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Whatever else is happening or not happening in the world (don’t mention Brexit!) nothing will stop the arrival of Spring- praise be! This is a very exciting time of the year; buds are swelling and opening every day and the garden becomes a beautiful tapestry of colour, read on for our tips for the month…

Flowers & Shrubs

Top Tip:  Winter jobs to finish include cutting back last year’s perennials, finishing winter pruning and sowing half hardy annuals.

Top Tip:  When your daffodils or any other spring flowering bulbs have finished flowering don’t cut them back, just remove any developing seed heads, allow the leaves to die back naturally as this will allow the food reserves in the bulbs to build up once more.

Top Tip:  It’s the perfect time to mulch your beds, if you have been making your own compost, use that, if not we recommend farmyard manure which will feed the soil, retain moisture and suppress weeds. It is available in 50 ltr bags, 3 for £12

Top Tip:  Keep on top of the weeds! A few minutes spent weeding now will save hours later in the season. Most plants seem to be growing very slowly at this time of year but if you venture out you will see that already the weeds have started to grow, slice them off at ground level with a swoe or hoe to save work later in the year.

A Wolf Swoe head from the multi change system – brilliant!

Top Tip:  This month there’s quite a lot of pruning to be done, it’s worth investing in a good pair of secateurs, a favourite amongst the staff at Sunshine are the Felco no.8, they are a beautifully balanced pair of secateurs, very sharp and comfortable to use.


Now on to what you should be pruning this month, dogwoods, willows ,Cotinus, hardy Fuchsia and Buddleia should  all be cut back hard to the base to encourage new strong growth.

Top Tip:  Roses should also be pruned this month, aim to remove any weak or crossing branches. 

It is very hard to damage a plant by pruning so don’t worry, the worst thing you can do is reduce the number of flowers that are produced – not the worst problem to have!

Top Tip:  I’m sorry to mention it but I’m afraid not only do we enjoy this warmer weather but our slimy friends also enjoy it.  There’s probably no need to tell you what they look like. Their silvery trails will tell you where they came from – and where they went to after lunching on leaves of numerous garden plants, including young plants and seedlings, vegetables and hostas. But here are a few interesting, even amazing, facts that will give you some clues as to just what you're up against!

Up to 90% of the slugs in your garden will be hiding underground during the day. On average, 200 slugs live in a cubic metre/yard of soil. That means in an average sized garden there will be up to 15,000 slugs – and then there are the snails! They love mild and damp weather, but they will still be around and hungry when the temperature stays above 5C (41F) and even during the night in summer.

Slug pellets are the most common method of control, many people are worried about the toxicity of these, don’t worry we have slug pellets that contain a different chemical (ferric phosphate) that are safe to use with children and pets when used  as directed.

We also have slug traps (they die in a pool if beer, a good way to go if you’re a slug) and barrier methods with which you circle the plants with a substance which is usually a gravel or gel that the slugs do not like to cross, it’s harmless to the slugs and protects your plants but unfortunately is not as good as the death method!

Top Tip:  While we’re talking about nasties in the garden one of the nicest looking nasty is the lily beetle, it’s a beautiful red beetle about 7-10mm long, they attack lilies and fritillaries so if you see any of them, squash them and their black larvae.

Top Tip: Keep those beautiful Hellebores flowering and looking good  by removing old flowers and keeping leaves clear of the blooms.

Top Tip:  As plants begin to grow they are like us, they need feeding, there are lots of different fertilisers available which maybe a bit confusing but really it’s quite simple; most plants need a general fertiliser such as Miracle Gro continual release fertiliser which contains a special mix of nutrients giving beautiful, healthy plants with more blooms. Evenly balanced nutrients are ideal for flowers, fruit and vegetables - in fact everything in the garden.

It can also be used in the planting hole with new plants, as the slow release won't burn plant roots.  A special coating on the granules controls the release of plant food, so that it matches the plant’s needs. It only releases nutrients when conditions are right for plant growth and when the plants need them. This ensures that plants are not short of balanced nutrients for up to 6 months from just 1 application.

This release ensures steady, even growth – not uneven surges – which is far better for producing strong, sturdy, healthy plants that perform much better in the garden.  The release rate is controlled by soil temperature. The warmer it gets; the faster plants grow and more nutrients are released. This also ensures there is little risk of under- and overfeeding and wastage due to excessive leaching out of the soil or compost – something that can be common with un-coated solid feeds, especially in very wet or waterlogged conditions.

There are 3 types of controlled release fertiliser, one for general use, one for roses + shrubs and one for ericaceous plants such as rhododendrons, camellias and heathers.

Have you seen Fiona?

Fiona runs our award winning bulb department and March is a really busy month for bulbs, come and have a chat with her to find which bulbs world wok best in your garden. Maybe try something a bit more unusual this year  - a Voodoo lily?

Lawns


Top Tip: If your lawn has started to grow give it a trim with the blades on the high setting. 

Top Tip: You can start to feed the lawn now, if you have weed and moss use Evergreen Complete 4 in 1, it feeds the grass, kills moss and weeds all in one easy to use dispenser.

Grow Your Own

Top Tip: While most varieties of potato are planted in April, earlies, such as ‘Rocket’, should be put in during March

If you’re planning to grow them in pots, use one that’s at least 25cm in diameter and half fill it with multi purpose compost. Bury the potato just below the compost surface. As shoots grow, cover with more compost until the pot is full. Cover the young plants with garden fleece if frosts are forecast. Make sure you water the pot regularly so the compost is moist but not wet.

If the leaves start to turn yellow in June, feed regularly with a tomato feed.

By late June or early July, your potatoes should be OK to harvest. Check they're ready by putting your hand into the pot and gently feeling for the tubers. If they feel big enough, tip out the contents of the pot, otherwise leave them to continue growing.


Top Tip:  Plant shallots, onion sets and early potatoes for a delicious home grown harvest later this year. This year try some shallots, they’re always more  expensive than onions in the shops but just as easy to grow as onions.

What’s the difference between onions and shallots?

Shallots have a milder taste and odour than onions, so shallots are more commonly eaten raw. However, when cooked, shallots can lose their flavour quickly, and so onions are preferable in cooked food like stir fries. Onions are also crunchier than shallots. 

Onions and shallots are both bulb vegetables in the same plant family that originated from central Asia. They are both used as ingredients to flavour dishes and can be eaten on their own.

Top Tip:  Buy young herbs in pots and plant near the back door for easy access when needed in the kitchen. We always recommend that you buy your herbs from us rather than the supermarket (well, we would wouldn’t we) but ours are genuinely better because they are grown ‘hard’ so that they can be grown outdoors and that are planted in a good quality compost that has enough food for several weeks healthy growth.

Top Tip:  Sow tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers and aubergines indoors or in a greenhouse. 

Top Tip:  Keep the vegetable beds weed free now to avoid extra work later when the weeds really take hold.

Top Tip:   Mulch rhubarb with a thick layer of farmyard manure and dream of rhubarb crumble later in the year.

Top Tip:  Keep the vegetable beds weed free now to avoid extra work later when the weeds really take hold.

Top Tip:   Mulch rhubarb with a thick layer of farmyard manure and dream of rhubarb crumble later in the year.

Top Tip:  Plant fruit trees such as apples, pears and cherry trees now, we have family fruit trees for those with limited space which have three varieties of apple all on one tree.

Top Tip:  We like to encourage environmentally friendly and sustainable gardening. We have a wide range of organic and environmentally friendly products from moth traps to prevent box tree caterpillar moth devastation to seaweed based fertilisers to give you chemical free produce, come and talk to Joe for further advice.