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Peter’s Gardening tips for March 2017

When will Spring properly ‘Spring?!’

It appears elusive at the moment but the signs are there…. snowdrops almost finished, daffodils popping up and showing colour, a few primroses, occasional Queen bumble bees, the odd butterfly on a warm day, and the birds pairing up looking for nesting sites and the start of the dawn chorus when the weather allows! Frost, snow, hail, rain, gales and a bit of sunshine it is the ‘fickle’ month of March.

Queen Bumble Bee

My own garden and many of my customers are looking a mess after Storm Doris. A Spring tine rake works wonders flicking out the twiggy bits off the lawns and borders. If the ground or lawn is squelchy keep off it! Wait until it dries out.

At the of the end of Summer 2016 I took on an allotment after a few years of waiting, over the coming months I will keep you abreast of what is going on. My own garden is not big enough to grow much veg, only in pots or grow bags and as the children get older they need more room to play. The allotment will be educational for them and us too.

My very weedy allotment!

Firstly, we had the weeds to sort out at the end of last Summer, it was full of couch grass and bindweed, so I’m afraid I did reach for the Glyphosate or Roundup weed killer. This was applied and allowed to work for 3-4 weeks before I attacked the ground with the rotorvator – having checked that the roots of the couch and bindweed were dead. I added all the spent compost I had from sweet pea pots, potatoes, containers, split bags of compost etc to the surface before rotorvating roughly to a depth of 10 inches. This was left rough for the Winter frosts to help break it up.

Preparing for planting garlic bulbs

We have already been busy and planted up the Garlic bulbs with the children working off scaffold boards. I have also bought some open ground Cordon /Fan apples, plum, peach, nectarine, raspberries and recycled some strawberries and asparagus crowns from friends. These have all been healed in (planted roughly in a temporary spot covering the roots with soil and firming the soil down with the heel of your boot!). I now wait for the ground to dry out to plant these fruit trees and bushes in their final planting positions – this needs to be done by the end of March.

Jobs to do and some I have been tackling:

  • Walk the garden with the pen and paper, record and photograph where possible what has been happening after the Winter months, this may help if you want to split snowdrops etc and re-site.
  • Damage to shed roof, trellis, loose climber with broken stems, moss to control in the lawn, algae on the path?
  • State of the lawn? First cut with the blades set high.
  • Prune roses, apples, pears and wisteria.
  • Herbaceous plants to dig up and split.
  • Planting of roses, fruit trees and bushes.
  • Rake up twigs, leaves and detritus.
  • Clean bird baths and feeding stations.
  • Put up or clean out nest boxes for the birds.
  • Tickle over borders with a border fork – Rootle or Firkle!
  • Mulch herbaceous plants and roses.
  • Set about weeding – they pull out of the ground very easily when the ground is wet and after frost in the ground.
  • Start sowing indoors – tomatoes, peas, broad beans, sweet peas, peppers, aubergines, some will need a heated propagator or a minimum temperature of 16 – 21ºC to germinate – check packets for timing of seed sowing and temps, some require constant night and day heat?
  • Buy your seed potatoes, shallots, onion sets and seeds.
  • Check all machinery, book a service and sharpening and a good old clean up, wire brush and oily rag.

I know the weather is frustrating a lot of gardeners wanting to get on with seed sowing and ground preparation. We’ve just got to wait! Seeds won’t germinate in cold wet soil!

I am very happy to answer your gardening queries as usual.

Lots of new gardening products to talk about soon!

Enjoy the big outdoors whatever the weather and armchair gardening!!!

RHS Spring Plant Fairs at RHS Gardens near you this month. Go to RHS website for details.

Happy Gardening!

P.S  I am happy to answer any of your gardening questions too, so feel free to leave them below and I will do my best to reply! 

Visit my website too ←

Peter

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Peter Mills

I love everything to do with natural history, wildlife, biodiversity and of course horticulture - basically the big outdoors. I grew up with very good teachers namely my parents and my French grandfather who was a superb grower of vegetables. At Hadlow College I studied a three year OND in Horticulture. I had a market stall selling plants. Went onto wholesaling house plants to florists and garden centres across southern England. In 1986 I joined Clandon Park Garden Centre as manager. Whilst there I started my career as a gardening radio presenter with the BBC Southern Counties Radio. This continued for 15 years, building up valuable contacts with the RHS Wisley, live broadcasts from Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower shows, South of England & Surrey County shows etc. Since 1998 I have been self-employed, working as a Head Gardener and in private gardens . Through the RHS Advisory Department at Wisley I advise on horticultural problems in members gardens, including pest & disease problems, lawn-care advice, pruning of wisterias, fruit trees, roses, wildlife gardening, growing fruit & vegetables, creating wildflower meadows, identifying plants and control of pernicious weeds. I am an extremely lucky guy who loves what I do and the trade called Horticulture!

