Patrick’s Gardening Tips

January

Seed potato display 2014There’s always something to be doing in the garden, whether it’s pruning, tidying or sowing, so we’ve put together our top gardening tasks for January.

Prune your Wisteria plant now, cutting back summer side-shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
Prune rose bushes now whilst they are dormant. Cut back to just above a bud and remove any crossing or dead branches. You can plant bare root roses now in a sunny position for spectacular summer colour.

Start chitting (sprouting) early potatoes – stand them on end in a module tray or egg box and place in a bright cool frost-free place. You can start growing potatoes in containers under cover for a very early crop (Charlotte potatoes are a good variety for this). Potato Patio Planters are ideal for growing early potatoes in small spaces.

If you’d like to grow early peas, place a cloche over the soil to let it warm up for a few weeks prior to sowing.

Begin pruning your apple trees and pear trees if you haven’t done so already – this is best done whilst they are dormant. Leave plums, cherries and apricots unpruned until the summer as pruning these fruit trees now will make them susceptible to silver leaf infections.

From the comfort of your armchair it is time to plan what seeds you want to sow and plan your vegetable plot for this year to ensure good crop rotation and prevent pests and diseases building up in the soil.

February

Start sowing vegetable seeds such as leeks, onions and celeriac under cover now.  Broad beans can be sown 5-7.75cm deep, directly in the garden or in pots of multipurpose potting compost.

If you have a heated propagator you can begin sowing tomatoes towards the end of the month.  If not, there is still plenty of time to sow under cover including Brussels sprouts and shallots.

Prepare vegetable seed beds by removing all weeds and forking in plenty of compost. Cover prepared soil with sheets of black plastic to keep it drier and warmer in preparation for spring planting.

If you garden on heavy clay soil but want to make an early start in the garden, build raised beds before the growing season gets under way. The soil will warm up faster and raised beds drain quickly too.

Plant Lilies and Allium bulbs. Plant fragrant winter flowering shrubs to add interest to borders.

Try Daphne, Viburnum x bodnantense, Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) and Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox).

Prune Winter Flowering Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) after flowering to encourage new growth for next year’s blooms. Cut back the previous years growth to 5cm from the old wood.

Prune wisteria and campis by cutting back the sideshoots around 2.5-5cm to two or three buds.

Cut back late summer and autumn flowering clematis to 30cm from ground level.

Autumn fruiting raspberries can be pruned, cutting down all the stems to ground level.

Pots of crocus and primrose will help provide food for bumblebees roused early from hibernation.

March

Protect your garden now from early slug damage with Growing Success slug pellets.

Sow beetroot, lettuces, spinach, chard and brassicas into plugs or peat pots under protection for planting out later.

Start off your cutting garden now buy sowing Sweet Peas, Cosmos, Cornflowers and Tobacco plants into plugs and small pots for planting out after the danger of frost has passed.

Ensure you have fleece on hand to protect seedlings and tender new growth from frost damage
Pinch out the growing tips of winter sown Sweet Peas.

Plant Dahlia tubers in pots under cover, protecting new growth from frosts.

Cut down the old growth of perennials and grasses left over winter.

Prune shrub roses-remove all dead wood and crossing branches. Cut the rest back by at least a half, cutting just above an outward facing bud.

April

This is one of the busiest months in the garden and it can feel that everything is too much to cope with, but try to enjoy the colour and birdsong while you are working!

Plant out Sweet Peas and other young plants for the cutting garden plants that were sown earlier in spring.

Prune back early flowering shrubs like Forythia, Chaenomeles and winter flowering Jasmine by a third.  Prune shrubby herbs such as sage and thyme to ensure they stay compact.

Plant evergreen hedges such as Photinia, Laurel, Escallonia, Elaeagnus. Add some Rose, Tree and Shrub compost to the hole along with some Bonemeal or Growmore. Its dry ensure you water the plants in well.

Plant an alpine trough.  Use a planting mix of equal parts John Innes No. 2 compost and coarse grit and topdress with a 2cm (3/4″) layer of decorative grit or small stones.

Plant out potatoes Space the rows 75cm apart to allow for maximum yield. If any potatoes were planted in March, they need to be earthed up.

Late in the month begin sowing under glass crops such as runner beans, pumpkins and squashes to plant out after the last frost in May.

Top dress soft fruits with Manure, Strawberries would benefit from a feed of Sulphate of Potash to encourage more flowers.

Grass will really start to grow this month and therefore will need a lot of care. This includes regular mowing and feeding. April is also a good time to tackle moss in the lawn. Westland Aftercut all in one is a great product to kill off the moss.

Create a new lawn by sowing seed now. Ensure that all weeds are removed from the soil where you are going to sow. Choose from our range of Gro Sure seeds for wide range of situations.

