In these troubling and difficult times I hope you are all keeping well, and if nothing else we are afforded some time to spend in the garden now. We have had some glorious weather and the ground has warmed up, you should see the welcome sight of a few early perennials peeking their faces towards the sun, in my garden the Aquilegias and Phlox are just about to burst into flower and really signal that summer is just round the corner. The clocks have sprung forward and so has the gardening tasks whether it be the dreaded weeds or the grass actually seeming to grow before you’re very eyes, to the birds busy building their nest to bring up this year’s new brood. All that good work you put in over the winter months will start to reap you benefits now which could give you some precious time to spend on some of the pressing matters in the garden and more importantly to step back and enjoy your garden. It’s not too late to give the lawn a little bit of tlc, a little spring/summer fertiliser will go a long way as the months tick by. If you have taller herbaceous plants it’s a good time to get the supports out and in the ground so you can train the stems through rather than bending them to fit and running the chance of damaging them. On that old foe of the gardener weeds remember don’t let them get away from you to early in the season there main objective in life is to get their flowers out and thus reproduce themselves by spreading there seed on the wind so if you get a minute on a sunny day hoe them down and let the sun finish the job for you.
Jobs to Do
- The lawn will need more regular mowing and a bit lower to if you like.
- Regular Hoeing and weeding will pay dividends later.
- Harden of any tender plants or veg over the next few weeks.
- You can sow almost all veg and flowers direct in the ground now. ground
- Get the bean supports up and firm in the ground
- Rhubarb is at its tasty best now so harvest away for tasty crumble.
- Get supports in place for taller perennials and border plants
- Plant the summer bedding out in pots, baskets and the borders
- Most flowering shrubs can be cut back once they have finished flowering
- Top dress any pots with new soil and a feed as well
- Give any evergreen hedges a trim & shape.
- Feed the lawn with a good spring/ summer fertiliser
Down the Plot
Now is a very busy time down the plot, and a vast amount of veg can go outside now at last and get growing in the ground.Weather it be Sweetcorn out in there blocks or the first of the Cabbages in there rows, the Brussels firmed in for their long growing season and not to forget the salad crops which if you use successional planting will romp away and give you unlimited salads till late into the autumn months. Carrots can be sown in the same way as salad, as in a little every couple of weeks stops you getting great gluts and thus saves wastage. As in the garden as so on the plot keep a hand on the weeds this time of year as they can’t wait to cover your plot with their seeds or spread their roots just make your life just that bit harder. When it does come to watering there are a couple very simple practises that are so often not followed. Firstly water early in the morning or later in the evening so the water gets the max amount of time to get to the roots without evaporation. Next, it is far better to water with a good soaking once or twice a week and really soak the ground/compost. Often if you doing a little bit every day you are actually doing your plants no favours, buy watering a bit less you are encouraging the roots to grow deeper and actively search out water deep in the ground whereas the little and often makes plants live the easy life and never go looking for it, and become shallow rooted and thus dry out far quicker.
Now in these troubled times I know it can be hard too get hold of seeds, often delivery dates are weeks ahead! But do not worry too much, nature has an amazing way of catching up. So, although you may be late getting them in as such you can still have a great harvest come the summer.
When looking for seeds, if you have ever seen F1 after the name this means it is the result of cross pollinating two plants. Which creates a better improved version of the plant. The downside is they are genetically unstable and cannot be saved for the as they will not produce a true plant or in the following years and in some cases are infertile. And some may have even seen F2 varieties these are merely the crossing of two F1 varieties. But the same principal affects these as well.
If you’re wondering what the F1 means, Its Filial 1 or literally “first children” and they are developed to create a more uniform size or colour and, in many cases, definite harvest date or durability and shelf life for the likes of supermarkets. If you are a fan of saving your seeds (Runner Beans are a classic example) you will need an open pollinated (a normal packet of seeds) or heritage varieties to achieve this. You can join the Heritage Seed Library (HSL) www.gardenorganic.org.uk and become a seed guardian thus saving the veg of yesteryear which still has much to offer.
If you would like to know a bit more about some well know faces in the growing world, we have some exclusive interviews with
Radio 2s Terry Walton www.thevillagegrapevine.co.uk/terry-walton
Grow your Owns. Rob Smith www.thevillagegrapevine.co.uk/rob-smith
And Tom Tat creator Michael Perry www.thevillagegrapevine.co.uk/michael-perry