It’s time to get moving

Date:

At last, there are jobs waiting on your list this month – Pete Harcom suggests a good start now will prevent things getting out of hand later

Even a tiny garden pond will encourage frogs, birds, slowworms and beetles, and all these help to keep those slug and snail populations down without resorting to pellets

At last, spring is in the air – but be careful, don’t get too excited and start buying bedding plants too early. It may be best to wait until late March before you purchase too many tender plants such as fuchsias and pelargoniums, unless you have some good frost protection like cloches or a cold greenhouse. It can be late April or even May before night-time frosts are actually over.

Jobs for March

  • from this month onwards – just rake the soil to a fine tilth on a dry day before you sow them. Watch the weather forecasts for frosty nights and protect if necessary with cloches or horticultural fleece – even old net curtain works!
  • Using a hoe may be all that is needed to keep weeds down before they get a hold in your borders. If it’s done in early March, when weeds in the borders are small, it will save a lot of work in the future. After the weeding is done, and if the soil is moist, it is a good idea to cover with a thick layer of mulch or garden compost.
  • March is the last chance to plant bare-rooted trees and shrubs. Now the soil is warming up, shrubs will soon begin to grow.
  • Fuchsias that were potted up in a cold greenhouse should start budding soon – start watering, sparingly at first, and prune away unwanted old growth.
  • Try and warm up your potting soils by storing them in the greenhouse or shed before starting off seeds.
  • Top up any potted plants with an inch or so of fresh soil.

Pest control
Slug pellets are a problem for hedgehogs and frogs as they eat the snails and slugs that have been killed by the slug pellets and are then poisoned themselves. To reduce your reliance on slug pellets try creating even a small wildlife pond – they encourage wildlife in general, of course, but particularly frogs, birds, slow worms and beetles… and all these help to keep slug and snail populations down.
Remember to clean up the inside of any bird nest boxes before the garden birds start exploring!

Pruning
Prune Group 1 winter or early spring flowering clematis after they have flowered. Large flowered clematis (Group 2) can be pruned slightly, as they flower on the current year’s growth.
The late summer flowering clematis (Group 3) should be cut now to around 30cm (1ft) above ground level, as they flower on this year’s growth. If you don’t prune these early, they may produce flowers too high on the plants for you to enjoy!
Prune bush and shrub roses hard.
Cut back any Cornus (dogwood) in the garden now for more colourful stems next year, and also prune your winter-flowering jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) when it finishes flowering, to similarly encourage new growth for next year’s blooms.
And don’t forget – the clocks will go forward on 31st March …

Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre

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