The Gardening Year – March 2019
It has been a very mild Spring so far and many trees and shrubs have been in flower much earlier than usual, this early flowering was certinately helped as a result of last year’s exceptional summer. We live in hope of another warm spell and with that in mind now is the time to get the garden into shape for those lazy months ahead.
Trees and Shrubs
It has gone a bit late to plant bare root trees and hedging plants, now that the growth has begun however don’t worry if you think that you have missed the boat all plants are sold in containers now and can be planted the whole year through. Beech makes a lovely hedge but is very fussy and benefits from a rich well drained soil while laurel is very good in cold exposed areas and will suffer low temperatures, its leaves turn yellow if its roots are too wet and yellow if they are too dry, so try and establish what the underlying problem is as early as possible and rectify it and you can be assured of a very reliable evergreen barrier.
Check ties and stakes on trees as we have had our fair share of wind and it loosens them in the soil and weakens the root anchor Feed them with pelleted poultry manure or good well rotted farm yard manure, any sick looking plants would benefit from a diluted spray of liquid seaweed on their foliage, it works like a drip and if used every three weeks you will see great results.
All bush roses should be pruned by mid March , these can safely be cut back 12'' from soil level remove any crossing or diseased branches too, then give them a small handful of rose food scatter it around the plant about 6'' from the base to allow the feeding roots to soak it up. Keep a look out for black spot and green fly on leaves and begin spraying, many roses have a good covering of leaves already this year so begin spraying straight away and do it every 10 days, always spray in late evening when bees are finished working .
Prepare vegetable seed beds by removing all weeds and forking in plenty of compost. Cover prepared soil with sheets of black plastic to keep it drier and warmer in preparation for planting.
Buy seed potatoes and begin chitting them this is very easy to do place them on a tray, space them out evenly and put them in a warm dark place until little sprouts of growth appear, then they are ready for planting.
Plant onion shallots and garlic sets provided the soil isn't frozen or waterlogged.
Vegetable seeds such as carrots, radishes and lettuce can be sown direct in poly tunnels and glasshouses or outdoors under cloches, Tomatoes cabbage etc. can all be sown now indoors on a windowsill, keep a close eye on watering, too much and the baby plants will topple over and die.
Now is the time to choose and sow flower and vegetable seeds indoors or in a glasshouse or tunnel, a propagator is probably the best way to do this with some of the more difficult types such as begonia or bizzy Lizzy, however marigolds pansy, petunia etc. will easily grow on a warm windowsill, lift them onto a table in the room at night to protect them from frost, always use a good quality compost, a good multi-purpose one works very well and provides all the necessary nutrients.