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Growing - Notes for the Spring Garden

Updated: Aug 1, 2019


Magnolia

The conventional notion of Spring is March, April and May, however it is as well to bear in mind that the weather during the past decade has been decidedly unpredictable and it would be wise to adjust these notes accordingly. It is not intended, to tell you how to carry out the tasks, just simply a reminder of when they are normally done. For detailed instructions on methods, please consult a recognised handbook, such as The RHS Encyclopaedia of Gardening, Dr D.G.Hessayon series of Expert Books or similar..


Flower garden


Early Spring is normally a good time to prune established roses, sow hardy annuals outdoors and half hardy annuals in a heated propagator or heated bench, or even a windowsill indoors. A good time to lift and divide congested clumps of hardy perennials. Borders need to be tidied, weeded and finished with a thick mulch of compost or manure.

By the middle of Spring, it is likely the lawn will need a trim and after the first cut, will need feeding and weeding, or possibly a more radical treatment such as forking and top dressing..Plant new roses, trees , shrubs and perennials. feed existing hedges, trees, roses, shrubs with a general purpose fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone and prick out those half hardy annuals you sowed earlier in the month or pot-up as necessary.

By late Spring, early flowering shrubs will need pruning, but not until they have finished flowering. Box hedges are traditionally pruned on Derby day in early June, but late Spring will be perfectly suitable. Plant out half hardy annuals in containers and beds when the weather is conducive and it seems as though the last frosts have gone.Similarly plant out dahlias and bring out houseplants onto the patio. Plant out tender shrubs and take cuttings from the new growth of shrubs and perennials.


Fruit andVegetable Garden


March

March is the month when things really start to move in the growing season.

If the weather is cold but otherwise reasonable, you can steal some time and start early by cloching and fleecing.

Plant out your onion and shallot sets. If growing onions from seed started earlier in the year under cover these can also go out now. You can also direct sow onions,

March is the right time to establish an asparagus bed if you are starting from crowns. Mid March should let you start planting out those potatoes you’ve had chitting.

Sow beetroot,broad beans,early peas brussels sprouts, kohl rabi,leeks,lettuce,radish,parsnips,spinach beet,early turnips.

A windowsill or a propagator in the greenhouse will come into use now to start off your tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers.

There is still time to finish planting bare rooted fruit trees and bushes, especially raspberries and other cane fruits.

Early this month you can still prune apple and pear trees while they are still dormant. There is also time to prune gooseberries and currants. They’ll benefit from some compost spread around the base as well or some general purpose fertiliser like fish, blood & bone. Trees will appreciate some wood ash spreading under them.

Any leeks left standing should come up now Parsnips too should come up in early March before they try and re-grow. Don’t forget to keep checking the purple sprouting!

Have a good tidy up and finish those odd construction jobs.


April


By April spring should be well and truly underway, the soil warming up nicely and everything growing away.

If March has been difficult and you’ve not managed to get much done, you’re going to have a busy April. With onions you’re really pushing it so if they’re not planted make it one of the first jobs of the month. The weeds won’t be slow and it’s time to sharpen your hoe.

Sow beetroot, peas, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, chard, kohl rabi, leeks, spinach, rocket, lettuce, radish

Cover your carrots with fleece.

Plant Outdoors, onion & shallot sets, globe artichokes, jerusalem artichokes, asparagus.

April is the traditional potato planting time.

Plant under cover in greenhouse, coldframe or polytunnel, celery, outdoor cucumbers, tomatoes (outdoor varieties).

Sow outdoors under cloche, french beans, lettuce, sweetcorn.

Strawberries can be planted out now, hand pollinate peaches and nectarines. A good layer of compost around the base of fruit trees will ensure they have the nutrition to provide another good crop. Harvest late sprouting and chards

Slugs and snails are coming out overnight so take action now.


May


Generally May is one of the busiest months on the vegetable plot. The soil is warm and the plants growing well. But watch out for a sneaky late frost

Hoe regularly to keep the weeds at bay and thin out root crops such as carrots,beetroot, turnips and parsnips.

There is a lot to sow this month and with many crops you can sow one set and then a few weeks later re-sow to give you a succession of fresh vegetables, eg. french beans, runner beans, beetroot, broccoli, calabrese, cabbage, cauliflowers, chicory, kale, kohl rabi, peas, turnips and swedes.

Your salad crops should be sown in succession, such as lettuce and leaves such as rocket, radishes and spring onions.

Sow under cover sweetcorn, courgette, marrow, pumpkin and squash.

Plant out brussels sprouts, summer cabbages, celery, celeriac and leeks.

Aubergine, peppers (chilli and sweet), cucumber, tomatoes should be ready for their final home, be it the border, a growbag or pot.

Strawberries planted this year will perform better in subsequent years if you remove the flowers so they don’t set fruit in the first year.

Keep hoeing off the weeds but perennial weeds like dandelion and dock will need their roots removing to prevent re-growth.

Keep on top of pets such as slugs and snails and cover carrots with fleece.

Depending on what you planted, you may have some salad crops ready. Hardy lettuce, spring onions and radish may well be available.

If you tried potatoes undercover, you may well be getting the odd meal from these.

Winter cauliflowers, spring cabbage, sprouting broccoli and kale should be ready now.

The luxury crop asparagus may be starting for you as well this month.

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