March April Gardener

MARCH –SPRING GARDENER 2019 .

USA CANADA AND EU VIEWERS WELCOME FROM SEVERE WINTER !

Spring flowering Iris -sibirica

This month can be one of the most exciting of the year, allowing us at last to get back into the garden. I recommend looking at the small, easy to use, RHS books U K covering the seasons:  “Gardening Month by Month” and “What Plant Where, What Plant When” as invaluable reminders of the many things to do.

 

Get organised

Hellebore x hybridus maintains its colour better over time .

Make a list of the many things you need to do and in what order!   Maintenance of tools and equipment, shed and greenhouse clearance. Stock up on plant feeds, especially liquid ericaceous required NOW for budding Magnolias, Heathers, Camellias, Rhododendrons and Azaleas, Pieris and Enkianthus which will soon be flowering raising a spring smile on our wintry faces. Later flowering plants will appreciate some slow release granules as the climate warms towards late Spring.  This will release valued NPK nutrients boosting strength and flowering.

 

Just a bit of time spent having a god look around may give you much needed input and ideas for the season ahead.  Possibly a new flower or raised bed, additional containers (excellent for a herb collection), hanging baskets or just boldly removing any old tired plants.  Choose some fresh exciting shrubs, perennials or annuals – plant hardy annual seeds now in small pots .   Look at some summer garden pictures and decide where and what you want your plants to do for you!  Pen a rough diagram marking sunny and shady areas and enjoy looking for plants you fancy in terms of maintenance, length of flowering, foliage, fragrance, climbing, ground-cover.

Editor testing soil with simple inexpensive soil testing meter .Checking pH ,general fertility ,moisture .Vital indicators .

Tests bottles with soil sample and distilled water and analyser Soil is shaken up in jar and settles and separates heavy and light soil particles.

Useful soil testing 4 way analyser inexpensive test meter .

Soil

Its easy to forget your all important soil. A tidy up after winter is the obvious place to start. Soil requires quite a bit of TLC such as aerating for root respiration, making a huge impact on plant growth.  A light raking over is best, not digging.   Add a mulch in April to maintain moisture and important suppress weeds that can’t wait to annoy us. It works .

A mixture of topsoil and compost is best to obtain that ideal crumbly loam. If growing vegetables adding manure is important except for the leguminous (pea family) that has built in nitrogen nodules in the roots.   Adding organic fertilisers, fish blood and bone, or pelleted chicken manure is important now as heavy winter and spring rains can leach out nutrients very easily.  Soil is used up every year and needs to be replenished gradually.  Seaweed will especially help boost plant hormone systems that can make a very great improvement to performance.

AN EXAMPLE OF A WELL PRUNED EARLY SPRING CLEMATIS THAT LOOKED LIKE A WOOL BALL OF BROWN STEMS BEFORE PRUNING

 

Pruning

Shrubs will need some pruning, but take care cutting into old wood, it may not be necessary and it can cut off the vascular system and kill the plant!  Usually cutting lateral stems to two or three buds will suffice.  Vertical stems will depend mainly on how much height is required.

 

Woody climbers such as clematis ,if flowering before July can be lightly and carefully pruned to preferred size but late flowering climbers rely on new annual growth which being straggly now can be cut hard back to ground level.

Most vigorous climbers can be cut back hard and will respond with vigorous growth!

 

Prune Rose bushes 2/3 inches below last year’s growth.  Shrub roses can just be trimmed of last year’s hips, and  large shrub roses can get congested  so to allow air circulation lightly cut back two or three older stems to the base and thin out surplus central stems. Climbing roses  will require more moderate pruning to suit the situation.

 

Wildlife will require additional feeding support.  Don’t forget ground feeding birds such as blackbirds, thrushes and robins they like bits of fruit as well.  Building nests will be a top priority so are we which can cause severe problems.  Thick conifers and hedges are also an ideal choice for birds.

Endangered UK Water Vole 2017 pic taken in N Somerset

Next month April we should be in full swing so let’s hope the weather comes on side.

 

Enjoy the start of the early Spring, you deserve a garden break.

 

Tony Arnold MCIHort.

