Spring is finally upon us - the clocks will be going forward and the daffodils will be blooming. It's time to celebrate the start of the (hopefully) warmer months and a great excuse to get out into the garden. Phil McCann has put together his top 10 tips to help your garden flourish through the first month of Spring...
Top 10 March gardening tips:
- 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.
An overview of March...
'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.
Plants starting to bud
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.
Keep an eye on the weather
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.
Sowing seeds and weeding
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.