Archive for the ‘March’ Category


March Gardening Tips 2016 – Welcome to spring

The first day of spring is here. Hooray! No rain for the last couple of weeks which means that the soil is starting to dry out and we can finally get onto the borders to do some gardening. Why not spoil yourself with a trip to your local garden centre and pick up a couple pots of pre-grown daffodils, guaranteed to brighten up the garden and bring light into your life after such a dull winter. INSTANT SPRING!

1. Prune your roses. Now’s the time to prune your rose bushes if you haven’t already done so. Don’t get too stressed about the technical side. What you should do is prune back to an outward facing bud, taking the bush down to about half to a third of its height. You should also prune away any dead or diseased stems and burn them and prune away any stems that cross each other. You are aiming for a good open bush. This isn’t something to worry about too much – I know of at least one rose grower who does his rose pruning with a hedge trimmer and it doesn’t affect the flowering one bit.
2. Tidy up frost and snow damaged plants. Prune out the dead bits from tender shrubs and climbers such as choisyas and solanums. Cut out bent leaves from phormiums and take out the dead brown leaves.
3. Prune buddleias and dogwoods. Ideal time for cutting back Buddleia davidii to encourage flowering. Some plants that have got out of hand may need to have quite a bit taken off. Cut back the colourful stemmed dogwoods such as the red Cornus Alba. If you cut the stems back almost to the ground (15cm) it will ensure a new lot of colourful stems for next winter.
4. Trim your grasses. We always give our ornamental grasses a haircut this time of year, ready for the new verdant growth to push through. Don’t cut too low only down to about 15cm. Good time for trimming back pampas grasses; we take a hedge trimmer to it or if you are in an appropriate location set light to it to take it to take off the dead bits and encourage new growth.
5. Lift and shift your perennials. Good time for dividing and moving herbaceous perennials such as Phlox, Asters, Rudbeckia and Alchemila
6. If you want to transplant Snowdrops, a good time to do this is after they have flowered when they are still ‘in the green’.
7. Get out and dig over your bare soil now that the conditions are right if you haven’t already done so. For most vegetables you want to aim for a consistancy of coarse breadcrumbs before you sow.
8. Start to sow some veg seed outside such as lettuce, raddish and cabbage
9. Onion sets can be planted out now.
10. Chitting Potatoes – To get your potatoes growing away better, you should chit them to encourage sprouting. To do this place in a tray or egg box and keep somewhere bright and cool for a couple of weeks. Put them ‘rose-end’ up (The end with the dormant eyes upwards). Earlies you can think about planting out at the end of the month

11. Plant lily bulbs ready for the summer
12. Get the mower out and make sure it works. You may also want to think about a spring lawn treatment for next month

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March Gardening Tips 2015

Polyanthus 'Cheshire Life'

HERE we are at the start of March and at last you can see the signs of spring. The blackthorn blossom is out in the hedgerows, as are the primroses, the snowdrops are still flowering their socks off, the dazzling daffodils are shining through the gloom and the birds are happily chirping away as they build their nests. But before we get too giddy with spring fever remember that it’s not too late to get a covering of snow, so tread carefully in the garden.

  1. Prune your roses. Now’s the time to prune your rose bushes if you haven’t already done so. Don’t get too stressed about the technical side. What you should do is prune back to an outward facing bud, taking the bush down to about half to a third of its height. You should also prune away any dead or diseased stems and burn them and prune away any stems that cross each other. You are aiming for a good open bush. This isn’t something to worry about too much – I know of at least one rose grower who does his rose pruning with a hedge trimmer and it doesn’t affect the flowering one bit.
  2. Tidy up frost  damaged plants. Prune out the dead bits from tender shrubs and climbers such as choisyas and solanums. Cut out bent leaves from phormiums and take out the dead brown leaves. Ceanothus have been particularly hit badly with the cold; be patient although they are looking brown now, they should come back.
  3. Prune buddleias and dogwoods. Ideal time for cutting back Buddleia davidii to encourage flowering. Some plants that have got out of hand may need to have quite a bit taken off. Cut back the colourful stemmed dogwoods such as the red Cornus Alba. If you cut the stems back almost to the ground (15cm) it will ensure a new lot of colourful stems for next winter.
  4. Trim your grasses. We always give our ornamental grasses a haircut this time of year, ready for the new verdant growth to push through. Don’t cut too low only down to about 15cm. Good time for trimming back pampas grasses; we take a hedge trimmer to it or if you are in an appropriate location set light to it to take it to take off the dead bits and encourage new growth.
  5. Lift and shift your perennials. Good time for dividing and moving herbaceous perennials such as Phlox, Asters, Rudbeckia and Alchemila
  6. If you want to transplant snowdrops, a good time to do this is after they have flowered when they are still ‘in the green’.
  7. Get out and dig over your bare soil when it’s dry enough to do so. For most vegetables you want to aim for a consistancy of coarse breadcrumbs before you sow.
  8. Start to sow some veg seed outside such as lettuce, raddish and cabbage
  9. Onion sets can be planted out now.
  10. Chitting Potatoes – To get your potatoes growing away better, you should chit them to encourage sprouting. To do this place in a tray or egg box and keep somewhere bright and cool for a couple of weeks. Put them ‘rose-end’ up (The end with the dormant eyes upwards). Earlies you can think about planting out at the end of the month
  11. Get the mower out and make sure it works. You may also want to think about a spring lawn treatment for next month.
  12. Plant lily bulbs ready for the summer.

