Spring back into action in the garden

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With Sally Cunis Garden Designer

The March winds will blow, we may have snow and there will be showers in April – but the days are getting longer and sunnier and spring is definitely here.

Bright green buds are breaking out on shrubs and trees and the bird are increasingly active. But beware of short, sharp frosts which can still catch us out nipping at the fruit blossom as we move into April.

After the dormancy of winter, it is an exciting and busy time for gardeners with the pace of growth increasing dramatically. With it, so too do the jobs to do in the garden. Below are a few basics to prepare for the new season ahead.

 

Ornamental Garden

Fork over the borders, digging out perennials and pernicious weeds such as dock and bramble.

Hoe light sprinklings of weeds to keep them under control.

Dig up and divide overgrown clumps of perennials.

Top dress beds, protecting new shoots from slugs.

 

Plants and Flowers

As snow drops finish flowering, lift, divide and move while still in the green.

Plant out any trees, shrubs or climbers whether potted or bare rooted that weren’t planted in the autumn.

Prune roses and Buddleia together with Salix (willow) and Cornus (dogwood) which are grown for the coloured stems.

 

Outdoor Surfaces

After the winter, paved surfaces can be treacherous. Give them a through clean with a pressure washer.

If frost is forecasted, liberally sprinkle with rock salt.

To brighten the patio, rearrange pots. Mass them together and refresh with new bulbs plus a top dressing of compost.

 

Fruit and Vegetable Garden

Garden tasks here and numerous and not all can be tackled at once, dependent on weather.

March is the last chance to plant out bare-rooted fruit trees and any strawberry runner saved from last year.

Be prepared for the possibility of a late frost by protecting fruit blossom whilst still allowing insects access to flowers for pollination.

Boost fruit production by mulching raspberries and blueberries with well-rotted farmyard manure.

Blackcurrants, apples and pears need a nitrogen feed.

Top dress fruit trees, bushes and container grown fruit.

Prepare the ground in your vegetable garden but try to avoid if the soil is very wet as it may become compacted.

Raised beds are often easier to prepare than a traditional vegetable garden as they warm up more quickly and can be worked on from all sides without the need to tread on the beds.

Once seed beds are prepared, onions, shallots and garlic sets can be sown as well as Jerusalem artichokes.

Indoors, chit both early and main crop potatoes.

Sow seeds such as sweet pepper, tomato, cucumber, aubergine and salad crops.

Remember:

Don’t be tempted to sow too much of any one crop unless you are going to swap with a neighbour. One year we could hardly move in our greenhouse – it was like stepping into a tropical jungle. The floor to ceiling was covered in about fifty tomato plants which we hadn’t been able to give away.

 

 

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