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suey123
24th Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
When should plant snowball tree [viburnum opulus roseum
Peter Mills
26th Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
Hi suey123,
No problem planting any shrub at the moment, as long as it is kept moist and doesn't dry out.
Kind regards Peter
Dimeye
21st Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
How late can you plant new potatoes ? (My plot isn't ready yet)
Peter Mills
22nd Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
Hi Dimeye,
Don't Panic it's too early to plant seed potatoes unless you have a polytunnel. General rule of thumb is 1st early potatoes are planted at Easter. Please don't plant in wet, cold, frosty ground. Wait until the ground warms up.
Garden Centres have a good selection of seed potatoes or try specialist potatoe suppliers like Pennard Plants. Be quick as many varieties will be sold out.
Kind regards Peter
Piggypat
21st Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
Thank you Peter I think I have mad a boo boo by putting broad beans in now
Peter Mills
22nd Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
Hi Piggypat,
No you haven't made a boo boo. Broad beans can be planted now, either started indoors in module seed trays or sown directly into the ground. Kings Seeds have a great selection of vegetable and flower seeds.
Kind regards Peter
Wellingtonpie
19th Mar 2017
1
Thanks for voting!
Morning. This is my first time writing on this although I've seen it many times.
I'm retired and my garden is my sanity and although I have other hobbies this is one that I can share with my grandchildren.
Peter Mills
20th Mar 2017
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Wellingtonpie,
Thank you for your comments. Gardening is the best therapy for Mind, Body and Soul!! The children love the opportunity to learn about gardening from their Grandparents too. My French grandfather was a fabulous grower of vegetables... I'm still learning!
leonine
13th Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
We have several mature acers and a magnolia as well as a few camellias which are getting out of control! When is the best time to prune them please and is there a particular way to do it?
Peter Mills
20th Mar 2017
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Leonine,
Acers can be pruned when completely dormant Jan/Feb with a sharp pruning saw or June/July.
Magnolias I prune after flowering. Be prepared for strong regrowth or water shoots.
Camellias also after flowering and you can cut back really hard into old stems with no leaves. They will regenerate!
Feed all with Vitax Ericaeous liquid feed.
Kind regards Peter
leonine
21st Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
Thank you for your advice especially about the camellias which are really getting out of hand.
cjtoday
10th Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
I'm of to my 88 year old mums to review her garden.. I can only get there once a week and she has a large garden with borders all round split with a path up the centre for her washing line..
Unfortunately she can not do gardening because of her condition and she doesn't want a garden done by anyone else.
could send a photo for a few tips please.
Peter Mills
20th Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
Hi cjtoday,
It's not possible for me to review photos i'm afraid but if you leave me a specific question I would be happy to try and answer it if i can.
Kind regards
Peter
Marley444
9th Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
Hello Peter ... my ground elder is coming up again this year in my flower beds amongst my new plants ... what would you suggest I do? I haven't had much luck with Weedol over the last couple of years so I must be doing soemthing wrong. Many thanks
Peter Mills
9th Mar 2017
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Marley,
Ground Elder is one of the worst garden weeds and one of the most difficult to control!
Digging it up thoroughly going down 6 inches and picking out any broken white roots is vital, as the smallest piece is able to make a new plant!
Regular cutting back of ground elder does weaken it; you don't often find it growing in a lawn that is mown regularly.
Weedol will only burn the foliage and set it back. What you need is a systemic weedkiller such as SBK weedkiller or Roundup weedkiller or Garden super strength weedkiller from Bayer. Do Not spray any of these weed killers on your plants. Read application rates carefully.
I've even dug up entire beds of plants, washed the roots, separated plants and left the ground bare of plants to eradicate the ground elder for 6 months to a year!!
I hope this helps. It's a battle. Good luck...
Kind regards Peter
Wilf
2nd Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!
Very interesting as always. I have just put a few bags of grass food and moss killer on my lawn and the moss has already started to blacken. It was probably a few weeks too early but it has been raining a lot so the feed will have washed nicely into the roots. Lets see what happens in a few weeks when it warms up and the grass starts to grow.
Peter Mills
3rd Mar 2017
1
Thanks for voting!
Thanks Wilf,
You can rake out the moss 2-3 weeks after applying the moss killer with a spring tine rake or scarifer when it stops raining so much!
Kind regards Peter
Wilf
4th Mar 2017
0
Thanks for voting!

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