MID MARCH GARDENING TIPS
- Cut back overgrown honeysuckle stems close to their base, just above new shoots.
- Be on the look out for slugs and snails, which will attack emerging shoots of perennials.
- Plant Jerusalem artichokes in well-prepared soil.
- Grow early-maturing potatoes in a bag of compost.
- Fork compost into beds to prepare soil, for planting.
- Chit potatoes by standing them in trays in a warm bright position until they develop small shoots.
- Dig out problem weeds and emerging annual weeds.
- Plant Jerusalem artichokes.
- Cover rhubarb with forcing jars to encourage long, delicious pale stems.
- Sow seeds of the following crops outside or under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas, lettuce and Swiss chard
- In your greenhouse, you can sow summer bedding plants, such as petunias, geranium, verbena and busy Lizzie. In the vegetable world, you can sow seeds of cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines and peppers to raise summer crops
- Trim back old shoots of perennials left for winter interest, taking care not to damage emerging new growth
A Rosy outlook Now is the time to hit the garden armed in your toughest clothes and sharpened pruners for the annual task of cutting back the roses. While gardeners may share different insights on the art of rose pruning, one thing is certain: While roses’ winter dormancy persists, it’s time to prune, ensuring a prolific bloom and healthy plants in spring and summer. Pruning is regenerative. It stimulates new growth and can enhance and open up the form and shape of the plants, it also removes dying or diseased portions that can damage the overall health of a garden. Roses are sturdy and forgiving, and will be healthier plants because of it. While you may not prune perfectly every time, it’s always better to prune than not to prune. You can find a detailed, How to on our facebook page or find a leaflet in the garden centre.
Plant a tree week has come and gone, nearly the best kept secret, of the year. The horticultural industry and I include myself in this should really do more to promote the planting of trees, as we all know they are the lungs of this fragile earth we live on. They provide us with food, shelter and of course their beauty. From the majestic redwoods to the humble spindle tree, no garden should be without a tree. Space shouldn’t be an issue as there are even dwarf varieties that are quite happy in a large pot on a balcony or patio. When choosing a tree there are a number of questions you should consider. The first and most important, what eventual height you would like your tree? This is very important as large trees should not be planted too near buildings. When you look at trees in the garden centre most of them appear to be the same size this can be deceptive because, with age, there is a vast difference. One such tree is the majestic oak which takes hundreds of years to mature and is fantastic given enough space. Oak is quite easy to grow and is even tolerant of damp heavy soil. There are a number of varieties well worth seeking out, Quercus coccinea (Scarlet Oak) has fiery red leaves in autumn, as the common names suggests, and Quercus ilex the evergreen oak is one of the few broad-leaved evergreens that can successfully grow in Ireland. For the smaller garden, there is a vast choice, my top choice, however, are Magnolias and Malus. Both will give you flowers in spring and splendid autumn colour and in the case of the Malus family many produce fruit which, persist into the winter. For flower, foliage, interesting bark or just somewhere to sit under on a hot summer’s day, plant a tree.