Offer birds live or soaked mealworms instead of dried ones now the nesting season has arrived and avoid whole nuts and chunky feeds, which can choke fledglings.

May

Plant out Dahlia tubers and Gladioli for late summer flowers.

Sow hardy annuals like Cornflowers, Nigellas and Marigolds direct into beds.

Plant hanging baskets and pots on patios- if you are stuck with choosing the plants, choose an ‘Easy Basket’ or a ‘Garden Cocktail’ with pre-selected combinations.

Sow Basil directly into raised beds or the vegetable garden.

Prune perennial herbs such as chives, lovage, thyme and marjoram to encourage fresh growth.

Tomatoes, courgettes, squash and pumpkins may now be planted outside-water well after planting.

Continue sowing radishes, beetroots, carrots and peas for a continuous harvest throughout the summer.

Cover carrots from carrot root fly with fleece or enviromesh.

Prune back early flowering alpine plants such as Aubretia and Alyssum to encourage new growth and flowers.

Start tying in Sweet Peas every 10 days which will encourage more flowers on straight stems. Feed every other week with Miracle Gro.

Prune box hedges ensuring you remove clippings to reduce the risk of disease.

June tips

Thin out hardy annuals leaving 30cm between plants to allow them to develop fully. Provide pea sticks as support for Cornflowers and Ammi. Sow Wallflowers and honesty for flowering next spring.

Mulch borders with bark to reduce water evaporation.

Stake and tie up taller perennials such as Delphiniums and Peonies.

Divide Primulas, Primroses and Cowslips.

Chop Sedums back by 1/3rd to provide sturdy flowering plants in the autumn.

Deadhead Roses by pruning back to a bud or leaf below to encourage the formation of axillary buds.

Prune spring flowering shrubs like Weigela and Philadephus once they have finished flowering. Remove congested older stems.

Sow sprouts, cabbages and leeks for winter harvest.

Sow more courgettes to provide an autumn harvest.

Sow parsley and coriander to provide a crop in autumn and winter.

Thin Gooseberries allowing them to swell and ripen.

Plant Marigolds (Tagetes) to deter white fly in glasshouses. Use biological control to control white fly and Red Spider mite.

Increase shading in greenhouses and dampen down floors every morning. Avoid watering plants in the middle of the day.

July Tips

Continue to plant half-hardy annuals such as Cosmos, Nicotianas, Zinnias and Cleomes for autumn colour.

Prune English Lavender that has flowered in June. Remove stems leaving 2/3 pairs of leaves below the cut.

Early flowering Geraniums like ‘Sabani Blue’ and ‘Johnsons Blue’ can be cut back to the ground and fed with Chicken Pellets to encourage fresh growth.

Prune the long whippy shoots of Wisteria if your plant has filled its space.

Prune early flowering Clematis like montana.

Sow Kales like ‘Redbor’ and ‘Cavolo Nero’. Sow lettuce at the same time for intercropping so you don’t waste any space, If you prefer Radish and Beetroot they will do the same job!

Keep pinching out the side shoots of cordon varieties. Feed weekly with Tomorite and in hot weather water every morning to keep them moist. Feed peppers and cucumbers at the same time.

Sow late crop of French Beans for harvesting in October

Plant out leeks under fleece or enviromesh to avoid leek moth’s laying eggs.

Sow Chard to provide an autumn winter crop.

Lift and divide Rhubarb-discard the centres and replant the outer growth

Thin fruit trees bearing heavy crops to ensure you get quality fruit. For eating apples and pears thin to a fruit every 4-6”, cooking apples can be given even more space.

Prune plums to avoid silver leaf disease and canker.

Support Dahlias and Chrysanthemums with canes

Feed Roses with TopRose after their first flush of flowers.

August

Water in the morning and evening, trying to avoid wasting too much water on leaves. Using a soak hose ensures water is deposited next to the roots.

Cut back perennials that have finished flowering to help them recover from the drought.

 

Cut back Lavender leaving at least 2 pairs of leaves below the point you cut.

Prune trained fruit trees-why not join our ‘All about trained fruit’ course in Patrick’s Patch?

Sow winter lettuce, mustards and rocket for harvest in autumn and next spring.

Deadhead Buddleia to encourage more flowers into the autumn which will provide important food for butterflies.

September

Plant out wallflowers and tulips now for a wonderful combination of spring colour.

Divide and replant perennials to ease any congested areas.

Continue sowing hardy annuals for early flowering next year – Calendula, Centaurea, Papaver rhoeas, Papaver somniferum, and Scabious can all be direct sown now. Remember to keep them weed free as they germinate.

Have a go at forcing some prepared hyacinths or amaryllis now for colour over the festive season.

