With spring in the air its an ‘exciting time in the garden. In a matter of a few short weeks the gardening season will be in full swing. As the days draw out and start to get longer, itâ€™s a signal for garden plants to emerge from their slumber. Wonderful signs of spring can be seen all around the garden. Early spring bulbs are starting to push through the cold dark soil and the buds on early trees and shrubs are starting to swell and burst. The garden is coming alive and its time for gardeners to get started. The more you get done now the better prepared you will be for the whole year.
If you haven’t already done so, order your seeds for the year ahead. Either go online to your favorite seed supplier and make you order easily for delivery to your door, or pay a visit to the garden center where you will find a whole array of wonderful seeds from one or more suppliers.
After a pretty cold and windy winter, existing garden plants may have been damaged by the weather. Check all your trees, roses and other shrubs for signs of winter damage. Prune out any broken stems and branches, using sharp secateurs or loppers, taking great care to leave a clean, smooth wound so that fungal diseases can’t find a way in. Adjust any loose tree ties and tie in any growth that is being rocked by wind and rain, especially on climbers and wall shrubs.
February is a great time to top up mulches around your trees, shrubs and roses. This will hold the soil moisture around your plant roots and reduce the rate of evaporation from the soil surface. Firm in any that are newly planted and may have been lifted by the heavy frost and cold weather.
Tidy up and remove any dead leaves from around the base of your shrubs and roses, especially if the plants have been affected by fungal problems. Black spot in particular will over winter on dead leaves and be ready to infect your plants when the weather turns in spring. Remove any affected leaves and if possible burn them to destroy the fungal spores.
Buy some suitable fertilizer for roses, trees and shrubs so that you are ready to apply it next month as the sap starts to rise and your plants are growing more strongly.
You can feed fruit trees and bushes with a controlled release fertilizer now to start them into growth. These high tech plant foods are designed to release fertilizer to your plants when the growing conditions are right. When the weather is cold and the plants are growing slowly, the granules trickle feed tiny amounts of feed to the plants. But as the weather warms and the plants are encouraged to grow more vigorously the granules release larger amounts of nutrients to support this surge in growth. If you garden organically then choose a pelleted chicken manure, preferably sourced from free-range hens and apply late February or early March.
Warm the soil in the vegetable garden before you start sowing seeds, ideally for two weeks using cloches or black polythene, this will take the chill off the soil. Then choose a mild spell and sow short rows of broad bean seeds and peas into shallow trenches filled with a quality compost. Cover over with cloches and protect from slugs using your preferred method. Repeat fortnightly to extend the harvest season. Early summer cabbage, radish, turnips and leeks can also be sown under cloches in late February.
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