 

Love your watering can to beat the hose pipe ban

Top 10 Tips for Coping with the Hose Pipe Ban

With the prospect of hose pipe bans soon becoming a reality in many parts of our region we have put together our top 10 tips to help you cope. Living without your hose pipe isn’t the end of the world; now’s the time to embrace your watering can, your new best friend.

1. Collect rain water with water butts- some plants such as rhododendrons and camellias actually prefer it. If you haven’t got one it’s a really good idea to get one if not two.

2. Water at the right time of day – Water either first thing in the morning or later on in the evening. This will reduce water loss from evaporation.

3. Recycle bath and washing water for watering the garden– (so-called ‘grey water’) – If you want to recycle this sort of water it’s best if you use organic or environmentally friendly natural products for washing in the first place so that it doesn’t harm your plants when you reuse it.

4. Group pots together in the shade and stand them in saucers. If it gets really hot you might also have to take down any hanging baskets  and stick them in the shade as well.

5. Dig in plenty of organic matter to help the soil lock in moisture when it does rain and consider mulching your borders with manure or garden compost.

Dig in plenty of manure and consider mulching

6. Don’t worry too much about watering your lawns. Established grass is incredibly tough and will green up again in the autumn. (You will still need to water newly laid turf if you can. If not you’ll have to leave any turfing jobs until the autumn).

7. Water the base of the plants, not the foliage – This way it goes straight to the soil where it’s needed. Make a puddle around each plant and water slowly to allow the water to seep down to the roots.

8. Choose plants that tolerate dry conditions. Examples below;

Dry and Sunny-

Perennials

 Generally, plants with a tough, silvery leaf such as cistus, lavender, lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina), Russian sage (Perovskia), dianthus, phlomis, rosemary and thyme will all do well in the sun and many will give the added bonus of a fabulous scent. They originate from the Mediterranean and they all are used basking in the sun. Other plants that will do well are iris germanica, alliums, thrift, coreopsis, agapanthus and gaillardia.

Stachys spp. - Good for dry sunny sites

Bedding Plants

Geraniums and osteospernums and petunias are the most draught tolerant of the summer bedding plants

Dry and Shadey -

A bit more tricky but it is not impossible to overcome. Top of the list is the Epimedium rubrum, a great little plant with a pinky purple flower, and then there is Mahonia aquifolium or Oregon Grape which is an evergreen shrub with fragrant yellow flowers in late spring.  Periwinkles (Vinca), elephant’s ears, liriope and butcher’s broom (Ruscus) will also do O.K. For foliage colour go for the many euonymus varieties such as ‘Emerald and Gold’ or ‘Silver Queen’ or try the Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Album’ which has a great white flower and will do well in dry shade.

Euonymus 'Silver-Queen' - Once established can tolerate dry and shady conditions

9. To try to reduce the need for watering in the first place get the secateurs out and cut back the excess foliage on your perennials, this will keep them bushy and reduce the watering burden.

10. Keep the weeds down as much as possible as they can be nutrient and moisture robbers, taking away much needed water from your cherished perennials.

www.woolcottandsmith.com

Jobs for March 2012

 

Well,  there’s a whiff of spring in the air! The soil is starting to dry out and we can finally get onto the borders to do some gardening. Herbaceous plants are starting to emerge, the blackthorn blossom is nearly out in the hedgerows and the daffodils are bringing some much needed sunshine into our gardens.

