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Monthly gardening tasks guide

Contributed by editor on Apr 12, 2010 - 02:41 PM

The Gazette brings you a month by month guide to help you keep your garden or allotment in shape.
Click on the month......


Monthly gardening tips - March

Contributed by editor on Mar 01, 2007 - 12:05 AM

GENERAL

All beds and borders can be tidied up. Rake off any leaves or other debris and prick over the beds and borders where permanent plantings of trees, shrubs and perennials are established. After this apply a generous mulch of well rotted compost or other organic matter to suppress weeds and conserve moisture.

Clean all hard surfaces such as paving and concrete to get rid of winter dirt and algae. Either scrub with a stiff broom or use a power washer.

Prepare for slug attacks by distributing slug pellets close to vulnerable plants or by the use of slug traps. It is still too cold to use biological controls.

LAWN

The first cut of the season is likely to be necessary early in the month. It is important to set the mower blades high for the first cut. No lower than 2.5cm. The blades can be gradually lowered with each successive mowing.

This is a good time to establish a lawn from either turf or seed.

Lightly scarify the lawn to remove any over-winter accumulation of thatch. This is dead moss and debris tangled amongst the grass.

Aerate the turf with a hollow tined fork or aerator. Afterwards brush sharp sand into the holes.

Apply a spring weed and feed.

POND

Remove the pool heater and replace the pump.

Bog garden plants can be planted now. These are the ones that grow in damp soil rather than the margins of the pond.

FLOWERS

Prune roses and make the final pruning of other deciduous shrubs and trees.

Complete the planting of any bare-rooted trees, shrubs and hardy herbaceous perennials.

Plant lilies out in the garden as well as in pots or containers.

Sow hardy annuals like cornflower, calendula and larkspur when weather and soil conditions permit.

VEGETABLES

Sow maincrop carrots, peas and onions, along with salad crops such as lettuce, radish and spring onions.

Sow herbs like parsley, lovage and summer savory.

Early potatoes can be planted towards the end of the month.

Plant onion sets. Use a globe-shaped variety on heavy soils, a flat bulbed variety in lighter conditions.

FRUIT

Spray all fruit trees and bushes with a combined systemic insecticide and fungicide as soon as the first leaves emerge. This helps to protect against common problems such as mildew and greenfly.

GREENHOUSE

Start dahlias into growth to prepare for taking cuttings. Root cuttings of chrysanthemums, fuchsias and geraniums already started into growth.

Continue with sowing bedding plant seeds like French and African marigolds, tagetes, asters, nemesia and mesembryanthemum.

Pot up greenhouse tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers so that they produce a good root system.

All well established pot plants like ferns, rubber plants and palms should be re-potted now.


Monthly gardening tips - February

Contributed by editor on Feb 01, 2007 - 12:05 AM

GENERAL 

Prune deciduous trees like mountain ash, flowering crab apple and laburnum along with fruits such as apples and pears. Remove weak, crossing and diseased wood and aim for a good shape and the free circulation of air. Never prune when frosty.

This is a good time to move soil or manure around the garden in a wheelbarrow, especially when the soil is frozen. Never walk or wheel a wheelbarrow across a frozen lawn as both foot and tyre marks will be scorched into the grass and take a while to grow out.

LAWN 

When the weather is open repairs can be made to an established lawn. Broken edges can be repaired and humps and hollows levelled out. 

POND 

In prolonged frosty weather keep a small area ice-free with an electric pool heater. This allows the escape of gases resulting from decomposition on the floor of the pool, which if trapped may asphyxiate the fish. 

FLOWERS 

Plant bare-rooted roses and decorative shrubs when the weather is open. Incorporate plenty of shrub planting compost into the holes at planting time.

Freshly lifted bare-rooted herbaceous perennials can continue to be planted when the soil is not frosted.

As snowdrops and winter aconites come to the end of their flowering period they can be transplanted if required. New bulbs can be purchased "in green" for planting now. These establish much more quickly than dry bulbs planted in the autumn.

After a sharp frost check all recently planted shrubs, perennials and spring bedding plants for frost heave. This is the lifting of the soil around the plants. When this happens await the thaw and firm the plants back. 

VEGETABLES

  Sow parsnip seeds. As they are usually of fairly poor germination sow them liberally and then thin the emerging seedlings to the strongest well placed plants.

Longpod varieties of broad beans and round seeded peas can be sown directly in the open ground when the soil conditions are suitable.

Sowings of early carrots and lettuce can be made under cloches or in a cold frame. Be careful to select only quick maturing early varieties. 

