Grow-How Tips for Spring

Elaine

Help! There’s suddenly so much to do in the garden and not enough hours in the day to do them all! The trick is just to get started on something somewhere – one job at a time, that’s the secret. Here are a few to consider:

Pinch out the top of your sweetpea seedlings

PLANTING OUT THE SWEETPEAS
If you have germinated sweetpea seeds and they have grown on well in root-trainers or modules while you have gradually accustomed them to outside temperatures, now is the time to put them in their planting positions next to the wigwam of poles or trellis etc. you have prepared for them.

Copper rings to protect from snails and slugs

Try not to disturb the roots too much as you plant them, but if you haven’t already done so, pinch out the top growing tip (if you’d like the Latin, and who wouldn’t, it’s the ‘apical bud’) between your thumb and forefinger – it encourages the side shoots which will carry many more flowers later on.

Once each little plant is in the ground, put some slug and snail protection. My preferred method is to use copper rings which we cut from copper piping, though they can be bought bespoke. Slugs and snails hate crossing copper so these protect the stems while they are young and vulnerable.

GETTING TIED UP
I don’t want to seem impertinent, but do you know how to tie plants up? Your plants are growing strongly and it’s important to keep on top of tying in the shoots, so that they will show flowers or fruit to their best advantage this summer, and not be damaged or flattened by winds or rain. Please don’t put wire around plant-stems – it always damages them sooner or later. By all means, use wires in the background for rigidity but secure plants to them using flexi-tie or soft twine. When you’re tying something, run the twine in a complete circle round the cane once before tying it loosely round the stem, which will allow some movement without the twine slipping down. Do the same thing round canes you use to make a network over a clump-forming plant. It will look like you’re playing a very exotic game of garden cat’s cradle, but that’s okay because your gorgeous flowers will soon obscure them.

Time to cut back early-flowering Coronilla

PRUNING THE EARLIES
We have enjoyed the early-flowering shrubs – forsythia, kerria, flowering currant, coronilla etc., and once the flowers have faded, it’s time to cut them back. Take out the oldest flowered wood, and any thin wispy stems. I love my Coronilla glauca which flowers for weeks in March and April but it becomes very lax and leggy without a good annual prune, and that is basically a short back-and-sides – I cut back all the shoots at this time, and let the stems grow back through the summer that will bear all the pretty pale yellow flowers next spring.

GARDENING SHORTS
* Do keep going with the weeding. What do they say? ‘The best compost is the gardener’s shadow’, or to paraphrase Winston Churchill ‘Keep pottering on’, so every time you walk along the garden path, pull up any weeds while they are still small and before they represent competition for nutrition and space to your plants

* Train shoots on climbing roses horizontally, if you can – you’ll get more flowers

* Remember not to plant anything straight outside that has been growing inside – the temperature shock will be too much. For about a week, set them outside during the day and bring them in at night, before you plant them out for real.

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5 Comments

  1. Me too, overwhelmed, everything growing so fast. Now I regret all those seeds sown with trays to cosset and pot on, will I ever learn. I aim at doing one bigger job to start such as clearing the so called allotment and then reward myself with the more relaxing and enjoyable doodling with this and that. Forget the lawn, that’s not priority. Same with the path sweeping. Now I feel ashamed so will be off to make amends.
    Happy gardening!
    Carol
    Ps viola labradorica, so charming lifting their faces from the most difficult corners

    1. Mmm Carol are you sure about the lawn? Caroline here (Elaine is whooping it up at her son’s birthday dinner in Dieppe tonight). I was always told if you had last minute visitors coming you should hoover. I think the same with cutting your lawns and doing the edges. It’s inglorious but everything else looks better when they’re done. I know it’s not what you want to hear…..

  2. Yes but fingers crossed no one is visiting! I agree a cut lawn sets the scene. Edges can barely be seen because of the thugs. I now have the annual dilemma to balance the delightful self sowers sometimes know as weeds. I love the way they can knit together in lovely combinations, but it can be more tricky and I wish I could be heartless and strip them all out. Campanula the mauve starry one is needing severe management as it will swamp everything and sooooo difficult to pick out the roots. Any ideas? Glysophate?
    Carol

    1. Hi Carol, Laura here (you’re getting every sister but the one you want today) and yes normally the answer to every unwanted invasive garden plant is glyphosate but just be careful your campanula isn’t one enormous spreading plant, as glyphosate is systemic and will be carried through the root system and annihilate the parts that other chemicals cannot reach, so you may end up expunging it from your garden completely!

  3. Thanks Laura Not possible, it has invaded every pot and nook. Lovely in flower,but so heavy handed. Might give vinegar a go. Meanwhile lying on my belly on my now cut lawn ignoring the problem.

    Carol

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