As we near the end of March I am reminded of the old proverb – “No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow”. No matter how late or early spring arrives in the garden, it is a time of new growth and anticipation but also a time of preparation for the seasons ahead.
As temperatures slowly rise, this is your last chance to plant bare root trees and hedging. Do ensure that you trim any damaged roots and that they are well watered before planting. A good quality compost and a general fertiliser such as Osmo Pro 6 are essential to ensure a healthy start for your plant; make sure to tread the back-filled area firmly (but not too compacted) to ensure no large air pockets remain around the roots. Remember to water in well and keep an eye out that your tree or hedge does not dry out during its first year. If planting trees, make sure to use a strong tree stake, tying it in with a plastic tree tie to prevent rubbing and damage to the bark.
The colourful stems of the dogwoods such as the Cornus alba or the Cornus sanguinea can be cut back hard now to promote fresh brightly coloured new stems. Other shrubs in this category would include the Salix alba (orange stemmed willow) or the Rubus cockburnianus (white stemmed bramble).
For those lucky enough to have space for a greenhouse, it must be cleaned before restocking it with this year’s plants and seedlings. A Forte Fog Fumer is a quick and handy way to get rid of those pests which have been over-wintering in the greenhouse. It should be placed on a fire-resistant surface and you should leave (closing the door) as soon as it is lit. Let the smoke do its work for about 2 hours and then ventilate the area for a few hours or ideally overnight. Always remember to keep your greenhouse tidy of spilled soil/compost and plant debris to reduce the instances of pests and disease.
For those who enjoy growing from seed, getting the correct soil temperature is essential for germination. The Super 7 Electric Windowsill Propagator is small enough for most windowsills and divided into 7 individually vented sections; so you can start off your vegetable seeds at the same time as your summer bedding. When sowing any seeds, it is important to spread them thinly across the compost; use the Super Seeder for an even spread – one click of the handy gadget releases one seed at a time, allowing for greater accuracy. Remember to use moist compost mixed with some perlite or vermiculite. The compost should not need to be watered during the germination process; use the vents to control the amount of condensation under the lids as a too-moist growing environment promotes fungal growth and the loss of the young seedlings.
Elsewhere in the garden, do continue to protect new growth and tender plants from frost. Use a roll of frost protection fleece cut to size or alternatively, the Gard ‘n’ Fleece jackets are easy to use and come in two sizes.
And remember, if you haven’t had a chance to tackle the weeds in the garden this spring, you should get started as soon as possible. If the ground is too wet to dig, you can smother the weeds by applying a thick layer of well-rotted garden compost or cover them with black plastic or a thick layer of newspaper weighted down. If the area is small you could weed by hand ensuring the least amount of disturbance as possible to the soil.