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March Garden Notes

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Autumn is upon us already, personally my favourite season, with the cooler weather, it brings with it a growing list of ‘to dos’ in the garden.

Always Think A Season Ahead

Autumn is definitely the best time of year to plant trees and shrubs, the soil is still warm and the likelihood of extended hot weather is past, meaning that anything planted now has the best conditions to get established before winter hits and the soil cools right down. By planting in Autumn rather than Spring, plants will have had more time to develop a good root system, meaning they will be much better placed to cope with hot weather next Spring and Summer. Make sure to water your plants in with a seaweed solution to help prevent transplant shock and watch them grow!

Prep Your Soil Now To Ensure Your Dream Winter Garden

You will notice a definite shift towards winter veg and flowers on the seedling benches. In flowers we now see pansies, viola, cineraria, stocks and the like, while the veggie focus moves to cabbage, cauliflower, kale, the onions etc. It’s also time to get stuck into planting seeds. Sweet Pea is the first one that springs to my mind. I try to have mine in the ground by mid-March, folklore says by St Patricks Day! Good soil preparation is the key for autumn planting, a lot of the winter veg, like cabbages and caulies, are heavy feeders and need lots of compost and animal manure worked into the soil before planting. Don’t forget that all of these plants can be grown successfully in raised garden beds and pots too! 

Protecting Your Garden From Creepy Crawlies & The Likes

Keep a close eye on any new plantings of brassica; cabbage, cauliflower and the likes, as they are very prone to infestations of pesky green caterpillars. White cabbage moths lay their eggs under the leaves and the grubs, when they hatch, have large appetites and will strip the leaves in no time. You can control these by removing by hand, spraying with a pesticide or applying tomato and vegetable dust regularly. Snails can also be a problem so think about putting out snail pellets when you plant, preferably a pet-friendly one!

Thinking Two Seasons Ahead!

Spring Flowering Bulbs are available to plant now and will reward you with a brilliant show of colour, with little effort, either in the garden or in pots. Daffodils, Hyacinth, Freesia, Ranunculus, Anemone and Tulips are all proven performers. If you buy Tulips, remember to put them in the crisper of your fridge for 4-6 weeks before you plant them, as they need a period of chilling to simulate the cold Northern Hemisphere Winter. In the garden, plant your bulbs in large groups or “drifts” to maximize the effect when they flower in spring. Bulbs also look stunning in low pots or bowls. Use a good Bulb Planting Compost and really crowd them in, you can have them touching if you like! This will give you a wonderful display, and being in pots also means that you can move them around the garden or patio to enjoy when and where you want.

Repairing The Summer Sun’s Damage

Now that the weather is milder, you can look to tidy up plants that may have been scorched over Summer. Trim any damaged leaf off now and there is plenty of time for fresh new growth to appear, this goes for hedges too, which will benefit from a prune and shape now. A feed with Rapid Raiser or similar fertiliser will be beneficial too, hopefully we get some rain to water it in, if not, you will need to do this by hand or with an irrigation system.

Keep Your Watering Buckets Handy!

If the weather gods aren’t kind and we don’t get reasonable Autumn rains, you will still need to water, in particular fruit trees which are currently setting their fruit wood for next season. Skimping on water now will definitely have an impact on the size of your crop next Summer. With the weather we’ve been having I’m still giving my trees a good weekly soaking, especially my lemon which is madly setting new fruit. Speaking of citrus, please don’t delay if you want to plant one or two. New season stock is due in stores this month and they must be planted into warm soil, if put into cold soil they can sulk for years before they get going, if ever! Autumn rains will also mean autumn weeds! Control early while they are still small by hand cultivating, spraying and also mulching to smother them.

So, as you can see there is a lot happening at this time of the year. Get into your local Stratco store now, stock up on all the great new fresh plants and dig in. As always we are here to help with all your gardening questions, so don’t hesitate to ask us about anything relating to gardens and gardening, enjoy!