What's happening in the garden now...
The page below lists the various tasks that Ben and the team will be completing in the garden this month. Split into four main sections the lists will hopefully help you structure and plan your own gardening work schedule... so lets get busy
Winter’s grasp seems reluctant to let go, despite slowly creeping into spring. Although the weather is changeable and unpredictable, the days are getting longer and temperatures are starting to rise. Plants both in and outside the green house are bursting into life, changing the appearance of the garden with every passing day.
This is a month full of change, with propagation, planting, mulching, mowing and weeding all high on the list of jobs to complete. The grass is growing, the birds are singing and it’s an absolute delight to be in the garden!
Hoe off or spray the first flush of annual weed seedlings to prevent them setting seed and creating more work later in the year.
Top dress permanent planted pots and containers, using fresh compost or feed.
Keep a very watchful eye out for Box Blight and treat accordingly, it is most prevalent now and in autumn when the weather is mild and damp. Also now is a good time to put out pheromone traps for Box Moth, which should give you an indication as to when to look out for the caterpillars.
Grub out any brambles or perennial weeds to prevent them from becoming a bigger problem as the year goes on.
Clear, tidy and organise sheds and storage buildings, checking plant supports, nets and cloches are in working order and ready to use.
Order and pot up or plant any summer flowering bulbs and tubers that you may wish to grow this year, including Dahlias, Gladioli and Lilies.
Prune shrubs that require late winter or spring pruning (generally shrubs that flower late summer or winter on current season’s growth or plants grown for winter stem affect). This should promote healthy growth, flower and a good shape for the season ahead.
Plant any new additions to the garden to take advantage of the optimum growing conditions, being sure to firm the surrounding soil and water in well.
Watch out for excessive slug and snail damage on the first growth of Clematis and perennials like Delphinium, Echinacea and Hosta.
Check any taps, hoses and irrigation systems to make sure they are in good working order before the threat of any significant dry periods become a reality.
Complete any spring maintenance to lawns, including light scarifying, feeding and weeding, along with seeding, over-sowing and laying turf.
Prepare for the coming growing season, check you have your seeds, sundries, tools and other supplies in place to make sure this year will be a growing success.
Look over your garden machines (e.g. strimmers, hedge trimmers, mowers etc), clean and service as required, ensuring they are in good working order for the season ahead.
Begin mowing turf areas to improve appearance and encourage a thick sward.
Be mindful of late frosts and have a plan to protect anything tender if temperatures drop, this may include cloches and sheets of horticultural fleece.
During hot days be sure to ventilate to reduce internal temperatures, condensation and fungal problems.
Grow on early spring salad crops and herbs under glass in either pots or soil beds, ensuring a fresh supply.
On hot days check watering of young seedlings to ensure they do not dry out.
If warm sunny weather persists towards the end of this month, apply shading to greenhouses to prevent plants from overheating.
Re-pot or feed tender plants that have been kept over winter, such as Pelargonium and Plectranthus. This will encourage the development of strong fresh growth and flowers.
Lightly trim excessive growth on newly propagated and potted plants to encourage a bushy habit whilst improving light and air circulation.
Start off peas and beans in modules to get ahead of cold growing conditions outside, ensuring a longer harvest season.
Sow seeds of various salad crops, brassicas, cucurbits, tender annuals and perennials, to plant out later in the season.
Prick out seedlings into modules allowing for future growth. This is best completed first thing in the morning when plants are fully turgid and temperatures are cooler.
If environmental conditions allow, order and apply any biological control or cultural equipment for the control of glass house pests.
Earth up pot-grown potatoes grown under glass and place outside on hot days to ensure that plant growth is not too soft.
Grow on sowings of seed Onions and Leeks, as well as Aubergines, Chillies, Peppers and Tomatoes.
Finish taking soft tip cuttings from stock plants such as Dahlia, Delphinium, Helichrysum, Pelargonium and Salvia.
Grow on pot grown Strawberries under glass, in order to obtain an extra early harvest.
Sow pots of peas under glass to produce ‘pea shoots’ for salads.
Pot up Dahlia tubers and grow on under glass, planting outside after the risk of frost has passed.
Complete weeding and digging over vegetable beds, incorporating any green manure that may exist.
Build support structures for growing Beans, Gourds, Peas and Pumpkins, as well as protection structures for Carrots and Brassicas.
Grow on and harvest any salad crops under protection tunnels or in the green house.
Enrich soil beds, by lightly digging in or mulching with rotten manure, compost or soil improver. This will be most effective for crops that appreciate a rich nutritious soil.
Construct tunnels and cloches to warm the soil on sunny days, encouraging early salad crops outside.
Direct sow hardy annuals such as Centaurea, Cerinthe Consolida, Nigella and Orlaya, for cutting late in the season. Be sure to thin out seedlings as they germinate to promote healthy growth and a good size plant.
If not already completed, cut back old autumn Raspberries hard to the ground, allowing more space for this year’s crop.
Plant any additional Gladioli and Lily bulbs into cutting beds, for harvesting later in the year.
Stake cutting beds to provide support for flowers such as Asters, Delphiniums and Peonies, which are prone to snapping and other damage unsettled weather.
Continue to crop Rhubarb, although allow plants to grow naturally without forcing them.
Feed and mulch fruit trees and bushes to ensure good soil conditions and crops for future years.
Protect young growth of Peach and Nectarine from rain to avoid Leaf Curl.
Plant out chitted seed potatoes once both soil and weather conditions have warmed and improved.
Continue to harvest the last of the Leeks and Winter Kale, along with this year’s Spring Greens and Purple Sprouting Broccoli.
Direct sow Beetroot, Broad Beans, Carrots, Parsnips, Peas and Radish, along with Lettuce and Spring Onion if growing conditions outside are warm enough.
Check cutting tulips for blight, removing and burning any infected bulbs and foliage.
Cut Narcissus, Anemone and Euphorbia, along with tulips, Camassia and Leucojum, giving the inside the house a spring feel!
Harden off and plant out sweet peas for cutting later in the year, though be aware the danger of late frosts.
Begin applying spring mulch to borders, reducing the need for weeding and watering whilst improving soil conditions for future years.
Complete lifting and dividing of any hardy perennials that require it and only when weather permits. Consult notes from last summer so that you have a clear idea about what changes need to be made.
Plant any new hardy additions to the borders, filling in gaps whilst increasing variety and interest. Be sure to water in well, especially during periods of dry weather.
Sow and grow on any annual plants that you may want to add to the borders later in the year.
Check existing supports and construct new ones for perennial and annual climbers, which will add instant height to borders.
As the risk of hard frosts diminish, dead head Hydrangea macrophylla cultivars, cutting back old flower heads to new growth buds whilst removing up to a quarter of the oldest growth at ground level.
Weed over and tidy the surface of any un-mulched borders to prevent early establishment of weed seedlings, whilst creating a smart setting for spring flower displays.
Look to complete planting of any additional trees and shrubs to mixed borders, avoiding unnecessary disturbance to surrounding plants as they come into growth.
Assess the borders and list any additional early spring bulbs, such as Crocus, Narcissus and Scilla, which you may wish to add this autumn.
After heavy frosts, check that newly planted specimens have not been lifted from the soil, firm and water in as necessary.
Construct staking of any perennials that may need support later in the year, this can include woven hazel or birch, canes, beanpoles, netting and metal hoops.
Prune early spring flowering shrubs after flowering, to promote a good shape and encourage flowering for next spring.