FRUIT 

Complete the pruning of both soft and top fruit. Cut out any crossing, weak or diseased growth. Reduce the past season's growth of gooseberries and redcurrants by one third. Cut newly planted raspberries and blackcurrants, along with the past season’s growth of established plants, to within 5cm of the ground. Shorten back the previous season's growth of apples and pears and thin the lateral shoots of plums and cherries. 

GREENHOUSE

  Many tender bedding plant varieties can be sown now. Varieties include salvia, lobelia, fibrous rooted begonia, petunia, ageratum and antirrhinum.

Bring out over-wintered fuchsias and geraniums, re-pot and start into growth. Chrysanthemum stools which are boxed can be brought into the warmth and light and encouraged to start sprouting and produce fresh young cuttings.

Sow the seeds of greenhouse tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers.


Monthly gardening tips - January

Contributed by editor on Jan 01, 2007 - 12:05 AM

GENERAL

Protect recently planted and vulnerable evergreens from chill winds. Fine mesh soft green netting supported by stakes or canes is ideal.

Wash and disinfect any seed trays or pots that are going to be used during the coming season.

Make any structural alterations to the garden. Remake or re-align paths, erect fencing or trellis.

LAWN

If the weather is open and the grass continues to grow, mow it with the mower blades set high. Grass should be cut no lower than 2.5cm and the cuttings must be removed. If the grass requires cutting it is important to do so, even if the gardening books suggest differently.

POND

In prolonged frosty weather keep a small area ice-free with an electric pool heater. This allows the escape of gases resulting from the decomposition of vegetation o­n the floor of the pool, which if trapped may asphyxiate the fish.

FLOWERS

Plant bare-rooted roses and decorative shrubs when the weather is open. Incorporate plenty of shrub planting compost into the holes at planting time. Freshly lifted bare-rooted herbaceous perennials can continue to be planted when the soil is not frosted.

After a sharp frost check all recently planted shrubs, perennials and spring bedding plants for frost heave. This is the lifting of the soil around the plants. When this happens await the thaw and firm the plants back.

VEGETABLES

Exhibition o­nions should be sown under glass. Use a soil-based compost and keep in full light, but cool and frost-free.

Purchase seed potatoes and place them in a light, cool, frost-free position in seed trays. Stand them with the rose end upwards. This is the end with most eyes and from where they will sprout.

Rounded seeded peas can be sown directly into the soil beneath cloches.

FRUIT

Plant new soft fruit bushes and canes. Shorten back the past season's growth of gooseberries and redcurrants by o­ne third. Cut raspberries and blackcurrants back to within 5cm of ground level.

GREENHOUSE

Make early sowings of fine seeded bedding plants like petunia, lobelia and fibrous rooted begonias in a heated propagator.

Sow greenhouse tomatoes, peppers and aubergines in heat.  


Monthly gardening tips - November

Contributed by editor on Nov 07, 2006 - 08:30 AM

MONTHLY GARDENING TIPS - NOVEMBER

GENERAL 

Leaf fall continues and they should all be collected and placed in a wire or plastic mesh enclosure so that they can rot down and become leaf mould, an invaluable soil conditioner 

Continue the clearing up and cultivation of vacant beds and borders 

Paths, patios and paved areas are often very slippery with accumulated algae at this time of the year. Scrub with a stiff brush or power wash 

LAWN 

Remove fallen leaves from the lawn every few days. If a carpet of leaves remains on the lawn this can cause the grass to yellow and rapidly deteriorate 

Clean up the lawn mower and put it away for the winter. It is prudent to get the blades sharpened at this time of the year, rather than leaving it until the spring 

POND 

Net the pond and around it to prevent falling leaves from blowing into the water 

FLOWERS 

Bare rooted trees, shrubs, roses, climbers and herbaceous plants are available now and can be planted where soil preparation has been thorough 

Lilies can be planted both outdoors and in containers now 

Ground cover plants and heathers can be planted between now and the spring 

This is a good time to establish a hedge. Do not consider only traditional privet and laurel, for there are many good flowering hedges such as berberis and escallonia 

Tidy up the rock garden and protect any hairy or grey leafed plants from the wet by placing a sheet of glass over them raised on two bricks 

Many decorative shrubs such as philadelphus, weigela and forsythia can be now propagated from hardwood cuttings rooted in a cold frame or a sheltered spot outdoors 

VEGETABLES 

Cut back asparagus and tidy up the bed adding a top dressing of well rotted organic matter 

Run the hoe between winter crops of brassicas in order to keep the soil surface fresh and friable 

Dig as much of the vegetable plot as possible before the New Year so that there is plenty of time for the soil to be weathered by wind, rain and frost 

