Spring is sprung at Willowfield!

Spring can’t be too far away. Yes, there are Daffodills in flower but it still doesn’t feel like spring yet, but we are getting there ! But a wee bit later than last year. We have had a couple of cold spells but it is the relentless rain and lack of sunshine which has set spring back this year. Spring is always unpredictable and could easily come right as quick as anything. While we are still in lockdown it would be great to get some sunshine so the garden could be ‘spring cleaned’ ready for the summer ahead.

1. Working on the Lawn is certainly very difficult at the moment due to all the rain and then frost but it needs to be raked to remove unwanted winter debris of twigs and leaves and the first mowing is necessary due to the grass growth which hasn’t stopped all winter. This first mowing is just to tidy up the uneven growth that occurs in winter. Once the lawn has dried out and has recovered from this first cut spread some Lawn feed with moss and weed killer. There appears to be more moss than grass in the lawn at the moment and the sooner this imbalance is tackled the better. As it warms up the grass will have a helping hand to try and outgrow the moss which will be in retreat after the fertilizer application. If you really want to launch a major attack on the moss in the Lawn use ‘Lawn Sand’ or ‘Sulphate of Iron’ and this will really blacken the moss fairly quickly and give the grass a bit of breathing space to fill in and will green up as spring growth commences.
2. Now is a good time to do some fairly hard pruning. Shrubs which have grown out of control can be reshaped and the regrowth will start in just a few weeks’ time and the new growth will look fresh and uniform. Don’t prune back spring flowering shrubs until after they have finished flowering. Apply a shrub fertilizer over the coming weeks to help boost this regrowth. Pelleted Poultry Manure or Seaweed Feed both provide a good balance of fertilizer for most shrubs.
3. Spring is a good time for adding shrubs to your garden and Forsythia, Witch Hazels, Camelias, Viburnum , Skimmia and Purple Plums are just a few of the early flowering shrubs actually coming into flower now which could be added now for instant colour. This is also the time for planting up Hedges. Laurel, Beech, Boxus, Griselinia are all available until the end of March for creating hedges around the garden. So if you are in need of creating a shelter belt or screening off a part of the garden, now is the time of year to do it.
4. Patio containers, window boxes and hanging baskets can be planted up with a mixture of spring flowering bulbs like narcissi tete a tete, hyacinth or crocus together with primrose, bellis daisies and the small flowering violas. This mixed planting will provide colour from now until summer….great value !
5. Seed sowing of early vegetables can now take place in polythene tunnels (or on kitchen window sills). Peas, Beans, lettuce and early brassicas can be sown in the protection of a tunnel. Give extra warmth by placing a sheet of polythene, fleece or an old window frame directly over the seed bed or trays to provide extra warmth and protection. Tomatoes, Peppers ,and Cucumbers would require additional heat and a kitchen window sill will encourage quicker germination. Outside sowings of vege can start when it’s a wee bit warmer towards the end of March… don’t be in too much of a hurry just yet. Onion sets and shallots on the other hand can be planted now and they will start rooting out surprisingly quickly.
6. Seed potatoes, which are basically specially grown certified tubers, can be sprouted, or ‘chitted’, ready for planting towards the end of March or a few weeks earlier in a polythene tunnel. Chitting – is the name for the process that encourages tubers to sprout before planting. To chit seed potatoes, place them side by side in a clean egg box or tray ‘rose end’ up (the end where tiny buds can be seen). Label the box with the potato variety and put in a cool light place for 4-6 weeks allowing the chits to develop. By putting them in a light place, the shoots will remain short, dark green and compact. Left in the dark, long, pale brittle shoots develop that can easily break off when planting. Hopefully by the end of March the ground will be in good shape for planting. Early varieties are available now at Willowfield and Main Crop varieties will be in from next week.
7. Fruit trees and bushes should be planted by the end of March to allow a bit of rooting to take place before they start to flower and fruit in early summer….Apples, Pears, Plums, Cherries, Strawberries… etc are all easy to grow for your very own summer fruit salads !This year we have a new range of PATIO FRUIT trees that can be grown in containers or in the ground. They are ideal for small places as they will stay dwarf.
8. Get your garden machinery in working order ready for the busy season ahead. Changing the oil and spark plugs. Greasing and oiling where necessary should all be done now so that at the first opportunity of a dry spell you can get the mower rolling and tidy up the soggy mess that used to be the lawn !!
9. The Birds still very much like their seed and peanuts so don’t forget about them ! Nesting season is about to begin and they will need a lot of energy !

Please remember to wear a facemask when visiting the Garden Centre and only 1 group in the actual shop at a time to give everyone plenty of space ! Have a look around outside if you have to wait or ‘Call and Collect’ if you want to pick up from the car park.