Author Science for the Gardener 

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USA CANADA YOU ARE VERY WELCOME TO SCIENCE FOR THE GARDENER WEBSITE AND ANY COMMENTS ON CONTACT OR F BOOK ESPECIALLY ON CLIMATE CHANGE GARDENING .SCIENCE FOR THE GARDENER BOOK IS GOING WELL IN N AMERICA ESP CALIFORNIA -WEST COAST AND N YORK DISTRICTS .SOME AREAS OF CANADA STILL PROBABLY VERY COLD !

BEST WISHES 

TONY ARNOLD 

AUTHOR AND EDITOR OF WEBSITE 

February -March Gardener

 TO USA AND CANADA GARDENERS WELCOME TO THE MANY MORE VIEWER VISITS  WERE HAVING  FROM ‘OVER THE POND ‘ FROM USA MAINLY CALIFORNIA AND WEST COAST TO NEW YORK AND EAST COAST 

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND  GARDENERS WELCOME WHERE I RECENTLY VISITED ALL GARDENERS COULD MAKE VALUABLE GARDENING COMMENTS ON CLIMATIC CHANGE EFFECTS ON  PLANTING . ITS VERY HOT SUMMER IN OCEANIA NOW FEB IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE .

WE WOULD ALSO LIKE MORE CONTACT FROM CANADA ,SO FAR A  FEW FROM QUEBEC SO MOST WELCOME. YES CANADA AND USA  IS PRETTY COLD AND SNOWY AT PRESENT IN  FEBRUARY BUT HOW AND  WHAT DO YOU PLANT BEST IN SPRING SUMMER AFTER THE SNOW HAS GONE !.

YES YOU ALL HAVE  DIFFERENT CLIMATES COMPARED TO US IN THE UK BUT I WAS REALLY SURPRISED TO HEAR THAT GARDENING IS THE SECOND  FAVORITE PAST TIME IN N AMERICA . IVE ADDED THIS COMMENT TO  MY TEC FACEBOOK SO FOLK CAN RESPOND IF THIS IS IN DEED THE CASE .DO LET US KNOW HOW YOU COPE WITH PLANTING WITH SEVERE SUMMER HEAT AND WINTER MINUS TEMPERATURES AND HEAVY SNOW .

  RESPONSES  VERY WELCOME USING OUR E MAIL CONTACT PAGE OR  TECH FACEBOOK SCIENCE FOR THE GARDENER   HOME PAGE LINK  ‘CLICK ON HERE ‘ SEE BELOW FOR THE LINK .

I lOOK FORWARD TO HEARING ANY COMMENTS  AND ANY PLANT PICS IN DIFFICULT CLIMATE  PLANTING CONDITIONS . I  MAY START A NEW PAGE ON CLIMATE CHANGE FOR GARDENING COMMENTS ! COULD BE USEFUL FOR US ALL PERHAPS .?

TONY ARNOLD   EDITOR AND AUTHOR THE BOOK SCIENCE FOR THE GARDENER

Superb NEW ZEALAND CHRISTMAS TREE Metersideros -pohutukawa (Myrtaceae)

 

FEB 2017 NEW ZEALAND HOT STUFF ROTARUA. EDITORS RECENT VISIT BIT TOO HOT FOR GARDENING BUT THERE ARE COOLER PLACES TO PLANT IN NZ.

UK DOES GET SNOW IN FEB BUT IT DOESNT LAST LONG COMPARED WITH NORTH AMERICA USA AND CANADA which has very heavy and longer snow fall.

 

MARCH  –SPRING GARDENER UK 

 

This season can be one of the most exciting of the year, allowing us at last to get back into the garden  I recommend looking at the small, easy to use books covering the seasons:  UK Clocks go forward end of March Sat 30th .

 

Get organised

Make a list of the many things you need to do and in what order!   Maintenance of tools and mowing equipment, shed and greenhouse clearance. Stock up on plant feeds, especially liquid ericaceous required NOW for budding Magnolias, Heathers, Camellias, Rhododendrons and Azaleas, Pieris and Enkianthus which will soon be flowering raising a spring smile on our wintry faces. Later flowering plants will appreciate some slow release granules as the climate warms towards late Spring.  This will release valued NPK nutrients in to the soil boosting strength and flowering.

