- Pick off hellebore leaves with black blotches as this is a symptom of leaf spot disease.
- Lift and divide congested snowdrops when in leaf, also known as 'in the green'.
- Prepare plant supports ready to pop into position to support tall or floppy perennials, such as delphiniums. When planting freesia bulbs it’s also handy to pop supports in at the time of planting..
- Feel like a challenge now is the time to prepare areas for planting asparagus.
- Cut down willows and dogwoods to their base to promote strong new canes and cover with a compost mulch.
- Plant new fruit trees, canes and bushes.
- Use cloches to warm soil for early sowings, if you have a greenhouse you can raise lettuce and salad crops in pots for early pickings.
- Now is time to prune grapevines before they come into growth when their sap starts rising.
- If the rain and murky skies are keeping you indoors, you can still get your hands dirty Start sowing seed of summer bedding and crops that need a long growing season to mature, such as pelargonium, petunia, verbena, salvia, lobelia and begonia. You can now get windowsill propagators that won’t take up the entire back kitchen.
- Start Chitting your Potatoes. To get the best value and results from your potatoes it’s time to get started. If you want the early new potatoes then choose First Earlies and start to prepare them now. It’s too cold to plant them out, but you can give them a head start and chit them in a light frost-free place. It just means that they are allowed to sprout and start growing, so that when it’s warm enough to plant them they have already developed strong healthy growing shoots
Getting your garden into shape Problem solving:
Canker. Left unchecked, canker can gradually spread to affect whole branches and sections of trees. Severely-infected old trees may be beyond rescue, while young trees are vulnerable to infection, particularly where other susceptible trees are growing in close proximity. Where trees are suffering stress as a result of drought or waterlogging, they may be more liable to infection. Canker may also infect fruit, so they rot on the tree before harvesting or when in store. If your trees have suffered this in the past and you're considering replacing them, choose canker-resistant varieties such as the apples 'Grenadier', 'Laxton's Superb' and 'Newton Wonder', and the pear 'Concorde'. The signs of canker are Leafless shoots, or twigs with sparse, small foliage. Also, bark that's sunken and distorted, or swollen and cracked. Use secateurs to cut out all infected growth. Infected branches show dark staining of the creamy coloured wood inside, so prune back to healthy wood that shows no sign of staining. Carefully slice away cankers on large branches and trunks using a sharp knife. Afterwards, sterilise your knife and secateurs with methylated spirits to avoid cross-contamination. Where canker is a problem, choose resistant Bordeaux mixture can also be applied after fruit harvest and during leaf fall. If you are in doubt of the diagnosis, bring a branch out to me and ill try and give you the prognosis.
Flower of the month: Heather's
Bring life to your garden with all year round colour and low maintenance, with our busy lives, many of us don’t have the time to spend evenings and weekends looking after our gardens. The beauty of Heather's is that once planted you can sit back and enjoy the benefits of your work, with little aftercare, giving you more pleasure every year.