Are you ready for spring?
Sharpen and oil your tools.
Prepare your seed trays.
Order your seeds.
Prepare your beds and plan where you are going to plant.
Now is the time to winter prune your apples and pears. Cut out all diseased branches, crossing branches and thin shoots. Cut the other branches back to a spur, which will develop into a fruiting bud. Make sure this is done as soon as possible while the tree is dormant. Examine stored dahlias and lilies and remove any that are rotting. Look forward to sowing your seeds very soon. Spring is not far away. Enjoy the beauty of the snowdrops,which are beginning to flower and soon the narcissus will follow.
Use your garden pruning to make a Christmas wreath. Wind your willow,cornus or hazel into a ring. Add ivy,summer jasmine, bay or conifer foliage to cover the ring. Add the highlights, in this case s quince fruits,any red berries , honesty and pine cones. Finish off with large leaves such as acuba and a bow. Happy Christmas everyone.
Plants for free!
Now is the time to lift 3 or 4 year old perennials while the soil is still warm. Split the lifted plants into two or three pieces disgarding the dead centres and replant .Hard wood cuttings of red and black currants can be taken,the bottom leaves removed and the stems pushed into the ground leaving about 6 inches above ground. They will root over the winter and be ready for replanting next autumn.
Make good use of your pumpkins. Cut now and scoop out the flesh (it makes lovely soup ). The seeds can be roasted and used as a snack or in cooking. The shell can be used as a vase and when the flowers have gone to the compost heap it can be carved ready for Halloween. What a bargain a pumpkin is!
Got a glut of courgettes? Why not make some courgette cake (many recipes available here),it freezes well for up to a month. There is also marrow cream which is a preserve similarities to lemon curd and will keep for up to one year unopened, or courgette soup which can be frozen for the colder months
At last we have been able to meet as a group and managed to review our procedures and plan for the coming months. It was great to catch up with the team and we had much to discuss sitting in the sunshine. We have decided to stay closed to visitors until the spring, giving us time to catch up on some badly needed work. As some of us have found it difficult working on our own or in pairs we are going to work in two groups until further notice,supporting each other whilst remaining socially distant. There are some jobs that one can't do on your own. Jobs to be getting on with are hedge cutting, preparing cleared beds ready for replanting, bulb planting, harvesting and collecting seed on dry days. The winter onions and garlic will be in the shops shortly so let's be ready to plant them.
Now is the time to take cuttings of half hardy perennials. Cuttings of early flowering shrubs can be taken the same way. Water the pots,label them and cover with a plastic bag,sealing with an elastic band. In a few weeks the cuttings should have rooted and new roots be visible through the bottom of the pot or new growth on the shoot. Pot up separately and keep overwinter in a sheltered spot for planting in the spring.
Have you done the 'Chelsea chop'? Now is the time to extend your flowering season by reducing the height of the growing stems of your herbaceous perennials by cutting them down by 1/3 on about 1/3 of the plant. New shoots will grow and flower later. This is done around about the time of the Chelsea flower show hence the' Chelsea chop'.
End of Spring
It's great to see that our crops are growing but beware of frosts. Don't put your tender plants out yet. It is a good time to be taking photos of your garden before the spring display is finished. You then have a record and can see where you want to make changes for next spring. Take photos in each season then you will have a years record. In the meantime keep preparing your beds and sowing seeds of squash,courgettes and pumpkins as well as brassica. Keep safe.
Spring - summer
Prune roses and buddlehia. Sow half hardy annuals in trays in warmth and gradually harden the off to plant out when danger of frost is done. Broad beans and parsnips can be sown when the soil is crumbly.
Onions bulbs and shallots can be planted directly into the soil.
Keep sowing little and often to extend your season.
Are you prepared?
Tools clean and sharpened. Seed trays prepared and seeds ordered. Greenhouse clean and insulated.
Buy seed potatoes and lay them out to chit. Buy onion sets. Sow small quantities of Brussels sprout, leeks and tomato seed in heat from late January.
Prepare outside beds in dry conditions, cover with cloches or environmesh to warm up.
Do a little at a time to prevent strains and injury.
Finish winter digging when the weather permits.
Sow 'aqua dulcet broad beans. Plant garlic and winter onions.
Clean tools by rubbing with steel wool, sharpen them and oil them before putting them away.
Clean greenhouse glass and line with bubble wrap.
Keep harvesting your crops and clearing beds. Winter onions available now to set in cleared beds.
Daffodils and narcissus should be available for planting in tubs and borders now. Leave tulips until November.
Take cuttings of tender herbaceous perennials to overwinter indoors.
Divide and replant hardy herbaceous perennials whilst the soil is still warm.
There's still time to sow mixed lettuce, beetroot,spinach and chard, to give you a crop before the frost comes. Seed left over from previous sowings can be sown on the surface of a pot and covered with grit,watered and the seedlings germinated used as salad greens in a few weeks.
Cut the foliage and runners off summer-fruiting strawberry plants and new growth will soon appear.
Hedges can be cut now the young birds have fledged.
Prepare cleared beds for planting winter onion sets, available in early September, by hoeing off weeds and raking.
Keep harvesting crops as they mature and sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labours.
We have had a great open day despite the cold wet weather, selling most of our annuals and having a good chat in the greenhouse.
June was busy in general with us using our remaining annuals in planters and beds as well as caring of the growing crops.
Jobs For The Summer
Continue to feed and water plants,
Weed and deed-head as appropriate,
Harvest plants as they mature,
Sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labour!
To lift, divide and replant snowdrops. They will establish much better if done now.
To prune buddleja. It flowers on this years growth.
If you want to sow your seeds but can't tell flowers from the weeds. Help us with trowel, rake and how and we will show you how to grow cabbages, leeks and flowers. All of them washed by April showers.