- Weeding should start in earnest! If you remove the weeds before they get a chance to produce seed you will be ahead of the game – remember one years seed =seven years weed. Weeding now will save you so much time later on in the year.
- Now is the ideal time to mulch – this is basically putting a layer of material (usually organic) on the surface of the soil around the plants. It looks good, helps retain moisture and prevents weed seeds germinating. It will also breakdown over time, improving the soil structure and increasing fertility.
- Watering can be increased now as the days lengthen and growth resumes and they can be fed now too.
- The new growth that has been produced by the end of the month can be pinched back to encourage a bushy compact plant with more flowers – these pieces can be used as cuttings rather than being thrown away.
- Lawns should be swept and raked before having its first cut and then given a spring feed towards the end of the month.
- If the weather is mild enough for its first cut and the turf is showing signs of growth raise the blades 0.5cm (1/4in) higher than its usual cut. Similarly on newly seeded or turfed areas the blades should be set high for its first cut when the grass reaches about 5cm (2in).
Grow Your Own
- This is the best month to plant strawberries to get them established in their first season.
- Early this month is a good time to prune Blueberries – take out dead and weak stems but don’t prune too hard or you will remove fruiting wood. Remember that blueberries fruit on the previous year’s wood. The fruiting buds are easy to distinguish at this time of year being fat and round whereas the growth buds are thin and pointed.
- If conditions are right (not too wet and cold) you can start sowing vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kale, parsnips, peas, radish and spinach. It is better to cover them with cloches to control their growing environment.
- Sweet peppers, tomatoes, Cucumber and Aubergine can all be planted in a frost free greenhouse.
- Conservatory shrubs can be pruned now –shorten the stems by up to half on plants such as Cestrum, Brugmansia, Argyranthemum and Abutilon, pruning to a bud. This will keep the plant compact and free flowering.
- Consider planting shrubs with berries e.g. Pyracantha for the birds to feed on in the autumn and flowers that attract the bees e.g. Digitalis.
- Continue providing nest boxes for the birds – site them out of direct sunshine and away from predators.
Tree, Shrubs & Hedges
- Summer flowering shrubs can still be pruned – delaying pruning will delay flowering.
- Now is an ideal time to move evergreen shrubs and trees – lift them with as much of the root ball intact as possible, move them quickly to a prepared site and plant them at exactly the same depth as they were originally. Keep the plant watered until it is established – usually after the first season.
- Feed shrubs and perennials that you have in pots with a slow release fertiliser – it is in a pellet form and is simply pressed in to the soil in the recommended number, it will feed for the entire season and is much simpler than using a liquid feed.
- Early spring is an ideal time to plant herbaceous perennials e.g. Geranium, Astrantia and Oriental Poppies – plant in well prepared soil and you will get flowers the first summer.
- Tender bulbs such as Gladioli, Lilies and Dahlias can be planted now – if you plant at fortnightly intervals over the next few weeks you will get a better succession of blooms.
- If tender bulbs produce new shoots quickly, protect them with fleece or mulch until the weather has improved.
- Dahlias can be propagated from the new shoots that will have appeared recently on forced tubers. When the shoots have reached to about 10cm remove them with a knife and treat like any other cutting.
- Start feeding the fish in the pond – usually during the winter they have not been fed and will want to resume feeding.
- Marginal and Bog Garden plants can be divided now if overcrowded. More vigorous varieties can be contained by planting in aquatic plant baskets – top with a layer of gravel to prevent fish stirring up the compost.