  1. Prune your roses. Now’s the time to prune your rose bushes if you haven’t already done so. Don’t get too stressed about the technical side. What you should do is prune back to an outward facing bud, taking the bush down to about half to a third of its height. You should also prune away any dead or diseased stems and burn them and prune away any stems that cross each other. You are aiming for a good open bush. This isn’t something to worry about too much – I know of at least one rose grower who does his rose pruning with a hedge trimmer and it doesn’t affect the flowering one bit.
  2. Tidy up frost and snow damaged plants. Prune out the dead bits from tender shrubs and climbers such as choisyas and solanums. Cut out bent leaves from phormiums and take out the dead brown leaves. Ceanothus have been particularly hit badly with the cold; be patient although they are looking brown now, they should come back.
  3. Prune buddleias and dogwoods. Ideal time  for cutting back Buddleia davidii to encourage flowering. Some plants that have got out of hand may need to have quite a bit taken off. Cut back the colourful stemmed dogwoods such as the red Cornus Alba. If you cut the stems back almost to the ground (15cm) it will ensure a new lot of colourful stems for next winter.
  4. Trim your grasses. We always give our ornamental grasses a haircut this time of year, ready for the new verdant growth to push through. Don’t cut too low only down to about 15cm. Good time for trimming back pampas grasses; we take a hedge trimmer to it or if you are in an appropriate location set light to it to take it to take off the dead bits and encourage new growth.
  5. Lift and shift your perennials. Good time for dividing and moving herbaceous perennials such as Phlox, Asters, Rudbeckia and Alchemila
  6. If you want to transplant Snowdrops, a good time to do this is after they have flowered when they are still ‘in the green’.
  7. Get out and dig over your bare soil now that the conditions are right if you haven’t already done so. For most vegetables you want to aim for a consistancy of coarse breadcrumbs before you sow.
  8. Start to sow some veg seed outside such as lettuce, raddish and cabbage
  9. Onion sets can be planted out now.
  10. Chitting Potatoes – To get your potatoes growing away better, you should chit them to encourage sprouting. To do this place in a tray or egg box and keep somewhere bright and cool for a couple of weeks. Put them ‘rose-end’ up (The end with the dormant eyes upwards). Earlies you can think about planting out at the end of the month
  11. Get the mower out and make sure it works. You may also want to think about a spring lawn treatment for next month.
  12. Plant lily bulbs ready for the summer.
Our Gardening Week – Spring has Sprung! (6th March 2009)

Its been a good gardening week this week for us here in Hertfordshire, although not for everyone in other parts of the country.  The weather has been reasonably kind to us and we have dodged most of the heavy showers. It’s been good to get stuck into some gardening projects and we have just finished planting some new borders in a country garden. The grass is starting to grow as the temperatures have started to rise and its started to throw off it’s winter yellows. The mower came out for the first time this week and the lawns look better for a cut, keeping them sharp and tidy. The scillas in my front garden have just come out, as have my fabulous iris reticulata (what a beaufiful and elegant plant!) and at long last the daffs have started to spring into life. Hooray!  Hooray!  Hooray!

Make an Easter Nest Centrepiece
 

Have a go at making a simple Easter Nest centrepiece for your Easter breakfast table. Its colourful and fun and you can get the kids involved. Even better you can eat the display. (Easter Sunday is 12th April this year)

Step 1 – Get a plastic seed tray and fill part way with compost

Step 2 – Cover with turf and plant some miniature daffodils, a hyacinth and some colourful primroses through it at one end.

Step 3 – Hard boil some eggs and then colour them with edible food colouring. White eggs take the colour best

Step 4 – Place the eggs on the turf and sprinkle chocolate mini-eggs randomly around them

When to plant trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs and vegetables

When to Plant

 In general, you can plant trees and shrubs all year round as long as the soil isn’t frozen, covered with snow or waterlogged. Bear in mind though that if we have a hot summer and it is really dry you will need to keep the plants well watered. This applies to container grown plants, bare-rooted plants should be planted in the autumn when the soil is still warm.

 Planting Trees

 The best time to plant trees is late autumn to early spring (October to March) when they are in a dormant state. Most apple trees are planted October to December.