CHECK EQUIPMENT OVER WINTER

 

May I suggest a bit of time spent having a good look around with a pen and notebook as your garden may give you much needed input and ideas for the season ahead.  Possibly some new plants  or a raised bed, additional containers (excellent for a herb collection), hanging baskets or just boldly removing any old tired plants.  Choose some fresh exciting shrubs, perennials or annuals – plant hardy annual seeds now in small pots .   Look at some summer garden pictures in books and garden magazines  and decide where and what you want your plants to do for you!  Pen a rough diagram indicating  sunny, shady and difficult areas and enjoy looking for plants you fancy in terms of maintenance, length of flowering, foliage, fragrance, climbing, ground-cover. Its worth spending the time especially in early spring before the garden goes in to top gear !.

EDITOR SOIL TESTING DURING V HOT 34 UK SUMMER 2018 UK

Soil

Its easy to forget your all important soil out of site out of mind . A tidy up after winter is the obvious place to start. Soil requires considerable  TLC such as aerating for root respiration and movement making a huge impact on plant growth.  A light raking over is best, not digging.   Add plentiful  mulch in April to maintain moisture and important suppress weeds that can’t wait to annoy us. It works especially if we have another severely hot summer that causes hardening of the soil as it dries out. Mulching can be vital to protect the soil in these conditions ..Grass may be  burnt but will eventually recover with watering.

 

A mixture of topsoil and compost is best to obtain that ideal crumbly loam especially if sandy . If growing vegetables adding manure and lime is important except for the leguminous (pea family) that has built in nitrogen nodules in the roots.   Adding organic fertilisers, fish blood and bone, or pelleted chicken manure is important now as heavy winter and spring rains can leach out nutrients very easily.  Soil is used up every year and needs to be replenished gradually.  Seaweed will especially help boost plant hormone systems that can make a very great improvement to performance.

CARE WITH PRUNING .AVOID CUTTING FLOWER BUDS AND CUTTING IN TO OLD WOOD WHICH WONT REGENERATE !

 

Pruning

Shrubs will need some pruning, but take care cutting into old wood, it may not be necessary and it can cut off the vascular system and kill the plant eg Lavender .  Usually cutting lateral stems to two or three buds will suffice or last years flowering stems .  Vertical stems will depend mainly on how much height is required.

 

Woody clematis  if flowering before July can be lightly and carefully pruned to preferred size but late flowering clematis relies on new annual growth which being straggly now can be cut hard back to ground level.

Most vigorous climbers such as Lonicera –honeysuckle  can be cut back hard and will respond with vigorous growth!

 

Prune Rose bushes 2/3 inches below last year’s growth.  Shrub roses can just be trimmed of last year’s hips, and  large shrub roses can get congested  so to allow air circulation lightly cut back two or three older stems to the base and thin out surplus central stems. Climbing roses  will require more moderate pruning to suit the situation 

 

 

Wildlife will require additional feeding support.  Don’t forget ground feeding birds such as blackbirds, thrushes and robins they like bits of fruit as well.  Building nests will be a top priority so are we which can cause severe problems.  Thick conifers and hedges are also an ideal choice for birds.

Next month April we should be in full swing so let’s hope the weather comes on side.

 

Enjoy the start of the early Spring, you deserve that  garden break.

 

Tony Arnold MCIHort. Author Science for the Gardener

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TO ALL GARDENERS HORTICULTURISTS and ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE RESEARCHERS

BEST WISHES for 2019 and lets hope the year  will bring the positive advances to our precious planet earth with more sustainable growing Plastic pollution needs to be  drastically reduced and most important cleared up into useful reusable products .Lets at least start to clear up our marine coasts and rivers,lakes ,streams  and seas of plastic pollution and  particularly small and tiny plastic particles and fibres that can both it appears migrate into the human and animal digestive system .Intelligent scientific and technology research into improving the environment is required for the long term. United Nations is on to the case of marine pollution so lets all do our bit as best we can following results of this on going research into genuine United Nation approved recyclable properties of man made materials .There’s lots of studies to be looked at to gain control of carbon emissions in parts per million reduction stats so lets wish and hope the United Nations International Climate change conference in Poland -Katovice  , can translate into acceptance and action by all the main responsible countries and especially the world leaders in science ,technology ,engineering and horticulture.The new younger generations of trained scientists and professionals need to pick up this planet ball and run with it urgently .

