Therapy for Troubled Times – Grow How Tips for Late March

If ever there was a time to feel glad that we have a mutual interest in gardening, this is it. Not being able to share our hobby physically at the moment, we can still get on with the myriad jobs of spring, like seed-sowing, herb-growing and fern-titivation………

Calm in the Chaos

Last year’s angst about Brexit seems almost twee by comparison with the fear and anxiety around in this coronapocalyptic atmosphere.

Much has been written recently about the importance of horticulture to enhance well-being, hugely endorsed by the RHS, amongst others, who have brought out a new book on the subject. And they’re right. I’m sure that I can’t ever remember a time when I was more grateful for my small garden – a calm, safe, green space to be alone, to watch a robin search for worms, to admire the little chick-rosettes of tulip bulbs nosing through the soil, to feel the onrushing of a spring that cares nothing for hand-sanitisers, or stock-market collapses, or terrified self-isolation.

Pricking out seedlings
The calm quiet therapy of pricking out seedlings to give them more space to grow and thrive.

So I think what I’m really saying is USE your garden/window-box/greenhouse/houseplants as therapy. Whether you must stay at home or you are choosing to, plants can really help to still the turmoil for you.

Sow some microgreens on a windowsill, repot your bathroom aloe vera, do a little weeding, mend a fence, plan a new border or renovate an old one. And if the weather is against you, read a book about gardening, or a magazine or a catalogue. Or even better, look back at past posts on a marvellous gardening blog-site such as ours! Let the natural world soothe you in these troubling times. I’m a big fan of seed-sowing (I think you might have guessed!) because it conveys such a feeling of hope and growth – we Growbags had fun with the subject in a blog a while ago, which includes a tip on what to do with all those bog-roll tubes everyone appears to have been amassing……..

Now’s the moment to renovate and repaint garden structures – though I fear we might end up with a rather blue honeysuckle!

And who knows? It may just be plants that help us out of this crisis in another way in the end – to quote from the Virology Journal Dec. 2014 on the subject: “Plant-made or ‘biofarmed’ viral vaccines are some of the earliest products of the technology of plant molecular farming, and remain some of the brightest prospects for the success of this field.” To quote the name of that wonderfully futuristic Ikea garden at Chelsea last year (stay strong everyone) ‘Gardening will save the World’

Herb Happiness

Make this the year that you resolve to grow more herbs – culinary, medicinal, or just because they are pretty, smell lovely, are mostly beloved by wildlife, or make fabulous companion-plants to ward nasties away from your precious crops (I feel sure that it was my pots of mint and French marigolds that kept my greenhouse toms and chillies free of whitefly last summer).

You can sow Hardy Annual or Biennial herbs (dill, coriander, chamomile, parsley etc.) now directly on to the soil, and then repeat your sowings a couple more times at 3-weekly intervals to ensure a supply of fresh leaves all summer. You could also sow these seeds indoors ready to plant out later when they are bigger, but don’t try this with chervil or dill because they loathe the transplantation process.

Herbs add so much to a garden, even if you have to grow mint like this in a sunken pot to curb its rampant tendencies!

Sow perennial herbs like fennel, rosemary, chives and sage indoors now, ready to harden off and plant out later in the year.

Herbs in pots look great and the root-restriction of a pot is fairly essential for invasive ones like mint or sweet woodruff. If you’ve already got pots of herbs and they are looking a bit manky, take them out, pull apart the congested roots and snip of them off, then re-pot them in some fresh compost and a touch of slow-release fertiliser.

And if you don’t have a garden or a window-box, you can STILL enjoy the magic of herbs. Basil, coriander, marjoram, mint, chives, parsley…..they will all grow happily in little pots on an indoor window-sill as a cut-and-come again crop. Put them in the sunniest place you can find – they can get a bit leggy and flavourless in darker spots. Keep them moist, but not soaking.

Herbs on a windowsill
No garden? No problem! Grow your herbs on a sunny windowsill

Gardening Shorts

  • Ferns are a lovely addition to shadier places in your garden (or in a weird stumpery, like Laura’s!), and they look better for a tidy-up at this time. Trim away any old ragged leaves, so that you can enjoy the lovely unfurling of the new croziers.
Trim off the old tatty leaves of your ferns now
  • Finish cutting back dogwoods, willows etc. so that they are encouraged to make bright new stems from the base.
Cut dogwood stems right back for gorgeous new shoots next winter
  • Prune out 1 in 3 of the old stems of established blackcurrant bushes especially if they are growing in the middle of the shrub – younger wood carries the heaviest harvests of those delicious berries.
Blackcurrant pruning
Take out one in three of the old blackcurrant stems now

Glasshouse Gorgeousness

At a recent talk we gave, Laura ran through her top 10 conservatory plants. I don’t think they’re ALL the high-falutin’, ‘broomstick-up-the-bottom’ kind of plants that she normally goes in for, though you’ll have to decide that for yourself. I know that she’ll tell you which passion flower (the lovely ‘Constance Elliot’ is our feature picture this week) is best for growing under glass.

She’s written about her ‘Top 10 Conservatory Plants’ explaining how they have earnt their spurs with some tips on how to succeed with them..

______________________________________________________________________________

WANT TO GROW SOME OF YOUR OWN FOOD? This coming Monday (23 March) we’re starting a fortnight of daily blogs on how to create, plant and care for your own small vegetable plot + some tips even if you don’t even have a garden!

Sign up here to join our DigYourOwnaForCorona club

In preparation you might like to buy the following over the weekend, (in small amounts – and they’re not expensive!)

  • Small sharp spade
  • Seed potatoes – ones labelled ‘first’ or ‘second’ earlies
  • Onion sets
  • Seed packets: broad bean; dwarf green beans; courgettes; squashes; tomatoes, salad leaves.
  • Plus: Around three bags of peat-free compost and some little pots – even old yoghurt pots will do.

Let’s get Digging for Victory in 2020!

NB: If you’d like to get The3growbags’ regular weekly blog, just enter your email address here:

GrowHow, , , , , ,

4 Comments

    1. Linda you’ve endorsed what we’ve been saying all week. Aren’t we so blessed to have gardens and to get so much pleasure from them? We are also blessed to be able to have the comradeship of our blog community. Very precious right now, thank you x

  1. Thank you dear Bags for all the info and chirps! On one of our last for the moment outings, I did buy some seeds so really looking forward to help with them as not my forte! ( tho you can hear me on GQT 13 &15 March, with a sneaky notebook on my lap to help me remember some plant names, not because I’m a good gardener, even tho a very keen one!) Roll on Monday and thank you again for your lovely weekly emails too. Keeeeeep digging, and weeding, and planting, and smelling and admiring the joyous results. Celia J.

    1. So lovely to get your message Celia, it’s Caroline here so I’m right with you on being a keen but not very knowledgeable gardener. Laura and I went GQT once in Edinburgh – it’s great fun isn’t it! Well done for getting your question chosen – Laura’s was chosen too (grrr) – I was just outstanding in the clapping department. I did listen to it last week but can’t remember all the questions. I’m so glad you are going to join in our DigYourOwnaForCorona – it should be a lot of fun! Looking forward to digging together in the months to come, very best wishes, C x

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.