost now and if not, get cracking!   Tomatoes, peppers, seed potatoes and herbs can all be planted now if you have not yet.

·                     Sprinkle fertiliser around roses.
·                     Pick faded flowers from daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and other spring bulbs.
·                     Sow sweet peas outdoors or harden off and plant out autumn-sown seedlings.
·                     Plant gladioli at fortnightly intervals to get a succession of flowers.
·                     Take cuttings from new shoots of herbaceous perennials like lupins and delphiniums.
·                     Prune winter-flowering jasmine.
·                     Dead head primulas, pansies and other winter-bedding plants.
·                     Sow annual grassed like hare’s tail, quaking grass, millet and sorghum.
·                     Grow onions and shallots from sets.
·                     Cover outdoor strawberries with cloches to encourage earlier flowering.
·                     Plant maincrop potatoes, asparagus crowns and Jerusalem artichokes.
·                     Be on the lookout for greenfly on the new shoots of fruit trees and bushes.
·                     Protect seedlings from slugs and snails using barriers like grit or copper.
·                     Tie in the new stems developing on raspberries and other cane fruits.
·                     Keep fleece or netting handy to protect crops from pigeons and pests.
·                     Order vegetable plants from mail order suppliers as soon as possible.
·                     Sow grass or lay turf.
·                     Dig dandelions and other weeds out of the lawn.
·                     Don’t disturb nesting birds.
·                     Treat fences and other timber structures with preservatives.
·                     Pressure wash paths and patios.
·                     Mulch along the bottom of  hedges and around shrubs, roses and fruit.
·                     Remove suckers from around trees and shrubs.
·                     Watch out for early aphids and other pests.
·                     Take out pansies and other winter bedding plants.
·                     Make sure patio containers don’t dry out.

… to cut back spring flowering shrubs like flowering currant immediately after final flowers have faded.   These hardy shrubs flower on wood produced the previous year, so cut back all stems that carried blooms to promote new growth, which will carry flowers next spring.  Take this opportunity to cut back overgrown specimens and control their size;

… to keep mint, comfrey, lemon balm and other spreading herbs in check.  Divide plants every 1-2 years, as otherwise they become invasive.  Pot up divisions and give them as a spring gift to friends and family.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Its March and the sun is shining!

The sun has come out, from hiding, after many a dull week and the natural world around us responds!   The buds on the trees are swelling and the bulbs have begun to bloom.   Its time to get out in the garden.   Things to be getting on with now are:

·                     Sow sweet peas in pots or directly outside in prepared ground.
·                     Plant new border plants.
·                     Pull faded lower leaves cleanly from stems of cordylines.
·                     Plant gladioli corms outside at 2 week intervals from late March.
·                     Apply fertiliser round the base of roses and shrubs,
·                     Prepare soil where you intend to sow hardy annuals next month.
·                     Cut away the dead woody stems of hardy fuchsias.
·                     Spray fruit trees and bushes with fungicide to prevent diseases like powdery mildew.
·                     Plant Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus and rhubarb crowns.
·                     Keep newly-planted fruit well watered through spring.
·                     Sprinkle high-potash fertiliser around the base of fruit trees, bushes and canes,
·                     Place cloches over beds to warm the soil ready for early sowings.
·                     Plant onion sets and shallots.
·                     Plant dahlia tubers in large pots and use new shoots as cuttings.
·                     Sow tender bedding plants and annual climbers like morning glory.
·                     Ventilate the greenhouse on warm days.
·                     Sow dwarf beans in large pots of moisture retentive compost for an early crop.
·                     Order seedlings and other young plants from bedding suppliers.

Don't forget to cut down colourful stems of dogwoods that you’ve enjoyed over winter.   They can be trimmed down to a woody stump.    Avoid pruning or disturbing hedges and shrubs where birds could be nesting and tread carefully through your borders so as not to damage emerging bulbs and perennials.

It is also time to cut lawns during dry periods, setting blades high (around 4-5cm), until the the weather warms up a bit more.   Remember, we can still have frosts.

Clean out and turn on pumps and filtering equipment if you have ponds or water features and divide large water lilies or other pond plants.   Do it soon as the frogs toads and newts will be keen to start spawning soon.


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Autumn Days

Now that the foliage has begun to turn to all the beautiful colours of autumn, let us prepare for the deluge of leaves that soon will fall.   It is time to set aside some space to store all the fallen leaves and to let them rot down into leaf mould.   This is a great addition for the soil in the summer beds as it releases nutrients and helps keep the soil loose where it is clay and helps retain moisture where it is sandy.  

Simply fill an empty composter with the leaves and add composting activator.   Black plastic bags filled with fallen leaves works just as well as a composter if you don't have one, when left to one side.

As your deciduous shrubs and trees become bare and their skeletal shapes appear, take the opportunity to weed out any weeds that were once hidden by their foliage, around their roots.   This is also the perfect time to remove dead or diseased branches and any over crowded limbs that may be rubbing or simply making the plant look unbalanced.

 It is a good time to asses the size of the plant in comparison to the rest of the garden layout and reduce the crowns and regain lost space and reduce over crowding of companion plants.

Finally, give your hedges a cut before winter, so that they may be neat until the warm weather returns and so that you don't disturb the nesting birds in spring.

Monday, 27 September 2010

As the days draw in.

As the last few days of September roll by and the days grow shorter still, it becomes apparent to Garden Boy that it is time to start propagation.

As we cut away at spent blooms and remove weak and diseased plant stems, we can once again see how our perennial plants have performed over the year.   For those that have done well and put on good mass, cuttings can be made and root balls can be divided, before the cold sets in.   For plants like Hostas and Agapanthus that have dense fleshy root balls, splitting with a sharp knife is a good idea.   For Asters and Leucanthemums Garden Boy would usually split them  with a spade or two forks back to back.   Each of these parts of the original root mass has the potential to produce a new plant.   Remove the older woody bit that was the original centre, as this tends to be less vigorous.

Plant these potential additions into pots with new compost and grit for drainage or back into the garden beds where they are required with a good dose of fresh compost, bone meal and micorrhizal fungi powder, all available from garden centres.   This will give them a good start before they burst back into life next spring

Do the same with your herbs like thyme, oregano, chives, salad burnett and mint.