03 March 2014 By Billy Hawkins
With the glimmer of sunshine at the weekend I seem to have started about five garden projects all at the same time (none quite finished yet, but this is the beginning of spring...) British summertime begins in 27 days apparently.
There are plenty of tasks to be getting on with around the garden through March and inevitably one thing will lead to another, but it is good practise at this time of year to “be prepared”, in order to better enjoy your garden in the summertime.
Start the mulching of your plants with compost – ensuring you are defending against slugs as you go – fragile lupin leaves just look so juicy at this time of year. Once your compost area has emptied, rotate your other compost areas. I work with three different ones depending on how much rotting down is required and the age of the compost. I’m always careful to put in long grasses and twigs which won’t rot as quickly as grass but ensure that it doesn’t all end up as sludge. Beech leaves seem to take at least two years to rot properly.
Make sure your greenhouse is spring ready, with a good clean. Tidy and wash old pots and either store out of the way, or in a potting shed. You need to create maximum growing space for all the seedlings and cuttings that will benefit from growing under glass. At Alitex we also recommend testing your blinds – after eight years or so, you may find they need updating to work to their best. Clean out the greenhouse gutters to ensure clean gulleys and give the interior and exterior a good hot soapy wash down, getting rid of any algae and pests in the process. Periodically you may need help with this “spring clean”, (or broken panes of glass) in which case our Aftercare Sales Team are on hand to advise how your greenhouse can be updated/restored to its original look.
I’ve pinched an idea from RHS Wisley (the site of one of our Spring events) by using the bright red cuttings from Cornus alba sibirica to prop in amongst and around the daffodils which are coming into their own. It has certainly helped them brave the weather. I have also realised why my hellebore didn’t look quite as glamorous as anybody else’s – they had compacted because I hadn’t been splitting them... Another job.
A great tip from the RHS “If you do have any seedlings and/or cuttings in the greenhouse, make sure they are getting the maximum light available, or else they will become weak and leggy. If necessary, turn them once a day so that they get light on both sides. This will stop them leaning over towards the light, and keep them upright and compact.”
There is no time to waste – be it in the greenhouse with the radio on and a cup of tea or out in the garden digging and weeding, the planning and plant browsing/purchasing must wait until there really is no light to garden by!