River Wissey Lovell Fuller

March - Gardening advice

March 2014

Hello and welcome to my new gardening article. I’m Rachel, a partner at P&R Garden Supplies, Brandon. I’ve been writing a gardening blog and articles for a while now and I’ve been kindly asked to write for the Village Pump.

We’ve been so lucky not to face the flooding that has affected so much of the south; however our soil is unusually wet. Wet soils can cause havoc to plants, rotting roots and washing away valuable nutrients. It’s essential to replace those nutrients as plants will now be rapidly growing. Fish, blood & bone (my preferred fertiliser for flower borders) is a natural product that is often referred to as organic although in theory without knowing the exact treatments and feeds of the fish and animals that are used to create the product it may not necessarily be organic and may contain traces of antibiotics. For obvious reasons ‘Fish, blood & bone’ is not suitable to use on vegetable plants that are being grown for vegetarians! Grow more is an inorganic chemical version of ‘fish, blood & bone’ it was developed by ICI during the second world war for gardeners to use in the ‘dig for victory’ campaign. The ministry of Agriculture launched the ‘dig for victory’ campaign one month after the start of the Second World War. Every home was encouraged to transform their gardens into allotments, to not only provide food for their families but to help the war effort by freeing up valuable space for war materials on merchant ships. By 1943 over a million tons of vegetables were being grown in private gardens. Today, many of us choose to grow our own fruit and vegetables for a number of reasons, it may be so that you know exactly what fertilisers and pesticides have been used during growing, or the huge choice of varieties to suit your own personal tastes, you may grow for freshness, for saving money, or too teach children about where food comes from, but the one thing that all vegetable growers share is the enjoyment of growing and satisfaction from eating something you have produced.

The wide range of fertilisers available to home gardeners can make it quite overwhelming to know which one to choose. By law the chemical content of all fertilisers are declared using three main nutrients that all plants require to grow. N: Nitrogen. Nitrogen causes rapid plant growth and ‘greens’ yellowing leaves P: Phosphorus aids the growth plant roots, it is essential in all living beings to create DNA and for cell generation. K: Potassium regulates water flow throughout a plant, and is essential for promoting flowers and fruit. Numbers alongside the letters refer to the percentage of available nutrients in the fertiliser. Choose a fertiliser that best suits the plants requirements, for example hanging baskets will need a fertiliser that’s high in Potassium to create masses of flowers, and leafy green vegetables need lots of nitrogen.  Other trace nutrients are essential to plant growth including magnesium, calcium, sulphur, boron, copper, iron, and zinc. Take care when using any product in the garden, wear gloves and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

As well as fertilising and mulching, there are many other tasks to do in the garden this month (weather permitting!). Here’s my Top 10:

  1. Plant out chitted early seed potatoes, shallots & onions.
  2. Protect newly emerging shoots from slugs and snails using slug pellets of your choice, I recommend using a product that contains Ferric Phosphate, a pet safe, water resistant pellet that degrades into fertiliser.
  3. Continue sowing, and potting on seeds & seedlings.
  4. Weeding, weeding and more weeding – weeds compete with garden plants for space and nutrients.
  5. As the flowers from daffodil and narcissus bulbs fade, carefully remove the flower head to prevent seed setting, leave the leaves to die down naturally.
  6. Repot houseplants.
  7. Move (or plant) strawberry plants undercover for an earlier crop.
  8. Lawn care: cut lawns on a high blade setting on dry days. Trim lawn edges and sow seed in bare patches.
  9. Give watering cans a scrub and clean with garden disinfectant such as Jeyes Fluid, to help prevent fungal diseases.
  10. Lift and divide congested clumps of perennials including hardy geraniums, crocosmia, hostas, solidago and astilbe.

I hope you enjoyed the article, please feel free to email me at: info@p-rgardensupplies.co.uk if you have a gardening question or topic you’d like answered in future articles. But for now, whatever March may bring, I hope you get to spend a few pleasant hours in your garden.

Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800   www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk

Copyright remains with independent content providers where specified, including but not limited to Village Pump contributors. All rights reserved.