FRUIT 

Plant new fruit trees and bushes. If the fruit trees are bush, half-standard or standard ensure that they are well staked 

GREENHOUSE 

Take care with the watering. Most plants benefit from reduced watering and no feeding during the winter unless they are flowering freely 

Ensure that short-day plants like poinsettia receive less than twelve hours of day length. This is important and ensures that they flower at the correct time 

Dead head and de-leaf regularly. It is very important during the autumn and winter in order to prevent disease build up 

In mild weather be sure to ventilate adequately


Monthly gardening tips - October

Contributed by editor on Oct 01, 2006 - 12:05 AM

MONTHLY GARDENING TIPS - OCTOBER

GENERAL

As leaves fall they should be collected and placed in a wire enclosure so that they can rot down and become leaf mould, an invaluable soil conditioner

Continue the clearing up and cultivation of vacant beds and borders

LAWN

Remove fallen leaves from the lawn every few days. If a carpet of leaves remains o­n the lawn it causes the grass to yellow and rapidly deteriorate

Brush off worm casts regularly with a stiff broom if they become troublesome. Certainly do so before mowing or else the lawn will smear

If leatherjackets are a nuisance, spread a sheet of black polythene over the affected area of the lawn overnight. In the morning the little pests will all have come to the surface and can be swept up

POND

Net the pond and around it to prevent falling leaves from blowing into the water

FLOWERS

Make preparations for planting new shrubs and roses. Dig the soil thoroughly incorporating plenty of well rotted organic matter

Continue planting spring flowering bulbs. Consider both formal and naturalised plantings

Plant spring bedding plants such as wallflowers and forget-me-nots, along with winter pansies

Prepare winter hanging baskets with heathers, ivies, pansies and dwarf bulbs

Reduce the growth of strong growing shrubs and roses by about o­ne third to prevent them blowing about in autumn gales and causing wind rock

Cut back all herbaceous plants and tidy up beds and borders

As soon as the frost has blackened the foliage, lift and dry gladioli and dahlias ready for winter storage

VEGETABLES

Lift all remaining crops that can be stored. Parsnips are always left in the ground and lifted as required as their flavour is improved by frosting

Remove all crop debris of peas and beans. Cut of the foliage and dig in the roots as they are rich in nitrogen which can be utilized by a succeeding crop

Tidy up vegetables which are to over-winter removing faded foliage. Tall growing Brussels sprouts benefit from the individual support of a cane

Plant out spring cabbages early in the month so that they establish well before severe winter weather

FRUIT

Clear up all fallen leaves especially those that show signs of scab or other fungal diseases which may carry over the winter if allowed to remain o­n the ground

Make preparations for planting new fruit trees and soft fruit bushes and canes

GREENHOUSE

Test the heating system and make sure everything is in order

If shading still remains o­n the greenhouse remove it now as plants will require all the light that they can get

Insulate the greenhouse with polythene or bubble wrap.


Monthly gardening tips - September

Contributed by editor on Sep 01, 2006 - 12:05 AM

MONTHLY GARDENING TIPS - SEPTEMBER

GENERAL

It is still important to keep on top of the weeding even though the
season is coming to a close. If weeds can be prevented from seeding there will
be many fewer problems next season.

As beds and borders are vacated, dig them over and prepare for planting.
Those areas that are to remain vacant until the spring should have the soil
turned over in as large lumps as possible in order that they might weather
properly during the winter.

LAWN

Apply a moss killer to the lawn before scarifying. Do not scarify if the moss
has not been treated as the problem will only be distributed across the turf.
Keep an eye open for turf disease like fusarium and fairy rings. There are
treatments for these problems which will not become too severe if dealt with
properly.

Aerate the lawn to relieve compaction using an aerator or hollow tined fork.
Brush coarse sand into the holes. A new lawn from turf or seed can be
established this month, although neither will be usable until next year.

Repairs to broken edges and the levelling of humps and hollows can be
satisfactorily carried out now.

POND

Cut back faded marginal aquatics. Do not cut hollow stemmed varieties below
water level as they often "drown". Remove the pump and replace with a
pool heater. Net the pond or around it to prevent falling leaves from blowing
into the water.

FLOWERS

Spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and crocus can
all be planted. Remember that bulbs are excellent for planters, containers and
window boxes as well as the open garden.

As summer bedding plants fade these should be removed and the soil prepared
for the next planting. Fuchsias, geraniums and other tender perennial and
shrubby plants which will not survive the winter outdoors should be lifted and
prepared for over-wintering indoors.