Plant a layered pot of bulbs, known as a “bulb lasagne”, for your doorstep, with the largest and latest flowering bulbs at the lowest level (with at least 6in of soil/compost below the bottom of the bulb) and early flowering, smaller bulbs on top. Excellent combinations are crocus above early tulips, or try an early grape hyacinth (Muscari azurea) on top, with a late tulip (‘White Triumphator’) below. Top-dress with grit to keep the pot looking good through winter. Click here to find out more about creating a bulb lasagne.

Deadhead dahlias. Cut all the spent flowers off to the buds below them. With a little TLC, they’ll keep flowering until the first hard frost. Pick a few pristine heads as you go and arrange in small glasses or bottles on the dining table.  Don’t forget to deadhead Penstemons and Roses too, it will encourage flowers in to the autumn.

Prune climbing and rambling roses.

Keep camellias and rhododendrons well watered through the autumn, whilst they are forming thier buds.

Divide evergreen agapanthus and move them into the greenhouse for winter.

Plant pot grown fruit and ornamental trees whilst the soil is still warm and moist.

Bean and pea plants that have finished their harvest can be cut back, leaving the roots to be dug in to the soil to provide extra nitrogen for future crops.

Continue to feed tomato plants until all the fruits have finished growing and ripening. If your tomatoes refuse to ripen in miserable weather, then you could make a delicious green tomato chutney.

Sow spring onions – these will be ready to eat before the frosts get going in most parts of the country.

Do a last outside sowing of radish. With the soil still warm and moist with dew, you should be eating these in four to five weeks.

Direct sow a row of rocket. It seems late to still be sowing seed, but salad rocket does not bat an eyelid at the cold or wet. There’s no flea beetle around now either and the scourge of the slug and snail is on the decrease.

Sow all your autumn-winter picking salad leaves and herbs if not done in August.

Long-season herbs, such as chives, lovage and sorrel, should all be cut to the ground. They will be up again in a couple of weeks with fresh leaves.

Cut back the fruited canes of summer raspberries, tying in the new green canes for next year’s crop.

If you’re not happy with your lawn, now is a good time for a bit of TLCfollow our Autumn Lawn Care tips

October

In late October, cut back asparagus stalks to the ground. Mulch 3 to 4 inches with well rotted manure. Prepare your vegetable beds for spring by removing all debris and digging over the plot, leaving the soil open so the frost can get into the soil. Cover with well rotted manure.

Lift and store Begonia, Dahlia and Gladiolus bulbs if you want to replant them next year. If you leave Dahlias in the ground over winter make sure you give them a good mulch to protect them from the wet and cold. Plant your spring bulbs such as Crocus, Daffodils, Irises, Day lilies, Freesias, Hyacinth and Tulips .

There are fabulous evergreen shrubs you can use to plant up tubs and containers- Skimmias, Leucothoe, Pernettya, Euomymus to add structure and colour through the winter, add Pansies, Violas and Cyclamen for seasonal colour. Underplant with bulbs- Tulips at the bottom, Daffodils above and Crocus on top.

Plant wallflowers in bare patches of borders which will flower in April/May- they are wonderful underplanted with Tulips.

Plant fruit and ornamental trees- remember a stake and tie to avoid them being blown around too much over winter.

November

Early BirdNovember is a perfect time to plant a tree, when dormant the tree will establish more successfully than during summer.

Now is a good time to wash, dry and store any used pots, seed trays and containers to remove overwintering pests and diseases that may infect your plants next year. Whilst you have your tidying head on, clean your tools and apply linseed oil to prevent rusting over the winter.

It’s a good idea to raise pots up off of the ground to prevent them from becoming water logged and to move any deciduous trees and shrubs whilst they are dormant, not forgetting to give them a good prune.

As the weather is starting to get colder don’t forget to make sure bird feeders and tables are topped up with food. We have a new range of bird food available from Ernest Charles. It is 100% Wheat Free and contains only the finest ingredients to keep the birds in your garden satisfied.

Plant up your tulip bulbs and you still have time to plant your daffodil bulbs. Don’t forget that now is the perfect time to plant your roses and the celebration roses are a great gift idea!

December

There is so much to do in December – presents, parties and delving into the tub of chocolates you have been patiently waiting to open! Don’t feel guilty this time, did you know the colourful wrappers of Quality Street sweets are compostable? They are made from cellulose, derived from wood pulp, so rather than chuck them in the bin with your Christmas wrapping paper place them on your compost heap!

To work off those treats there is still so much to do in the garden: clean out sheds, repair and paint fencing, clean out your water butts and remove the slime from your patio with a scrubbing broom or pressure washer. To make it even easier you can use a liquid patio cleaner like Patio Magic.

Plant up winter containers with hardy cyclamen, ivy, skimmia and evergreen grasses to add colour to the garden. Prune wisterias, roses and acers and move any containers of shrubs and bedding plants into a sheltered position for protection.

Happy Christmas from everyone at Fairweather’s Garden Centre, Beaulieu.