Best wishes to you all and to our Planet for 2019

Tony Arnold MCIHort

Editor

www.Science for the Gardener .com

Author

Science for the Gardener Book

December -January Gardener

December -January 2018 Gardener

 

Tony ArnoldMCIHORT www.scienceforthegardener.com

Author Scienceforthe Gardener

Secondary science recourse for RHS School gardening

Planning and refreshing – the exciting year ahead for your garden

 

How content and happy are you with your garden?  What do you really want to achieve? Will a simple plan enable you to make changes and improvements and provide interesting ideas for thought and discussion? Was last year’s gardening experience up to your expectation?  What plants did you enjoy looking at?  Try and make a list looking back to those warmer months.  Can you remember ideas you thought might motivate you to make those exciting changes you always wanted to?  It’s not too late to make decisions for the coming gardening year so grab a pencil and paper and make a start.

 

List any structural and planting changes you’d like.  Do you want to create more space?  Do some raised beds need adding?   Especially useful if growing tap root vegetables, the Umbelliferae (parsley) family eg carrots, parsnips, celery etc require depth which also helps to stop that surface resident the dreaded carrot fly. Drainage also improves hugely with a raised bed and you can add attractive and fragrant companion annual plants such as tagetes (marigolds) that many vegetable pests hate.  Yes it does work!!

 

Be bold – get rid of poor and unsightly shrubs and plants that no longer contribute to your garden enjoyment.  Add fragrance and attractive foliage and more colourful longer flowering spring and summer species.  It’s worth having a look in a garden book/website/garden centres for ideas. The RHS website is helpful in describing a plant’s horticultural requirements. Spend time double checking plant labels to assist your planting decisions.  ‘Buy me plant me now’ – garden centres can offer an instant seasonal pick-me-up plant for your gardens as well time to meet up with fellow gardeners to exchange ideas over a warming cuppa.

 

Quick planning priority list

 

Of vital importance your soil  – Acid, Alkali or Neutral – try to do a pH check with an inexpensive testing kit.  Take a small sample of soil, add some distilled water and shake then use the indicator to see what soil pH you have. If that’s a bit too time consuming look and see if you have acid loving (ericaceous) plants thriving such as Heather, Azaleas, Rhododendrons as that is a certain sign of a low pH acidic  soil . Is your soil sandy or clay or is it nice and mixed and crumbly?  Tip some into a jar and add water, shake up and you will see instantly the mixture you have stones, grit  and sand sinking and clay and silt particle high up with some organic (composts)  floating. Estimate visually your soil mixture.  The ideal loam soil is an even mixture of (inorganic-non living) clay, sand, and fine silt and 10%  (organic –living matter).

 

Add plenty of fresh organic matter (compost – manure – leaves or leaf mould)  your plants will soon respond as this creates fresh nutrients, holds moisture and restricts weeds effectively.  Some moderate slow release feeding will be welcome in March onwards, then moderate liquid feed when plants start to flower. Different vegetables will have their own feeding requirements, so do check first.

 

Plant for size, not just colour or fragrance  – consider height AND width, and, so often omitted, spread and space occupied in full bloom as well as light and air circulation.  Shrubs are small trees so plan and prune carefully.

 

Ground cover may also be just what you want in difficult planting areas.  Climbers should give great pleasure and lift colour up above all the other plants and can be used for covering up unsightly objects.

 

Containers can be used successfully for bulbs, summer flowering bedding plants and annuals as well as specimen standard shrubs.  Try some vegetables such as new potatoes in a deep container if you haven’t done so before, they taste superb. Containers can be moved around to achieve the best position, but do so before adding water as they become too heavy.  Keep them well watered during hot weather and add water crystals before going away.  They work well!!

 

What Action next

May I recommend spending a cold or gloomy day enjoying some relaxation and making a list of what improvements you would like to see.  Next month I will suggest some plants that may be worth looking up in books or electronically that may guide you and quick ways to improve different soil.

 

Enjoy January planning and look after our wildlife, two and four legged.

 

Tony Arnold MCIHort