Here in the south the snow and ice is beginning to thaw after Storm Emma and The Beast from the East. The sun is coming out warming our bones and souls. Hopefully spring is at last on its way and we can all look forward to longer, warmer sunny days in the garden.
Hopefully you will already have a plan formulated during those long winter months as to what you would like in your garden this season. Providing the soil is workable and frost free there are a number of things you can do on these sunny spring days.
First of all feed and condition your borders by digging in a layer of compost or well rotted manure, this will certainly help with good growth from your plants this summer. Take a look at your perennial borders and decide which of your summer flowering herbaceous perennials can be lifted and split. Take your most overgrown clump forming herbaceous plants and gently lift and divide them to promote vigorous growth. Ornamental grasses will also do well from division if they have become too large. You can also put in place your plant supports for your plants to grow through, this is much easier than trying to do it when they have already grown!
Your roses should be pruned now to encourage them with strong new growth and its not a bad idea to feed them with a good rose fertilizer! Plants grown for their winter colour such as Cornus (Dogwood) and Salix varieties such as ‘alba’ & ‘purpurea’ can be pruned back quite vigorously to promote fresh new growth.
For those gardeners who are lucky enough to have an area to grow some vegetables, it will soon be time to plant your early potato crop. Onions and shallots can be directly planted out from sets. If you have grown them from seed in the greenhouse ensure the plants are fully hardened off before you plant them out. Just wait a little longer for the soil to dry a little and warm up.
And don’t forget to keep an eye open for the gardeners number one enemy the common garden slug as the weather warms. They love to munch on those fresh spring shoots from your Hostas, Delphiniums and Dahlias as well as your young vegetable seedlings. Slugs can be controlled but it is very unlikely you will totally eradicate them unless you have a brood of hungry chickens wandering around your garden (they love slugs but will probably eat your seedlings too).
For most slug pellets are the answer, however if you don’t want to use chemical warfare there are other ways including: Biological warfare – the introduction of nematodes a kind of microscopic eelworm that enter the slugs body and kills it with a bacteria that produces a disease, and the ever popular beer trap sunk into the soil. You could always spend your evenings patrolling your potential slug restaurant with a torch and remove those little pests by hand!
Keep your eye open for the next blog for more information and news from Running Bear Garden Care.