March in your Garden
2 CommentsThursday, 2 March 2017 | Alison
Thank goodness February is over; Storm Doris left her mark over most of the UK leaving a trail of debris with trees felled, branches straddling roads and numerous twigs appearing along the verges. Judging by many of the photographs I have seen on Twitter and Facebook many of you in gardening land, especially those on allotments where the space is often in an exposed area, have suffered losses to poly tunnels, sheds and greenhouses as they have lifted and relocated themselves into next doors allotment. Countless greenhouses seem unsalvageable as their structures have been torn apart and left lots of seeds and plantlets ruined. Plants are generally toughies though, even when they are small, so it is always worth trying to rescue them.
I was lucky and lost only my weather vane which broke free from its wooden stake and ended up in the fish pond – again luckily it didn’t pierce the pond lining (or damage any fish). However, here at the nursery we suffered many broken panes of glass so it was deemed too unsafe to work in one of the older glasshouse tunnels that day, as unpredictable flying shards of glass are not to be messed with. The replacement sheets of Perspex will be a lot safer in future.
The long range weather forecast from the Met Office for March is rather more predictable with unsettled weather coming in from the Atlantic, with slightly higher than average temperatures at times, spells of rain, wind, sunshine and snow - something for everyone. In essence, as the old nursery rhyme tells us:-
The North Wind Doth Blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the robin do then,
He’ll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
Drawing taken from Book of Nursery rhymes by Nick Butterworth
But intrepid and hopeful as we gardeners are, there will still be plenty of jobs to do in the garden so here are my Top Ten Tips for March:-
- Order vegetable seeds and vegetable plug plants from us online and choose your delivery week, so that you can easily plan your sowing and planting times. www.brooksidenursery.co.uk. Remember – if you are short of space, many vegetables like carrots and runner beans will grow quite happily in containers and herbs like chives and parsley will thrive in hanging baskets.
- Check shrubs and trees in your garden after Storm Doris and secure any that have been loosened in the winds.
- Make new plants for free by digging up older clumps of perennials like sedums and leucanthemums daisies and splitting them in half or quartering and replanting around the garden. March is an ideal time to do this as you can see new shoots appearing and can avoid damaging the plants.
- Delphiniums and Lupins are very receptive to basal cuttings being taken in March/April as the new growth appears. Once you can see 10cms growth of a new shoot, clear away some of the soil and take a sharp knife to cut off the shoot growing from the base. Pot on the cutting in a 10cm pot with free draining compost and keep it warm, watered but not waterlogged. Once the roots show through the bottom of the pot it is time for the plantlets to be ‘hardened off’ and planted into their new home in the garden. It’s such a fun thing to do; you are propagating like the professionals.
- Plan the colours and types of plants that you would like to grow in your hanging baskets, tubs and window boxes for this season and order plug plants sooner rather than later so that you can get exactly what you want and when you want them. Start them off growing somewhere that is frost-free so that by the end of May they will be ready to be planted outside for a lovely summer display.
6. Slugs will be on the rampage as temperatures warm up and new tasty shoots appear, so be vigilant. There are many ways to try and control slugs with one of the best ways being to use nematodes, tiny parasitic worms, watered into the ground regularly during the growing season. But you could try slug pellets, copper rings around pots and beer traps. Good luck!
7.If you have a pond, thin out any plants that are overcrowding the pond. Split them and replant in pond pots using specialist pond compost. As I write this article, 26th Feb, I have spotted the first frogspawn of the spring in my small wildlife pond, so I am hoping for more over the next few weeks.
8. Tidy over borders and beds removing small weeds and clumps of grass before they take over and whilst the ground is damp, mulch plants with compost, leaf mould, well-rotted manure or bark chippings. This will help to suppress weeds and retain moisture in the soil.
9.You may well be mowing the lawn for the first time this year so keep the cutting blade a bit higher for the first few cuts, especially if you are giving the lawn a spring feed. Use one of the proprietary brands and follow the instructions on the packets.
10.Edge your borders with a sharp edging tool as this will give shape and definition and gives the garden a ‘finished’ look.
Have fun and enjoy your garden!