Chrysanthemums in pots which have spent the summer months outdoors should be
removed to the protection of the greenhouse. Cut back the fading vegetation of
early flowering herbaceous perennials.

VEGETABLES

Most vegetables can be harvested now and stored. These include carrots,
beetroot, swedes, turnips, potatoes and onions. Winter hardy lettuce can be sown
outdoors.

Protect the rows with pea guards as birds find the young seedlings very
attractive. Lambs lettuce, perpetual spinach and winter spinach can be sown now
but should be protected from birds by pea guards.

FRUIT

The apple and pear harvest is in full swing. Pick as they ripen. An
indication of this is by placing a hand under a fruit and gently lifting. If it
detaches from the stem easily it is ripe.

Prune and tie in all cane fruits, especially blackberries, tayberries and
wineberries. Remove any unwanted suckering growths.

GREENHOUSE

Clear out the old tomato and cucumber crop. Remove all plants outside and
give the greenhouse a thorough cleaning with a strong disinfectant, before
taking them back inside.

Plants which have spent the summer stood outside, like winter cherry and
Christmas azalea, should be brought in and given protection.

Pot up amaryllis for winter flowering.


Monthly gardening tips - August

Contributed by editor on Aug 01, 2006 - 12:05 AM


MONTHLY GARDENING TIPS - AUGUST...

GENERAL

Water planters, containers, window boxes and hanging baskets as well as any flowers and vegetables in the open that are suffering from dryness

Regular weeding is still very important. Keep the hoe moving so that seedling weeds do not have an opportunity to become established.

Control pests and diseases with an organic solution wherever possible. Where this is not available select multipurpose or combined pesticides to reduce the number of times necessary to spray

This is the last month during which the biological control of slugs is effective. Slug traps and slug pellets are the o­nly remedy from late this month until the winter

Cut hedges regularly as required

LAWN

Continue to mow the lawn regularly and during dry spells water it to keep it fresh and green. Keep the edges well trimmed

If a new lawn is contemplated for the autumn, now is the time to get soil preparations under way

POND

Towards the end of the month collect some winter buds or turions of the arrowhead to over-winter indoors. The arrowhead is hardy, but its winter bulb-like storage organs are often eaten by vermin

Tidy up the poolside removing any fading blossoms or foliage

FLOWERS

The first spring flowering bulbs for forcing arrive in garden centres this month. Pot up paperwhite narcissus and prepared hyacinths and tulips in bulb fibre and place them in a cool place where they can remain for ten to twelve weeks

Continue to dead head herbaceous and bedding plants along with decorative shrubs as their blossoms fade. This tidies up the plants and prevents them from putting their resources into seed production and often results in a second flush of blossom

Plant Madonna lilies in an open free-draining soil

Remove tired annuals like sweet peas as they begin to fade and prepare the soil for autumn planting

VEGETABLES

Begin to harvest main crop vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and o­nions. Lift them and dry them off naturally before rubbing off dried soil and storing

Any open ground that can remain vacant until the spring can be sown with a green manure crop such as mustard

Sow seeds of winter radish, perpetual spinach and winter spinach

Earth up and blanch celery.

FRUIT

Cut back raspberry canes that have finished fruiting. They are of no further use

The past summer's fruiting wood of blackcurrants should be removed completely

Provide support for any heavily laden branches of plums

Remove strawberry runners from plants. Do not use them to create a new bed as they are likely to be diseased. Always start with certified virus-free stock

GREENHOUSE

Many outdoor and indoor plants can be increased from semi-ripe stem cuttings rooted in the greenhouse

Watering, ventilation, shading and "damping down" must be regularly undertaken

Continue to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and peppers. With tomatoes as soon as the fruits start to turn red remove a few of the adjacent lower leaves to assist ripening

Flowering greenhouse plants must be regularly dead headed and any faded leaves removed


Monthly gardening tips - July

Contributed by editor on Jul 01, 2006 - 12:12 AM


MONTHLY GARDENING TIPS - JULY

GENERAL

Watering continues to be a priority. Container plantings, hanging baskets and window boxes must be attended to regularly

Weeding of all areas continues to be important. Keep the hoe moving so that seedling weeds do not have an opportunity to become established

Pests and diseases continue to be a problem. Look carefully for possible organic solutions and where these are not available select multipurpose or combined pesticides to reduce the number of times it is necessary to spray

Slug control can continue with beer traps or biological control

Cut hedges regularly as required

LAWN

Mow the lawn regularly and during dry spells water to keep it fresh and green. Keep the edges well trimmed

POND

Dead head any of the marginal plants that have finished flowering to prevent them seeding into the margins and becoming a nuisance. Remove faded foliage at the same time

