Bud, Bud Glorious Bud(s)

I’m not sure about taking the song any further though, as Spring and seeing signs of life far from cools the blood as Mud does!

Doesn’t it fill you with hope and enthusiasm to see everything coming back to life again. It is a wonderful if frustrating time to be a gardener. Our weather at this time of year generally leads to ‘Full Wardrobe Days’ You start off in a wooly hat and coat and then by 11 o’clock you are down to a t shirt and then by 3 o’clock back on come the layers. There is also much work to be done what follows is a selection of my jobs this week.

For-Get-Me-Nots, can either be a lovely addition to a border, complimenting early flowering perennials or an invasive weed providing cover for slugs and snails and swamping prized plants.

If you enjoy seeing a few For-Get-Me-Nots in your borders now is the time to check and see how many self sets there are growing this year and thin them out where they are growing too close to or in the middle of your emerging perennials.

Pruning Hydrangea’s back to a good healthy bud, instantly makes the garden feel like it has thrown the shackles of winter off and is hurtling towards spring. Take our any dead wood and crowded stems at the same time. Keeping Hyrdangeas well watered at this time of year is what helps them set their flowers for later in the summer so watch out if we have a particularly dry spell. (Fully expecting 3 weeks of rain now I have said that!)

The salad leaves starting to emerge in the greenhouse..

Sowing seeds and germination, Seed sowing has begun in earnest, Courgettes, Tomato, Chilli, Leaves, Beetroot and Broccoli have all been sown although patience pays off too, so waiting a while before sowing things like Squash, Sweetcorn and Beans (except Broad) is wise as it will be a long time yet before we are frost free and can safely plant them out. A word of warning too, make sure you label your seed trays. No matter how good I am a recognising the difference between Betroot and a Courgette seedling I am growing 6 different sorts of courgettes and even if you think you will remember which pot is where on the bench by the time you are ready to plant them out you will have no idea which ones are which until they fruit. Take five minutes and run back in the house for the pen. it will be worth it.

Feeding the garden, is so often overlooked but now is the time the garden is really hungry. A very high percentage of the Nitrogen levels in the soil are washed away during the winter, so now at the very time when plants are trying to put on leafy growth, the soil needs a helping hand. If you have fully rotted down compost ready get spreading it on the borders, if not grab one of the readily available buckets of Growmore, Fish, Blood and Bone or Chicken manure pellets (not recommended in gardens that have dogs as they can leap into the border and dig everything up in search of the source of the smell.) and sprinkle handfuls on the borders. If using growmore be careful not to leave any granules on the leaves of plants as they can scorch new leaves but sprinkle on the soil are the plants and all will be well. Roses also benefit from a good mulch with either well rotted garden compost or horse manure. For those who want an easier option, anything in granular form that has a high potash feed will boost their flowering potential.

Back of a bottle of Levingtons Tomorite.

There is a dazzling array of plant food available these days. If you are struggling to work out which to use here is a clue which might help. Most feeds have an NPK ratio on the packaging somewhere. This tells you the ratio between the Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. A High Nitrogen(N) content, like Miracle Grow, will boost the plants ability to make leafy growth but will not help root establishment or Flowering as much. Phosphorus (p), is important for helping root growth, so something with a strong P ratio is handy to add to the ground at the time of planting something new, also for vegetables where it is the root that you eat. This leaves us with Potassium,(K) often referred to as Potash, This is the chemical which most stimulates the production of flowers.

So, before you feed everything with exactly the same feed, think of the simple rule, what is it I want from this plant? Flowers or Fruit, Leaves or Root Establishment. Above all else remember plants are hungry. They live in the same soil for many years, needing the same nutrients.If they are not replenished, the plant will not be able to perform at its best for you. Don’t wait until the leaves turn yellow and they are begging like a certain loveable orphan!

And finally, look what I spotted yesterday. With that, and the thought that “It is a truth universally acknowledged that….” As the Magnolia and Camellia come out into flower, Ice and Snow are bound to show their faces again. I will leave you to your Happy Days in the Garden x

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