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.