Remove any green filamentous algae such as blanket weed by twisting it around a stick with a nail protruding from the bottom. Blanket weed is common in otherwise perfectly clear water

FLOWERS

Dead head hardy herbaceous plants and shrubs as their blossoms fade. This tidies the plants up, prevents them from putting their resources into seed production and often results in a second flush of blossom


Plant autumn flowering crocus and colchicum. Madonna lilies are also available towards the end of the month and should be planted immediately

Sow seeds of winter pansies in a cold frame

Prick out polyanthus seedlings and those of cushion daisies. As soon as wallflower seedlings produce three or four rough leaves, transplant them into nursery rows

Trim up spring and early summer flowering rock garden plants and put a little slow release fertilizer in the centre of each clump to encourage it to remain tight growth

Regularly feed plants growing in containers, planters, window boxes and hanging baskets

VEGETABLES

Sow kohl rabi, Chinese cabbage, spring cabbage and perpetual spinach

Lift shallots and dry off before storage

Continue to earth up potatoes

Water regularly during dry spells, especially celery, celeriac and leeks. If these receive a check in growth they usually run to seed. Ensure that runner beans have copious amounts of water

FRUIT

The soft fruit harvest is in full swing. Protect vulnerable fruits such as red currants and raspberries from birds by providing a covering of fine netting

Thin crowded groups of culinary apples and pears so that individuals develop properly. This is especially important o­n trained trees like espaliers and cordons

Continue the summer pruning of cherries, plums, peaches and trained apples and pears

GREENHOUSE

Regularly remove the side shoots of tomatoes. When eight trusses of blossoms have formed, pinch out the tops

Mist the open blossoms of peppers and aubergines with clear water to help set the fruit. Feed regularly using a liquid tomato feed

Watering, ventilating, shading and "damping down" must be carefully and regularly undertaken

Sow seeds of autumn and winter flowering pot plants such as cineraria, primula and schizanthus. 


Monthly gardening tips - June

Contributed by editor on Jun 01, 2006 - 12:06 AM


GARDENING TIPS - JUNE

GENERAL

Watering is likely to become a priority this month. It is certainly going to be important for containers, planters and hanging baskets. Newly planted bedding subjects and vegetables should also be observed and watered as necessary.

Pests and diseases are likely to become rife this month. Look carefully for possible organic solutions and where these are not available select multipurpose or combined pesticides to reduce the number of times it is necessary to spray.

The soil is now warm enough to introduce biological slug control with nematode worms.

Cut hedges regularly as required.

LAWN

Regular mowing is essential. If the weather turns hot and dry, raise the blades. Close cutting during hot weather can result in the grass scorching.

POND

Some marginal plants such as the brooklime, water mint and blue musk can be easily increased from stem cuttings.

Crowded aquatic irises can be lifted, divided and replanted immediately after flowering.

FLOWERS

Complete the planting of all bedding plants and bring out hanging baskets and planters.

Roses will start blooming this month. Large flowered hybrid tea or bush roses will benefit from being disbudded. This is the removal of the small buds which cluster around the main bud. Their removal ensures high quality individual blossoms.

Plant out dahlias, providing a strong stake for each plant.

Mid-season and late flowering chrysanthemums growing in pots should be brought out for the summer months.

Any spring flowering bulbs that require transplanting should be dug up o­nce the foliage has faded, but before it has died off completely. Do not dry off the bulbs, but replant immediately.

Prune spring flowering shrubs that have finished blossoming during the early part of the month.

Sow wallflowers, polyanthus and forget-me-nots for next season's spring display.

VEGETABLES

Dry the foliage of herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage for winter use.

Plant outdoor tomatoes outside early in the month. Ensure that they have a richly organic soil and a sheltered position in the full sun.

Make the final sowing of peas and the first sowing of Chinese cabbage.

Plant out winter cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts and savoy cabbages.

Reduce the activities of blackfly by removing the growing points of broad beans.

FRUIT

The strawberry harvest is in full swing. Ensure that the plants are strawed around and securely netted to prevent the activities of birds.

Summer prune plums, cherries and peaches as well as trained apples and pears.

GREENHOUSE

Give pot plants such as Christmas azaleas a rest by placing them outside in a partially shaded place for the summer months. Keep well watered.

Cut poinsettias back to within a few cms of the base and re-pot. They will then produce good vigorous growth for Christmas flowering.

Remove any male flowers from cucumbers to prevent fertilization. Male flowers have no baby cucumber behind them. When fruit have set, pinch out lateral shoots two leaves past the embryo fruit.

Take great care with watering, "damping down", shading and ventilation.

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