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Our garden expert Phil McCann will be keeping us informed about what's he's been up to each week in his garden with his Gardener's Diary. From how he's dealt with the weather each week brings to keeping an eye on that bird food theif, keep up to date with Phil and his gardening right here.

He'll also be keeping us up to date with all the gardening events which will be happening over the country, check in his diary and below to see what's happening near you this week. Keep an eye out, you may spot Phil there too!

Phils Diary March week 4

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Gardening events this week:

17th March - 19th May - RHS Lindley Library - Exhibition: Potted

3rd March - 7th April - RHS Lindley Library - Course: Exploring Garden History

20th - 21st March - RHS Garden Rosemoor - Devon Chilli Fiesta

20th March - Guided tour of Rhianfa Chateau and grounds plus lunch

20th March - Barnsdale Gardens - Vegetables  all year round

21st March - RHS Garden Rosemoor - Garden Rosemoor Free Day

21st March - RHS Garden Hyde Hall - Free day Tuesday

21st March - RHS Garden Rosemoor - March Madness Fair

21st March - RHS Garden Harlow - Spring Free Day

21st March - D'arcy & Everest LTD - Nursery Tour

22nd March - RHS Garden Hyde Hall - Spring Propagation

22nd March - Hardy's Cottage Garden - Early flowering Spring perennials

22nd March - RHS Garden Rosemoor - Sucess with seeds and cuttings

23rd March - Barnsdale Gardens - Watercolour Painting Day: Spring Flowers

24th - 26th March - RHS Garden Wisley - Spring plant fair

25th March - East Lambrook Manor - Early Spring plant fair

25th March - RHS Garden Rosemoor - AGM Plants for Spring interest

25 - 26th March - RHS Garden Rosemoor - Time with Mum

25th - 26th March - RHS Garden Wiseley - Bonsai show and repotting service

25th - 26th March - RHS Garden Harlow - Mother's Day weekend

To find out more visit the RHS website here

Top tips for March:

  • Stop slugs nibbling your fresh shoots.
  • Plant early potatoes.
  • Pop your onion and shallots sets in the soil. 
  • Sow short rows of beetroot and carrots.
  • Keep frost protection handy.
  • Plant soft fruit bushes.
  • Plant lilies, begonias and dahlias. 
  • Mow the lawn if it's dry.
  • Pull out annual weeds as they grow.
  • Clear out debris from ponds.

 

Phil's tip of the week:

"Cover crowns of rhubarb with a bucket or rhubarb forcer to exclude light. This forces the shoots up resulting in tender tasty stalks for your pies and crumbles. Take the bucket off after two weeks or so."

March in a nutshell:

'Spring is sprung, the grass is ris, I wonder where the birdies is?' Yay, spring is here and so are the dawn chorus, the flitting about of a wren or two, the 100m dash of the blackbirds and the ever growing confidence of a robin centimetres away as I dig and hoe. However, if that woodpigeon doesn't stop scoffing all the wild bird food I put out for the blue and coal tits, there could be strong words. But the mornings and early evenings are getting lighter and every plant seems to be bursting with the joys of...well, spring! It has to be my favourite time of year.

 

The snowdrops are just about fading but my camellias are now taking over. And what a show. Even specimens that are usually a little shy have produced more buds than ever. I won't mind picking over the fading blooms over the coming weeks to keep the display looking tip top. Otherwise camellias, rhodos and azaleas just do their thing on their own.

 

I do keep a close eye on the weather forecast at this time of year (at all times of the year actually, but I don't get out much!) It can get cold - frosts are a killer of potatoes and dahlias so a roll of horticultural fleece is on constant standby. Sheets of newspaper placed gently on trays of seedlings in the greenhouse late evening will help keep off a degree or so of frost. Always take the paper off before mid-morning.

 

Direct sowing of seeds into the soil is a great way to celebrate spring, but the temperature of the soil has to be high enough for seeds to grow. One way to check is a soil thermometer, another is to - and I haven't tried this but I am assured many people do -  is to sit, bared cheeks down on the soil and if you have a sharp intake of breath, then it's too nippy for seeds. My favourite way and one guaranteed not to upset the neighbour’s dog is to note when the weeds start growing. If it's warm enough for chickweed, then it's warm enough for your annual seeds. 

 

If it isn't too personal a question…how are your chits? Short and stubby hopefully as these are the ones that will eventually produce strong stems and a bumper crop of spuds. Some plant seed potatoes out now and that's fine for early varieties and you lot in the milder areas of the country. If you are unsure then hold on – don't get ahead of yourself as it doesn't take much to knock you and your sowings back to square one. Garden by the weather forecast and not the calendar. Check out long range forecasts to get an idea of what might happen. You'll thank me for it when you're tucking into a plateful of roasties.