Topical Tips March 2020
Spring really does arrive this month, the days are longer and warmer, the risk of frost should have passed by the end of the month. Brace yourselves for an exciting month in the garden…
Flowers & Shrubs
Top Tip: Finish off cutting back old growth on perennials and grasses.
Top Tip: Lift and divide summer flowering perennials, you can tell which ones you need to attend to by the large clumps that are pushing outwards from the ground with fresh young shoots at the edge of the clump
Top Tip: When daffodils and 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. Its available in 50 ltr bags, 3 for £12
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.
Top Tip: Prune shrub roses - remove all dead and crossing wood on your rose bushes and cut the rest back by at least a half, aiming to cut just above an outward-facing bud.
Top Tip: Later in the month, clip box topiary and hedging in to shape if it looks unlikely that we’ll be having any hard frosts, at least in the South, so the danger of scorching new growth will hopefully have passed.
Top Tip: Prune young hedges – cut one or two-year-old hedges back by a third. This might feel brutal when you’re desperate for new growth but will make a better hedge – thick and strong, even at the base, rather than one that is left tall and gangly with gaps at ground level.
Top Tip: Continue to deadhead hydrangeas before new growth appears. Cut to about one third of last season's growth.
Top Tip: Prune forsythia as soon as they have finished flowering, cutting back to strong, young shoots.
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: Pinch out tips of winter sweet peas to encourage sideshoots.
Top Tip: You must visit our bulb room, gladioli, lilies, freesias, dahlias etc are all available now, talk to Fiona and she’ll advise on what’s best for your garden.
Top Tip: Keep weeding, the easiest method is to just hoe weeds below the surface and just leave the leaves to wither and die.
Top Tip: Reactivate your compost heap – take advantage of any warmer, drier weather and turn the whole thing into a new bin and add a compost accelerator.
Top Tip: Beware the slugs and snails, now the weather is warming up.
Top Tip: 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 of 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 l not as good as the death method!
Top Tip: It’s a smart time to buy perennials as they have a couple of months to get themselves settled in and will flower this year also as smaller plants, they are particularly good value: £4.99 each.
Top Tip: When planting new shrubs and other plants use Rootgrow, which contains mycorrhizal fungi which naturally increase nutrient and water uptake by forming a highly efficient secondary root system. It is completely natural and plant-friendly fungi suitable for use on flowering plants, trees, shrubs and edibles. It’s recommended by Monty!
Top Tip: We had an incredible amount of rain over the winter so I would imagine everyone’s lawn is very green and full of moss. To get it back into shape use Evergreen Complete 4 in 1, it feeds the grass, kills moss and weeds all in one easy to use dispenser.
Top Tip: Start cutting your lawn with the blades set on high.
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: 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 they are planted in a good quality compost that has enough food for several weeks healthy growth.
Top Tip: Sow salad leaves now; lettuce, rocket, coriander, parsley and chives.
Top Tip: If you’re quick you can still prune fruit trees ( apples and pears)
Top Tip: It’s your last chance to sow fruiting half-hardy vegetables, e.g. tomatoes.
Top Tip: Sow courgettes, leeks, peas, beetroot and cucumbers under cover.
Top Tip: Sow perennial veg seeds, eg globe artichokes.
Top Tip: Plant asparagus crowns.
Top Tip: Sow broad beans direct outside.
Top Tip: Cover soil with plastic to dry it out, then direct sow carrots, parsnips and radishes.