Spring is here and your garden is bursting into life once more. Before you get caught up in a frenzy of seed sowing, growing and nurturing here are Forget Me Not Garden Design‘s tips on how to prepare:
Order summer-flowering bulbs and seeds
This is the perfect task for a wet and windy day! Summer-flowering bulbs such as Lilies, Gladiolus and Ranunculis can be planted in early spring for a colourful summer display. Browse the catalogue or website for inspiration on the new varieties of seeds and bulbs to plant and grow this year.
Clear up beds and borders
Have a general tidy-up to remove leaves and other debris from your flower borders, lawns and ponds. You can cut back the old dead growth of deciduous grasses and herbaceous perennials now to be wildlife-friendly. If the soil is workable, you can dig a 5cm layer of organic matter such as well-rotted manure, compost or recycled green waste into empty garden borders.
Clean your greenhouse
Before long your greenhouse will be home to trays of seedlings and cuttings. Sweep out any plant debris on the floor and benches and disinfect with a hot solution of garden disinfectant such as Jeyes Fluid. Make sure you disinfect the inside of the glass too – overwintering pests and disease can survive in the smallest nooks and crannies. Whilst you’re there, wash pots and seed trays to help prevent diseases such as ‘damping off’ infecting your young plants. Ventilate your greenhouse well over the next couple of days so it dries thoroughly.
Sow seeds which need a longer season
In February you can start to sow seeds of plants which require a longer growing season, such as Geranium (Pelargoniums), Begonias, Antirrhinums, Peppers and Aubergines. They’ll need to be grown in a heated propagator or similar to ensure good growth.
Hunt down garden pests
Hunting down and removing hibernating pests now can save a lot of trouble later. Take a closer look at the crowns of your perennial plants and you may find slugs, snails and aphid colonies sheltering for the winter. If you haven’t cleared last year’s pots of summer bedding, do this now and be on the look-out for the white vine weevil larvae, which live in the compost and feed on plant roots. Destroy any you find and be prepared to treat for vine weevils this year, using parasitic nematodes or chemical drenches.
Install water butts
Install water butts in your garden to collect seasonal rainfall. It helps the environment and rain water is good for watering ericaceous plants such as Camellias, Rhododendrons and Blueberries (tap water is often slightly alkaline). When installing a water butt make sure it’s positioned below a downpipe to make the most of the rainfall.
Move deciduous shrubs
If you have a badly placed deciduous shrub then now is the time to move it whilst it is dormant. Choose an overcast day to prevent the roots drying out. Take a wide berth around the shrub when digging it up and try to take as much of the root ball as possible for the quickest establishment in its new location. When planting shrubs in their new position, place them at the same level they were previously in the soil and remember to water them in well afterwards.
Fix fences, gates and trellis
They may be dreary jobs but any broken structures or tools are best fixed now so you have more time to spend in the garden during spring and summer. Treat your wooden garden structures with a wood preservative during dry periods too.
Clean gardening tools
Clean and sharpen your garden tools. It helps preserve them, saving you money, and helps prevent the spread of disease. Dirty secateurs may introduce bacteria and fungi to fresh pruning wounds. Sharpening your tools will also improve their performance; they’ll be easier to work with and will give cleaner pruning cuts.
Create a compost
If you haven’t already then try setting up a compost area in your garden. This could simply be a ready-made compost bin or you could build a compost bin yourself using spare bits of wood. Not only will you have somewhere to put your garden waste but your plants will benefit from the rich compost created when it all breaks down. Make sure you have a good mixture of grass clippings, vegetable peelings, paper and woody prunings. To help the process along you’ll need to turn your compost with a garden fork each month to keep it aerated.
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For more advice and garden inspiration, the Forget-Me-Not team can be contacted at www.forgetmenotgardendesign.co.uk or telephone Malcolm on 07769 632890, Office 0208 361 2852 (answering machine) or email firstname.lastname@example.org