As the days grow longer, it’s time to start thinking about our neglected outdoor spaces. Garden expert Bob Flowerdew gives us his tips on getting things back in gear…
1. Get pruning
Before you start, examine each and every plant in your care for pests and diseases. It’s important to do any leftover fruit pruning as soon as possible, because once the leaves begin to grow it will be tough to see what needs doing.
Prune all roses and tender plants, evergreens, herbs and hollow-stemmed shrubs, and don’t forget to deadhead earlier flowering bulbs to improve their display next year.
2. Sort that lawn out
Cut your grass with the blade set really high – this will remove tussock-forming grasses before they get stronger. Then the next time you cut it you can lower it a tad, and so on. Make sure you cut the grass at least every fortnight and collect the clippings to scatter around fruit trees, bushes, roses and shrubs as feed.
3. Weeds away!
Weeds start germinating quickly, so hoe early and hoe often, but don’t forget to hand-weed the whole garden fortnightly. Got lots of stinging nettles? Chuck some gloves on and nip off their new tips, then fry them with bacon for a tasty treat.
4. Put out ‘slug pubs’
These are saucers of beer dotted between your plants at ground level. Slugs are attracted to the yeast, and will perish once in the saucers. It’s important to keep their numbers under control before they multiply, and this is a much more environmentally friendly option than slug pellets.
Be warned though: slug pubs can also kill useful insects such as ground beetles who love munching on slug eggs. Make sure these beetles have an escape route by leaving a twig or two extending from the saucer.
5. Order and buy
If you’ve run out of time to buy cheaper mail-order seeds, sets and spring plants, you can still get most of what you need at your local garden centre. Always buy more potting compost than you think you’ll need – that way you’ll end up potting up more generously.
6. Make your own super feed
Cut the first leaves of comfrey, borage and stinging nettles and turn them into a liquid feed to pep up your spring greens and plants in pots. Chop up a bucket of leaves, cover with water and leave for four weeks. Dilute this with 20 parts water and get sprinkling for happy plants.
7. Get your greenhouse going
The sun is warming up so keep an eye on your greenhouse and cold frame ventilation. This is the time to begin sowing, so make sure you bring your compost indoors to warm up before you begin.
If you sometimes struggle to see your seeds when sowing, try dusting them with talcum powder or flour to help them show up against the soil.
Catch Bob on Gardeners’ Question Time, BBC Radio 4 or visit bobflowerdew.com for more tips.
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