Gardening can be extremely therapeutic, and it is also an excellent form of exercise. So as the dull, damp days of winter disappear and the first green shoots of spring peep through the soil, it is an ideal time to put on the wellies and start to prepare our gardens for the year ahead.
There are always many jobs to be tackled, so we have included some seasonal information and also addressed some of the questions most frequently asked at this time of year.
HOW DO I CONTROL MOSS IN MY LAWN?
Firstly, prevention is better than cure. Moss in lawns is usually the sign of poor growing conditions such as low fertility, compaction, poor drainage and excessive shade. For immediate moss control use a proprietary product such as lawn sand or a liquid formulation containing ferrous sulphate. When the moss is completely dead remove by scarifying. Control with moss killers will only be a temporary solution unless you remove the causes. Aerate the lawn and top dress to relieve compaction and improve drainage. When the weather turns mild and the grass begins growing, start feeding to increase vigour and avoid mowing too close.
SHOULD I BE PRUNING NOW?
WHAT ABOUT MY CLEMATIS?
As a general rule early spring is the time to prune shrubs that flowered late last year and those that have just finished flowering. Most late flowering shrubs that flower on young shootsproduced in the same year including Caryopteris, Buddleja, Perovskia, Lavetera, Leycesteria and Santolina should be cut back to two buds from their base. Avoid pruning young plants too hard. Shrubs that flower in early spring such as forsythia and flowering currant (Ribes) require pruning immediately after flowering by removing a third of the oldest stems to ground level and trimming the remainder.
Shrubs that are grown for their colour stems such as Cornus and Salix can be cut back hard before bud break.
Clematis flowering times vary and their pruning requirements differ. For pruning purposes clematis are divided into three groups. Group 1: flower in spring on stems that grew the previous year, so any pruning removes potential flowers and should only be pruned to thin out when necessary. Group 2: includes all the large flowered hybrids that flower in early summer on side shoots from the previous years stems. Prune these lightly in late winter to strong growth and buds leaving a healthy framework. Group 3: The mid to late summer flowering clematis are the easiest as you simply cut everything back to the lowest pair of buds in late winter-early spring.
CAN I GROW VEGETABLES IN MY SMALL GARDEN AND WHICH ONES?
The novice vegetable grower can begin with crops that can be directly sown into the ground. If space is limited, use short-term root crops of beetroot, carrots, early potatoes and turnips, allowing at least two crops a year. Salad crops of lettuce, radish and salad onion can be sown in succession and intercropped to save room. Alternatively all these can all be grown in suitable containers. Most leafy salad crops can be grown as cut-and-come again and are ideal for the smallest of gardens, containers or grow bags. The soil temperature for early potatoes should have reached at least 6oC for a week before planting and 10oC for salad crops.