Seasonal Gardening Tips

April: 

Plant trees, shrubs and fruit trees now so that their roots will be ready to grow when the ground begins to warm up, and provide them with a slow release fertiliser. Although hardy through most of the winter, top fruit and soft fruit blossoms will need protecting from late frost. Cover them during the night with horticultural fleece, using canes to keep the material from touching the blossoms and make sure to remove during the day, so as not to hinder pollinators. Take care of your fruit plants now and you’ll reap the benefits of jam making ingredients through the summer – prices start at £1.99 for strawberries, though to £7 for a bush.

Now that they have finished flowering, shrubs such as Camellia and Forsythia can be lifted and moved provided the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. Divide clump forming perennials, such as Hostas and Primulas and remove any dead foliage, ready for new growth. Winter flowering heathers can also be cut back to a compact shape – however, if your heather is looking woody and leggy, replacing it would be a better option as they will struggle to look their best again (they generally have a lifespan of about 10 years).

 

Tie in new stems on climbers and climbing roses horizontally – this will allow for more like to reach the plant so multiple new flowering shoots to grow. Check for old and woody canes that produced little last year and cut them off.

 

Don’t forget housekeeping such as cleaning your greenhouses and growing frames ready for the growing season. If you’re limited in the garden, the Gardman Perma-tunnel with PVC cover is compact with no extra space required.

– Stew, Planteria & Nursery, Plantsplus Garden Centre

 March: 

Seeds always make me excited. Looking at the array of colourful packets, all with hidden promise, I find it hard not to get too carried away. The great thing about growing your own is that you can choose what you want to try, instead of relying on the supermarket varieties. It gives you a chance to get adventurous both with vegetables and flowers. You are in charge.

 

When growing seeds the golden rule is to read the packet. This will give you the information you need such as germination time, distance apart and when you can grow outdoors, but remember we are in Scotland! Seeds require four things to germinate, temperature, water, oxygen and some require light. Generally, seeds need at least 12 degrees to germinate. All seeds have their optimum temperature range and it’s useful to know. To generate more heat, there are things we can do such as using a propagator or seed tray inside on a windowsill or greenhouse. A cloche can help outside, but it is the soil temperature that you need to check. Just remember that seeds require air circulation to help prevent dampening off and once germinated turn the seed tray or pot daily to prevent the seedlings growing lopsided.

 

A fine seed and cutting compost is best to use and always label your pot or tray before you sow. Water from underneath with a tray. This helps prevent washing your seeds to one area and when germinated reduces dampening off. Never leave your seed trays in water. Let them drain to stop them becoming waterlogged.

 

Easy vegetables to grow are peas and beans and for flowers, sunflowers and poppies. You can grow in pots. Be aware of the depth of soil they will provide or choose a variety to suit. Royal Chantenay 3 is a type of carrot with a smaller root size, ideal for a child to pull out easily, wash and eat. My favourite pots this year belong to the Elho Green Basics range, created using recycled plastic. Nice and deep, raised or for the ground, they have a cloche style top to get you going early.

 

Sow now, there is no excuse!

 

– Jayne Greig, Planteria Manager, Dunbar Garden Centre