Life in the Parish

Gardening – Spring 2017

Spring has arrived. She left it late this year, but a very welcome arrival nevertheless. Now is the time to think of our lawns and the ways to get them back on track after a long winter. Treat your lawn with either a propriety ‘weed and feed’ fertilizer, or a fertilizer that promises to encourage ‘green growth’. This will green it up encouraging the grass to grow and provide the perfect back drop for your wonderful borders.

At this point in the year, your garden should have an abundance of spring colour. If your daffodil clumps are congested they will require digging up and replanting so that the bulbs have more room. Don’t forget to feed your spring bulbs so that next year the flowers are even better. Growmore, Osmocote or similar slow release fertilizers are good to use, or you can water your bulbs with Miracle grow or similar. Ensure that the fertilizer contains N, P and K; using up old rose/tomato food will also work (in my experience, plants are not able to read).

If you have huge clumps of primroses, they can be split up now so that you can spread them around your garden. Remember to water if the weather is dry so that plants can establish good root systems. If spring bulbs have failed to flower, either feed them now to give them a good chance to flower next year, or dig them up and bin them. Planting new spring bulbs during August will ensure a good show next year.

It is time to sow broad beans, peas, sugarsnaps, mange touts and lettuces. Watch out for mice, because they adore large seeds and newly germinated seedlings. You can get a head start on hardy annuals by starting them off in the greenhouse now.

There is still time to grow tomatoes from seed, but if you want peppers, it is best to buy young plants from a garden centre/nursery to ensure good crops. Peppers need to be started off in January because they take a little while to get going.

Do not put any tender plants outside just yet; waiting until the middle of May before planting these out is the best course to follow, because one cold night will damage or kill your tender plants.

Many people have been complaining about slugs and snails. This is the time when they do maximum damage to herbaceous plants. Protect your plants using barriers (copper tape or slug wool, or rings of plastic cut from large plastic bottles, or egg shells), or you can carefully use slug pellets that are recommended for organic gardening. Do not use anything containing metaldehyde.

When the weather warms up a little, you will be able to apply a drench of nematodes (Nemaslug), which work very well at killing all those little slugs that live in the soil.

Happy gardening
Caroline Aldridge

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