Prepare the soil a couple of weeks before planting by digging in plenty of organic material. To plant simply dig a hole large enough to take the roots, generally twice the size of the pot, place the tree in the hole and cover the roots with soil up to the surrounding ground level. Trees should be planted in a square hole to encourage even rooting. The tree should be planted to the same depth as it was in the pot and not any deeper – the biggest cause of tree death is planting too deeply. Having planted the tree, firm down the soil using your boots to ensure the soil is in good contact with the roots and water well to wash the soil in around its roots.

(Note – when planting fruit trees the graft union should be at least 3-4 inches above soil level).

If necessary the tree should be staked, with the stake being driven into the soil at a 45 degree angle, being careful not to go through the root ball. Tie the trunk to the stake using plastic tree ties available from the garden centre. Do not use wire or string as this will cut into the tree trunk with time and damage it. You will need to check the ties in the first couple of years to ensure that they don’t become too tight.

Planting Shrubs

 You can’t go far wrong if you plant evergreens in early to mid-autumn or mid to late spring, and deciduous shrubs between mid-autumn and early spring when soil and weather conditions are favourable. Good soil preparation is important and it is a good idea to dig in good organic matter before you plant to give them a good start. Dig a hole about twice the size of the pot that the plant is in and loosely fork over the bottom of the hole. Tease out the roots so they are encouraged to grow into the surrounding soil and plant to the same level as they are in the pot and then back fill the hole with soil and firm in. Some shrubs should be planted slightly deeper such as roses and clematis, roses to cover the union of the graft and clematis to discourage wilt but on the whole most shrubs shouldn’t be planted too deeply. Rhododendrons for example always do better if not planted too deeply, as do phormiums, if in doubt check the label. Water in well.

 Planting Perennials

 Generally, perennials can be planted during autumn or spring, although containerised plants can go in at any time provided the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. Make sure that the root balls are thoroughly soaked before planting, if really dry soak in a bucket for a few minutes. Dig the planting hole of a shape and size to allow the roots to spread comfortably, and at a depth to the level of the crown – the point where the stems and roots join. Firm the plant in and water thoroughly if the soil is dry.

 Planting Annuals

 Annuals can be planted mid-spring to early summer, depending on the location and the type of plant. Begin with the hardier ones, such as sweet peas and pansies, and finish with the more tender types such as pelargoniums and fuchsias when the danger of frost has subsided. Before planting, water the containers and allow the plants to absorb the moisture before moving them. During dry periods, puddle them in – fill the planting hole with water and allow it to soak in, then set the plant in place and fill the hole with soil.

 Planting Bulbs

Spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils and crocus should be planted in the autumn preferably by the end of September. Tulips are best planted in November but can be left to December at a push. As a general rule plant the bulb at a depth that is 3 times the  size of the bulb itself ( if a bulb is 1 inch in size then there should be 3 inches from the surface to the top of the bulb). Plant in groups rather than singly. Dig a hole to the required planting depth and then space them at least twice the bulb’s own height and width apart. Carefully replace the soil and gently firm with the back of a rake.

Planting and Sowing vegetables

Growing vegetables from seed can be quite challenging, but basically the thing to remember is not to sow them too early, not too deeply and not too thickly. Sowing also depends on whether you sow indoors or outdoors directly in the soil. Decide on what you want to grow and have a good look at the seed packets for detailed growing information. You also may not want to grow from seed but buy plants from the garden centre if you are short of time and grow them on. Consider growing heritage varieties of veg such as purple peas (Lancashire Lad) or white carrots (White Belgium)

Sowing seed outdoors – Prepare the seed bed in early spring, wait until the soil dries out and doesn’t stick to your boots. Dig over the area you want to plant into (in some cases you will have done this already in the winter) and break down the clods of soil with the back of a fork. Rake level, removing large stones, aiming for the soil to have a consistency of coarse breadcrumbs.

Mark out the row with a taut piece of string and with the edge of a hoe draw out a drill to the depth recommended for the vegetable to be sown. Water the row before sowing, once sown cover the seed gently with soil with back of a rake.

Sowing seed indoors – Choose plastic rather than wooden containers, using trays, small pots or cellular trays and use a seed or multi-purpose compost. Firm the compost in place and water it. Sow according to the instructions on the packet. Do not cover very fine seed with compost. Other seeds should be covered with compost or vermiculite to a depth which is twice the diameter of the seed. Most seeds require a fairly warm temperature to germinate (about 70 degrees F). If you haven’t got access to a greenhouse most seed can germinate on the windowsill of a central heated room. Keep well watered with a fine sprayer ensuring the compost doesn’t dry out.

