This is a great time of year with the temperatures rising in the bright spring sunshine and the countryside coming to life with splashes of wildflowers and the trees beginning to come into leaf a little bit every day. The weather recently has been very good , bright and sunny, cool at nights with no real frost and with a little bit of rain that did no more than keep the dust down ! hopefully it will remain the same as long as possible but by the time you are reading this however it could of all changed as April weather is notorious for its heavy ‘April Showers’ and indeed the unsettled ‘cuckoo weather’ at the end of the month into early May. But , let’s be optimistic and hope that this will be the beginning of what will turn into a long warm summer !!
So, less of the chat and off to work !
1. The dry weather has made it possible to cut the grass down very low into the mossy layers in many lawns. Take the opportunity to spread some Lawn fertilizer and Moss Killer to help curb back the moss and encourage grass growth. By collecting the clippings at each mowing you will help reduce the further build-up of moss. Apply the fertilizer just before some rain is forecast and don’t mow for about 4 to 5 days later.
2. From now on it is time to start planting up your summer patio containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. There are so many flowering patio plants and summer annuals to choose from now that you can mix and match and come up with your own recipe for a colourful arrangement. Just be careful of the clear skies at night until the middle of May as it is still possible to get a nights’ frost up until then that can damage your plants and can even kill the more sensitive ones . To create your summer displays you can use any container to plant into from old boots, tin cans, dustbins and saucepans if you are into recycling, or to colourful plastic pots and ceramic pots and terracotta. Then choose your compost, from a regular potting compost to one that contains slow release fertilizer that will feed your plants for several months. A water retention gel can also be incorporated into the compost at this stage if you want to make the task of watering in the summer a little easier. And then off you can go to choose your selection of plants. Not possible to mention all the different types available but we have a wide range in stock out at Willowfield that we can show you. The most popular plants would be Geranium, Petunia, Begonia and Lobelia but there are many many more to choose from, so come on out and have a look see !
3. In the Fruit garden, try and get any trees or bushes planted up as soon as you can before summer arrives. Fertilize the soil with some organic fertilizer or a layer of mulch would also help keep weed growth down in close proximity to the base of the bush/tree. Keep an eye out for an early attack of greenfly on the young developing leaves. After a mild enough winter there will be small armies of greenfly ready to attack any young tender growth that will soon be appearing. Make sure all freshly planted trees or shrubs are securely supported to prevent ‘rocking’ n the wind. Black currants, Gooseberry and Raspberry should ideally all be planted now but still possible for another few weeks with a bit of extra care and attention.
4. In the vege garden there is plenty to do. Potatoes should be planted by now and earthing up can take place whenever the shoots are several inches above the soil surface. Earthing up at this time of year, as well as helping to increase your yield , it also helps prevent against frost damage..Peas and beens can also be sown direct into the soil as well as the root crops like carrot, parsnip, turnips ..etc. Lettuce and cabbage can also be planted as young plants. To prevent against damage from frost or cold winds, you can protect your plants and encourage germination of freshly sown crops by covering the ground with a special ‘fleece’ that is available in the garden centre. Thus will keep the ground several degrees higher and encourage early growth.
5. A Herb garden can be planted up from potted plants or seed can be sown under protection for planting out much later on. Planting can be carried out in the ground or in containers close to the house for ease of picking. Most herbs are happy to be grouped together but Mint should be kept in their own container as they are very invasive and will take over the whole herb patch if not contained.
6. Lavender will make a great summer flowering plant and should be planted up now. The regular Lavender augustifolia makes the largest toughest plant that can withstand our winters very well but misses out of the intensity of colour produced by Lavender Hidcote or Munstead varieties. If planting on wet ground, plant on a slightly higher raised area to give better drainage.
7. Alpines are very useful for providing colour in the garden at this time of the year as they are able to withstand the late frosts of April without any damage to their flowers. Aubretia, Arabis and Campanulas are best of the early flowering alpines and there are plenty more to follow for continual splashes of colour.
8. Larger Herbaceous perennials can also be planted now for summer flowering. Astilbe, Delphinium, Lupin, Phlox…etc will all produce a great splash of coulor for later on in the season.
9. In the shrub beds the early flowering Mahonia, Camelia, Viburnum and Forsythia are beginning to give way to Magnolias, Rhododendrons, Choisya and the various Pieris with their changing leaf colour and flowers. Add new bushedto your shrubbery to provide a continuous splash of colour for throughout the season.
10. Get as much work done as possible over the next few weeks as it will make summer gardening work so much easier !….and no midges at the moment !!
Until next month, Happy Gardening and come and see us outat Willowfield on the Sneem Road out of Kenmare
Simon and Margaret Linnell 087 9809733
garnden nites to fllow