Grow Your Own:
*Apply a general balanced fertiliser to all your tree and bush fruit at the recommended rate – water it in if dry and don’t get it on the plant.
*Early flowering fruit such as Peaches and Nectarines can be protected from frost damage with fleece if needed – hand pollinate with a small soft brush if insects are scarce.
*If you haven’t already pruned your apple and pear trees, now is the last month to do it, remove all dead and diseased wood, including any old fruit from last year.
*Garlic and Shallots can start to be planted on light soils (don’t plant them where they have been before) and Broad Beans and Summer Cabbage can be sown outdoors – if your soil is heavy or the weather remains cold leave it a month.
*Parsley can start to be sown in succession to ensure fresh crops over a long period.
* A cloche can be a valuable addition at this time of year ensuring an earlier start to the season and flexible protection when needed.
*Deadhead Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) leaving the flower stalk to die down naturally. Keep feeding and watering and you may get the bonus of an extra flower in August.
*Houseplants will benefit from the first feed of the season now.
*Now is a good time to sow Tomatoes and Cucumbers if you have a heated greenhouse so you get a head start. Alternatively try a propagator or a warm windowsill in the house.
*Conservatory climbers can be pruned now.
*Continue feeding the birds as they get ready for the spring.
*Start providing nest boxes in anticipation of the new season.
*Check your frost prevention is still working.
*Rake off any moss or debris that has accumulated over the winter.
*If poor drainage is an issue try spiking the lawn with a fork and brushing a gritty soil mix into the holes.
*Turf can start to be laid as long as the weather is not too wet or cold. Do not walk on the newly laid turf and leave undisturbed for several weeks to allow to establish.
*Now is the time to plan your summer bedding and the first sowings can be made now in a heated greenhouse or windowsill.
*Start protecting Delphiniums and Hostas as they emerge from dormancy as they are very prone to damage from slugs and snails.
*Cut back ornamental grasses and perennials that you have left for winter effect and may now be looking tatty.
*Check frost protection is still in place (if needed) and that plants have not dried out (especially evergreens) and that slugs and snails have not moved in to mulches and straw that you have used.
*This is an ideal time to purchase and plant bulbs in flower – some like snowdrops establish better now than when dried off and it is easier to see where you have gaps to fill than in the autumn.
TREES SHRUBS AND HEDGES:
*Rejuvenate overgrown deciduous hedges by pruning back harder than normal and feeding and watering.
*Prune late summer and autumn flowering clematis hard back to the lowest pair of strong buds.
*Shrubs and trees can be fed at this time of year – use a good balanced feed- and for most varieties this will last the entire season. Remember that ericaceous plants such as Rhododendrons will need a dedicated ericaceous feed and be sure to water it in.
*This is the best month to prune your bush roses – cut them back hard by a half or two thirds to a strong bud.
*After you have pruned your roses give them a feed with a specific rose feed – don’t get it on the plant and water well in.
*Summer flowering shrubs such as Buddleja can be pruned hard back to encourage better flowers and to keep the plant under control.
*Sterilise pots and seed trays before using this year to stop the spread of fungal disease.
*Try something new and plant a summer bulb border – let your creative side out and think about colours and heights for a stunning display