Spring is not quite yet in the air but we can just about see some daffodils peeking through the grass, so we know it’s not far away! The garden may not be a very inviting place right now given the weather conditions, but there’s still plenty of preparation that can be done in the warmth of your greenhouse or conservatory like sowing seeds and caring for kinder plants.
- For lawns, remove debris and leaves deposited by recent strong winds deeply spike with a fork, or hollow tine implement patches with standing water, brushing course grit into the holes.
- Early in the month, finish winter pruning of apples and pears. Remember plums and cherries (ornamental and fruiting) need to be pruned in summer to limit the introduction of disease.
- Dormant fruit trees should have been sprayed several times with winter wash before bud burst to deal with over wintering pests. Note this is a less effective formulation than the old tar oil product removed from sale a few years ago.
- Peaches, apricots and almonds growing in the open need to be sprayed twice with Bayer fruit and vegetable protective fungicide, or a copper sulphate fungicide before colour is present, in the emerging flower buds to prevent peach leaf curl.
- Complete digging and prepare seed beds for next month and finish the planting of deciduous shrubs, trees and hedging.
- Tidy up flower beds cutting down seed heads and other foliage retained for the birds and winter interest. Retain mulch over the roots in case of a severe frost. Divide overgrown perennials and congested spring bulbs replanting them after flowering in new positions.
- Clematis advice: leave winter and spring flowering clematis alone at this time. Lightly tidy up the early summer large flower hybrid types but those flowering later in July and August on new growth, like Jackmanii, vertically stagger prune from 12 inches to 20 inches above ground. Herbaceous types, and those smaller flowering species belonging to the texensis and viticella group, hard prune 6 inches to 9 inches above ground, new growth will emerge from the base and flower from late summer to the autumn.
- Shallots and onion sets can be planted out on firm, rich well-drained soils, otherwise delay for a few weeks.
- If cloches have been warming the soil as suggested last month, an early crop of peas, broad beans, radishes or parsnips could be sown this month. Otherwise, continue to cover seed beds with clear polythene for sowing a greater range next month.
- Set up your seed potatoes in trays or egg boxes in a cool light frost free place (to chit). This will encourage sturdy sprouts to slowly form on the rounded end of the potato, worth doing for first and second earlies.
- Pinch out tops and pot on autumn sown sweet peas which have been kept in cold frames or cool greenhouses. There is still time to sow sweet peas in deep pots in cold frames.
- Look out for plug plants and individual cuttings in small mesh pots ready for potting on. An economical and enjoyable way to produce a wide range of your own plants.
- Lightly prune winter flowering heathers after flowering. Tie in growth of winter jasmine prune as required and carry out the final pruning back of two to three buds on wisteria.
Soil temperature needs to rise a little, so seed sowing can be delayed while you make those last minute adjustments to gardening plans, or pop in and see us for some friendly advice!