River Wissey Lovell Fuller

March Gardening

March 2016

March is a really busy month in the gardening calendar and it’s very easy to get behind on essential garden tasks. If you haven’t already, start by giving the garden a good tidy and finish any remaining winter tasks before the growing season really gets underway. March is also the time to turn your thoughts to summer and your summer planting schemes as many seeds should be planted now. One plant that can be propagated now is Begonias. Begonias are possibly one of the most loved summer plants, for one reason alone that unlike most other flowering plants they prefer to grow in shade. Tuberous begonias produce beautiful rose-like flowers in a wide range of colours, except blue. Cascading begonias such as Illumination begonias are perfect for hanging baskets and upright types, including nonstop begonias are perfect for tubs. There are many varieties to choose from but all tuberous begonias require the same care. Begonia tubers should be planted indoors at least a month before the last frost (usually our last frost is the 3rd week of May). It is important that the tubers have sprouted before you plant them, if your tubers are slow to sprout move them to a warm place, such as on a windowsill above a radiator, or in a propagator set at 70°F (21°C). The hollow side is the top from which the tuber will shoot, if the corm doesn’t seem to have a hollow look for tiny pink buds or an old stem scar as they indicate the top and should face up. Handle the tubers with care, since they may not sprout if they get bruised or damaged. Plant them individually in small pots, or seed trays 3 inches apart, in seed compost. As begonias require good drainage, ensure the pots and seed trays have adequate drainage holes. If the soil is heavy, add in 3 parts compost to 1 part horticultural silver sand to improve drainage. Cover the tops of the tubers with compost as roots will develop from the top and sides of the tubers. Place the tray or pots in a gravel tray full of water and let the compost become evenly moist, but not soggy. Place the trays or pots in a warm place that receives filtered sunlight, at a temperature of 60 – 70 degrees. Unless the pots or trays show dryness there should be no need to water them again until the plants develop. Once the plants have grown about 4 or 5 inches and they have plenty of roots its time to transplant them, they will also require more water at this stage. Hopefully at this point the frosts are over and they can be planted in their required positions such as hanging baskets or pots. As well planting Begonias, there are many other tasks to do in the garden this month (weather permitting!). 1. Plant out chitted early seed potatoes, shallots & onions. 2. Protect newly emerging shoots from slugs and snails using slug pellets of your choice, we recommend using a product that contains Ferric Phosphate, a pet safe, water resistant pellet that degrades into fertiliser. 3. Weeding, weeding and more weeding – weeds compete with garden plants for space and nutrients. 4. 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. 5. Repot houseplants. 6. Move (or plant) strawberry plants undercover for an earlier crop. 7. Give watering cans a scrub and clean with garden disinfectant such as Jeyes Fluid, to help prevent fungal diseases. 8. Lift and divide congested clumps of perennials including hardy geraniums, crocosmia, hostas, solidago and astilbe. Whatever March brings, I hope you are all able to enjoy some time outside in your garden. Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk

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