“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”
– Doug Larson
It might not feel like it just yet, but spring has arrived and life in our gardens is a-stirring. With the record breaking temperatures that we experienced last month, it’s hard to believe that 12 months ago we were in the grip of the Beast from the East and many of our gardens were underneath a blanket of snow. The days are lengthening and the sun strengthening, drying out and warming up the soil ready for planting. Do take advantage of good weather but don’t get carried away. March has still got plenty of frost up her sleeve and might even throw snow to some parts of the country.
The latest Suttons catalogue offers a wide range from half price bumper bedding collections to perennials, summer bulbs, grafted and non-grafted veg plants, potatoes, onions and more. Do let us know if your Spring Planner 2019 catalogue hasn’t arrived and we’ll rush one to you.
If the weather allows you to do nothing else this month try and complete the following gardening jobs:
- Long awaited daffodils will be fading now so strengthen the bulbs for next year by snapping off the deadheads. Don’t be tempted to remove the leaves, untidy as they may look they really do need to be left to die down naturally if you want a good display next year.
- As spring bulbs come to an end now is the time to plant summer flowering ones, including lilies, anemones, dahlias, begonias and gladioli. Wait until the soil begins to warm and choose a sunny spot in free-draining soil. Summer bulbs will also do well grown in pots. Remember to plant at 2 to 3 times the depth of the bulb.
- Sow tomato seed this month and you’ll be picking the fruits by the end of June.
- Time spent weeding now will prevent them from spreading later as the ever-strengthening sun encourages growth. It will also help to aerate the soil.
- Cut down any perennials left from last year so that new growth can form. Now is the time to put supports in place for the plants to grow up and through.
- Sow, sow, sow! March is prime seed sowing time so make sure you’ve got the seeds you want, plenty of seed trays and compost and then get started. Hardy annuals can be sown direct where you want them to flower. See below for advice from our own horti expert, Christine Loader.
- Lawn mowing starts this month, depending on the weather! Set the blades nice and high and remember to skirt round any clumps of bulbs. Neatening the edges of the lawn will give the garden an instant lift.
- The deadheads on hydrangeas will have provided the plant with winter protection but can now be removed. Using sharp secateurs, cut the stem back to the first strong, healthy pair of buds down from the dead flower.
- Plants growing in containers will need regular watering from this month onwards with some needing repotting. If the plant is too large to repot simply carefully remove some of the top compost and replace with fresh.
- Garden birds continue to need your help so please keep feeders clean and well stocked and remember to also supply fresh water.
Apologies for mentioning the B word but it is a subject hard to avoid. Much has been said about possible food shortages, with the biggest potential issue being fresh produce such as fruit and veg. But would the loss of tasteless Spanish strawberries and watery tomatoes really be such a problem? It really is so easy and so much better, to have a go at growing your own.
If you don’t think you have the ground space to grow your own food, then look up. Cherry tomatoes are perfect for growing in hanging baskets and both runner and French beans will grace an arch or doorway, producing attractive flowers that will in turn produce tasty beans. Herbs can be grown in pots on a window ledge and peashoots, salad leaves and radishes will all be happy growing in old biscuit or Quality Street tins, just punch a few holes in the base first.
If the talk of food shortage turns out to be scaremongering, then you will have lost nothing by growing your own. Instead you will have the satisfaction of eating homegrown food with zero food miles.
Successful Seed Sowing with Christine Loader
Hi, I am Suttons Horticultural and Technical Advisor. I have been an avid gardener all my life and have a passion for growing Fruit and Vegetables. When I am not in my greenhouse I can usually be found on my allotment. Gardening has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I look forward to sharing my expertise with you in our newsletter. This month I will be providing hints and tips on how to achieve the best results with your Suttons seeds.
The requirements are quite simple – a well prepared seed compost, correct sowing depth, adequate moisture and correct temperatures.
Always use a quality and fresh seed compost and sieve it prior to use. All lumps and wooden material must be removed so that you end up with a very fine compost. Multipurpose Compost is best avoided as it could contain too much fertiliser. Use clean seed trays or pots and gently firm the compost in, a wooden damper is the perfect implement and makes a flat surface to sow on. Use a fine spray and mist the compost until it is evenly moist but not saturated.
Check the seed packet for the recommended sowing depth and follow this precisely. Tiny seeds such as Begonia and Petunia require light to germinate and must not be covered at all. Small seeds only need a light covering and larger seeds can be planted deeper. Use sieved soil or even better Vermiculite to cover the seed as this retains moisture for much longer.
Check the seed packet for the germination temperature that is required for each seed to be sown. Early in the year greenhouses and windowsills are often much colder than you would imagine and subject to high temperature fluctuations. While seeds of hardy plants are less affected by fluctuating temperatures, half hardy annuals such as tomatoes, chillies and cucumbers require constantly high temperature.
For these seeds I would recommend using a thermostatically controlled propagator in a warm room or sowing them later in the spring in a hot greenhouse. An airing cupboard or boiler room is also a good place for germination. As soon as the seedlings come through, I move them to a cooler place in a bright position to avoid them getting leggy.
Adequate moisture is a vital factor, too much water and the seedlings and roots could rot quickly, not enough and the seed will not swell and cannot germinate either.
Some seeds will germinate in a matter of days some can take months. Some seeds will need to go through a ‘chill’ period and need to go into the fridge prior to sowing. Sweet Pea seeds benefit from soaking or ‘chipping’ as they have very hard seed coats. Seed packets will have all the necessary instructions but if you are not sure than there is always the internet.
Wishing you the best of success with your Suttons seeds.
Plant of the Month
Compared to last year, the weather recently has really felt that the arrival of Spring is right around the corner. Flowering now, the three beautiful fresh and trendy colours that make up this Primula Candy collection will welcome in the Spring and are ideal for beds and borders, patio pots and containers, hanging baskets.