Tips for spring gardening! In case you hadn’t noticed, the astronomical vernal equinox is nearly here. For all of those that didn’t pay attention in school (that includes me!), that means spring is coming! The twenty-first of March is generally taken to mark the first day of springtime.
The increasingly sunny days should allow the opportunity for an increasing range of gardening tasks. It’s time to get busy preparing seed beds, sowing seed, cutting back winter shrubs and generally tidying up around the garden.
Please read on for some tips from Bellis Brothers Garden Centre about how to prepare your garden in the next few weeks.
Help birds prepare for their nesting and breeding season by feeding high-protein feeds like mealworms and peanuts. Providing nest boxes may help speed up their house hunting.
Shrubs, Trees and Flowers
Spring pruning (before flowering) – if your plants flower from July to October and are deciduous, you can prune these plants in spring. Food reserves from the roots will soon send out new shoots that tend to flower at the ends of the new growth.
Prune last year’s plants to just two or three buds above healthy thick stems to provide an excellent future-growth framework. Plants suitable for this pruning are Buddleja, Fuschia, Hibiscus, Hydrangea Paniculata and Spirea Japonica.
Hold off from pruning evergreens until April as they need their foliage to kickstart growth in warmer weather. Remove up to a third of spent flowering stems back to old wood on winter-flowering shrubs, such as forsythia and jasmine, as soon as the flowers fade. Doing this will promote fresh new wood for next year.
Prune shrub and climbing roses. Apply a rose feed around the base of roses and other flowering shrubs to promote good flower growth and quality.
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Split perennial plants that have become overcrowded and cut down Cornus stems to encourage colourful new growth.
It is the ideal time to plant herbaceous perennials for borders full of colour this year. Plant your lily bulbs in deep containers with soil-based compost for wonderful flower and scent later in the year. These are ideal for doorways and patios.
Plant Dahlias in pots in multipurpose compost for beautiful summer colour. Sow seeds of hardy perennials directly into the ground if conditions are suitable or start them off in later planting modules.
Sow half-hardy annuals indoors or in a heated greenhouse and deadhead daffodils, but leave the foliage to die down naturally.
Get your supports ready for tall herbaceous perennials. Divide Hostas before they come into leaf and divide Hellebores after flowering – remove old leaves.
Don’t forget to sow your wildflower meadows.
Prepare the ground for sowing new lawns at the end of the month or in April, but you can lay new turf sooner. You should do your early mowing at the highest lawn mower setting and only on dry days. In late March, you can apply spring/summer lawn fertiliser.
Fruit and Vegetables
Prepare soil for sowing in vegetable patches by raking in general-purpose fertiliser such as Growmore or blood, fish and bone. Covering the earth with cloches or fleece will help warm it up for early planting. Additionally, having fleece and cloches on hand will help to cover up crops in colder conditions.
Cover strawberry plants with cloches to get an earlier crop.
Plant early potatoes, weather permitting. If you cannot decide on the variety, why not plant two or three different ones? This method will give you crops at various times throughout the season.
Plant onion sets, shallots and garlic if soil conditions are suitable. If not, you can start them in pots for planting out later.
Remember to sow tomatoes, aubergines, sweet peppers and chillies in trays or modules with gentle bottom heat. Once the soil is sufficiently warm and dry, you can sow carrots, beetroot, peas, salad leaves, spinach, cabbage, parsnip and turnips outdoors or start them off undercover.
Plant winter brassicas in seed trays or modules in a cold greenhouse, polytunnel or growhouse. You can install automatic irrigation in vegetable plots while plants are small. These irrigators make light work of watering and prevent problems like bolting if they get too dry.
If you have no space to grow fruit and vegetables in the garden, consider growing in containers.
Clean your paths and patios. There are plenty of products available these days that make light work of algae and dirt. Ventilate greenhouse or grow houses on sunny days.
Keep on top of annual weeds by pulling out or hoeing. Watch out for slugs and snails and protect vulnerable crops and plants with slug pellets or natural slug control products.
Now is the ideal time to clean or install a water butt or even add new ones.
Finally, grasp the nettle and treat those fences, chairs and tables with a wood stain and preservative!
About Bellis Brothers
Bellis Brothers Farm Shop and Garden Centre is an independently run family business near Holt in the beautiful Dee Valley less than nine miles from Wrexham and Chester.
They started business in 1860 growing fresh fruit and vegetables for markets in the Midlands and North West. Since then, they have diversified into an extensive farm shop, garden centre, gift department, restaurant and seasonal pick-your-own.
The farm shop and butchers are open daily, but the garden centre and restaurant are currently closed. Go to bellisbrothers.co.uk for opening times and further information.
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