The Easter holidays mark the arrival of spring and with it the official start of the gardening season. I saw this sign when I was out walking on Easter Sunday and it prompted me to come home and make a list of all the jobs that now need done in the allotment and the garden – I hope it helps you like it helped me!
Plant chitted potatoes in grow bags (but not in the ground, yet!)
Seed potatoes have been available to buy for a month or so, but before planting put your potatoes in an old egg box or plant tray in a windowsill to chit. Position potatoes with ‘eyes’ at the top. Leave your tray of spuds in good light; when they are displaying shoots of 2cm they are ready for planting. If you have some ready now, plant them in grow bags where you can ensure soil temperature is warm. Don’t plant them in the ground for another few weeks as it’s still a bit too chilly for them!
Cut the lawn
If you haven’t made your ‘maiden’ cut of 2016 yet, do it now, but be sure to raise the height of the blades on your mower. Apply a spring feed – ideally just before an April shower.
Plant summer bulbs
Gladiolis, lilies, tigridias – plant them now if you want beautiful flowers for cutting this summer. Ideal in pots and borders.
Sow hardy annuals
Sow hardy annuals direct into a sunny spot. Sprinkle the seed over the soil, lightly cover with earth using a rake, water and wait. Once seeds have germinated, thin them out. Try love-in-the-mist (Nigella damascene), cornflowers and Californian poppies.
Ventilate the greenhouse
Ventilating growing spaces on frost-free days encourages pests to disappear and helps to ensure healthy plants. You can also start to harden plants off by moving them out to the garden for the day and returning them at night. Just don’t forget about them!
Pot on outdoor plants
Now is the time to remove potted plants, such as agapanthus, from the pots they’ve been in all winter and replace the old compost with a fresh mix of compost and feed.
Tidy trees and shrubs
Once mature trees and shrubs start to steal light from plants below, it’s time to reshape or resize them. Take this opportunity to remove lower limbs and any dead, damaged or diseased stems and branches. Wait until winter though to prune Japanese acers – at this time of year they have a tendency to bleed sap.
Choose a sunny, well-drained spot and plant cloves with the pointy end up. Your garlic will be adding kick to your cooking by mid-July.
Not all hardy perennials are suitable for division but most are, such as hostas, hemerocallis and bergenias. By dividing plants that are more than three years old you will increase their vigour. Lift plants carefully and shake off soil. Either pull plants apart or, for the more stubborn, use two garden forks back to back. Replant the parent plant immediately.
Tasty rhubarb treats
Rhubarb season is nearly here. If you’ve forced a plant by covering it with a black dustbin (like I have in the allotment) plants should be displaying red, sweeter stems very soon.
Don’t forget the houseplants
Houseplants often put on a great deal of growth early in the year as light levels increase. Capitalise on this by potting them up now into (only slightly) larger pots. Just an inch or so of fresh compost all the way around the old rootball prevents growth from being checked, and will encourage glossy and healthy new foliage.