As soon as the first set of true leaves have opened the seedlings should be pricked out into small pots or cellular trays. Once they get to this stage high temperatures are not required and 50-55 degrees are OK. When the seedlings have recovered from the pricking out move, they must be hardened off to prepare them for life outside. Move to a cold frame and then open on dry frost free days. Later keep them open day and night for 7 days before planting out. Windowsill plantings should be moved into an unheated room before being stood out for a few days prior to planting outside in the garden.

January

  • Sow Bulb Onions seeds under glass

February

  • Sow early Carrot seeds in a cold frame
  • Sow Bulb Onions and Lettuces under glass
  • Sow Beetroot, Spinach and Carrots in the soil, will need protection

March

  • Continue to sow Early Peas and Broad Beans in mild areas
  • Sow Lettuces, Radishes and Spring Onions in the soil
  • Sow Summer Cabbages, Leeks and Brussels Sprouts in a seed bed
  • Sow Tomato seeds in trays or pots and keep at 18°C (65°F)
  • Sow Beetroots, Carrots and Turnips in the soil
  • In the south, plant Early Potatoes and Onion Sets at the end of the month providing the soil is not excessively wet

April

  • Continue to sow Lettuces, Radishes and Spring Onions in the soil
  • Sow Cucumbers, Marrows, Pumpkins and Squashes under glass
  • Sow Winter Cabbages and Late Summer Cauliflowers in a seed bed
  • Continue to plant Onion Sets
  • Plant out Onions grown from seed under glass into the soil
  • Plant out Asparagus crowns (will take 2 years for harvest)
  • Sow leaf beet and chard outside
  • In the north, plant Early Potatoes providing the soil is not excessively wet
  • Plant Main Crop Potatoes
  • Plant Onion Sets and Potatoes in the middle of the month unless the soil is excessively wet
  • Plant Tomatoes in the greenhouse or in cold frame

May

  • Continue to sow Lettuces, Radishes and Spring Onions in the soil
  • In the north, sow Runner Beans under glass
  • Sow French Beans, Runner Beans and Long Rooted Beetroot towards the end of the month when the frost risk has subsided
  • Plant out Late Summer Cauliflowers
  • In the north, plant out Brussels Sprouts
  • Plant out Cucumbers, Marrows, Pumpkins and Squashes towards the end of the month

June

  • Continue to sow French Beans, Peas and salad crops in the soil
  • Continue to plant out Cucumbers, Marrows, Pumpkins and Squashes
  • Plant out Brussels Sprouts and Winter Cabbages
  • Plant out Tomatoes
  • Plant out Leeks

July

  • Continue to sow salad crops in the soil
  • Complete planting Brussels Sprouts, Leeks and Winter Cabbages

August

  • Sow early Spring Cabbages

September

  • Plant out Spring Cabbages towards the end of the month

November

- Sow autumn broad beans such as Aquadulce to provide beans for June

 

 

Adam Gets Poetic – Spring is here !

Spring

By Adam Woolcott

 

Like a feeling you can’t describe, or a smell that defies description or a sound as unique as a sound can be, spring once again ignites me.

 I’m taken back, back to being a child, my anxiety gone, once again I’m free and wild, time has stopped and now I feel as if I can live for ever.

 I’m beguiled and smitten with the magic of spring my happiness is now underwritten. The birds they sing and soon there will be nests to build, and winter’s tortured buds will soon be filled.

 An army of life begins to stir, the daffodil reassures our hearts and new green blades true happiness impart, this is the time, the time to start, a beginning, a reawakening, a debut, a rebirth, a starting afresh, the putting aside of winter’s mess.

 The sky with gentle pinks upon blue, the warm shards of air that will soon become dew, gently strolling in the extra light, days soon longer than the night.

 Like a healing mist that comes from the ground spring is a sight, a taste and a sound. The drying earth forms a crust and ragged grass grows in tufts, frogs croak looking to breed and soon the birds their young they’ll feed.

 This is a time, a time to be alive, bees buzz and hum as they leave the hive, looking for nature’s first splashes of colour and nuts that squirrels hid away begin to germinate in the warmth of the day.

 This amazing time when nature’s still nude is no time to be a prude, the naked branch will soon have it’s cloak, and the towering horse chestnut with blossom will soon be soaked. Once again life makes a start, the warming sun has restarted mine and nature’s heart, so breathe in the air, and take time to stop and stare, oh thank god I’m young again without a care.