Spring Tasks in the Garden
Following such an unusually warm February, and then such a massive set of downpours in March, time in April and May may be much in demand for gardeners, so here are some suggestions:
Lawns & Moss
During the Winter, moss may have proliferated and lawns may now be in poor condition. I recommend feeding the lawn with lawn feed, and if you have an enormous amount of moss, using a feed which contains iron to kill the moss too. You can also get products which deal with weeds at the same time or separately - though bear in mind as I mentioned last month, daisies in lawns can look lovely and keep children and adults occupied by making daisy chains. After the moss has gone brown/black, give the lawn a scarify to allow the remaining grasses room to grow, and reseed if necessary.
Apply nematodes as soon as the weather is warm enough (nematodes are the natural enemy of slugs (biocontrol) and are very useful in their control). You should be aware that any molluscicide which contains metaldehyde will disappear from shelves of garden retailers this summer. The UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and the Health and Safety Executive have concluded that metaldehyde poses an ‘unacceptable risk’ to birds and animals. It will be illegal to sell products containing this from June 2019 although gardeners can use any remaining stock until early 2020.
Ferric phosphate-based pellets are now recommended as more wildlife-friendly. No pesticide is 100% safe, so use only when required and follow the instructions on the label.
Remove dead flowers of spring bulbs such as daffodils so that the plant’s energy can be channelled back into the bulb to flower even better next year rather than going into creating seeds. Additionally, don’t tie the leaves up or cut them down until June, to allow leaves time to photosynthesise so they can provide more energy to the bulbs. You can feed them too with a liquid fertiliser or a small scattering of something like Growmore.
Tie in climbers as they put on flexible young growth (being bent into horizontal positions encourages plants to produce flowers along the whole length of the shoot, rather than just at the top).
If growing early sowings of peas, provide support so they don’t flop to the ground by putting prunings of twiggy cuttings from trees and shrubs, or using canes and netting.
Finally, the one I always forget to do until it is too late, stop new growth of flowering herbaceous plants being damaged/flopping to the ground by netting or staking early.
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Article by -
Diana Cole, Horticulture and Permaculture Tutor
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