Spring is coming! Here in Frome we've had a few days now of clear blue skies and nice warm sun. The buds are starting to bloom!
Spring is usually fully here by the middle of the month and the increasingly frequent sunny days give us the chance to get back in the garden and feel the warmth of the sun on our face, and on our back. We need to get busy preparing our seed beds, sowing our seed, cutting back those increasingly untidy looking winter shrubs and generally tidying things up.
These are our Top Ten jobs for the coming month:
Protect new spring shoots from slugs. Yes the time has come! As those new tender shoots start to emerge we need to start thinking about how we can keep the slugs at bay. Whilst they can cause damage throughout most of the year, the early spring is when slugs seems to cause most harm and we need to think now about how we can keep these gastropods away from our young plants! Hostas, dahlias, sweet peas and tulips are all at risk in the flower bed whilst those slugs can also be partial to your peas, beans and potatoes. In the past many of us would have used slug pellets to try and control these pests but now we're encouraged to try something far more environmentally friendly - we'll write an article on the options open to us shortly.
Mow the lawn on a dry day - if it's needed! 1st March in Frome and the sun was shining. The customer where we were planting apple trees and developing a veg patch took advantage of the weather and gave her lawn a trim! Setting the mower blades quite high she took the tips off her sward - and it looked all the better for it!
Get hoeing! We've spoken about this on the radio and it's the best way to get on top of those weeds before they start to take hold. Hand hoe for the young annual ones as they start to poke through and use something like our hori hori for those more persistent perennials that try as hard as you might, always seem to hang around. Having tackled them it's time to mulch the area to try and keep them under control!
Apply some compost as a top dressing for your containers. We're lucky in Frome as there seems to be lots of livery yards that are only too happy to let us in with our sacks and spade and to start digging away. Make sure that if you can get some then you do, but make sure that it's well rotted before you apply it to your growing areas. If it's not then leave it somewhere safe and then use it in the future.
Get your summer flowering bulbs ready. Wherever you look - gardening catalogues, garden centres, DIY stores and even in some supermarkets you'll start to see summer flowering bulbs. If you're after a good display of dahlias, alliums, agapanthus or cannas then keep your eyes peeled and pick some up. All will need the soil to be warm so whilst getting those bulbs now might be a great idea, we'd leave planting them until the end of the month.
Get free plants! - Lift and divide your summer flowering perennials. Now's the time to gently lift those overgrown summer flowering perennials - like agapanthus, crocosmia, euphorbia and hosta - carefully tease them apart and using a sharp spade or knife cut them up. We did that with some Limelight heuchera the other day and from one large plant we ended up with six!
Start feeding the fish and using the pond fountain. And of course keep your eyes out for frog spawn! We were at a lovely house in Frome and noticed not just three large amounts of spawn but also the frogs that we guess would have been responsible! And going back to that first job for the month - protecting our plants from slugs - frogs and toads play a vital role in our garden eco-system and should be encouraged!
Prune your roses. We've mentioned this before, and on the radio, but now is a good time to tackle your bush and climbing roses. Prune out the dead and diseased wood first, then take out any stems that are crossing and then cut back to an outward facing bud. Finally, and if yours is a climber, make sure you tie that new growth in to the support framework.
Cut back your dogwood and willow if you'd like even more colourful stems next winter. When some shrubs are pruned hard, they regrow vigorously producing more colourful stems that brighten up the garden in winter. Dogwood and willow are two such shrubs that will benefit from some hard pruning towards the end of the month - enjoy the colourful stems for a couple more weeks - and then cut them back hard.
Plant your shallots, onion sets and early potatoes. If you keep an eye on what we're up to through our social media then you'll know that we have a couple of Mr McGregor-style veg patches on the go for some of our customers. We've built them from scratch and they're coming along nicely. Both customers have ordered shallots, red onions and early potatoes and like us up at Muriel Jones will be planting up very shortly. We'll post our endeavours on the website - follow how we do it and how we get, and try the same! There you go. That's shallot!
We’ll update you with what we get up to throughout the month. If you have any questions or would like us to look at what you need to have done in your garden, then we’d be delighted to hear from you.
And don't forget that you can listen to us chat all things gardening on FromeFM. We're on every 4 weeks with our next show going out across the airwaves (or World Wide Web) at 1pm on 7th March!