Yesterday was St David’s Day and the first day of spring – so apart from a very cold week or so, that’s the winter done with, and the warmer sunny days are here to stay...
If only this were true!
If it were, gardening would be so much easier, knowing the date of the last frost. I reckon you could sell that information and make an absolute fortune.
But it is nice to be outside more and with plenty to do.
This time of year is really all about the daffodil – bright yellow always cheer ups the dullest March morning.
And the pots I tightly packed with Tête-à-tête daffs (pictured above) are coming along nicely and will soon burst into colour.
I also employed the same technique with tulip bulbs and they are showing themselves now too, and I’ll be replacing the daffodils next month.
And, of course, daff yellow takes over from the white of the snowdrops – and now is the time to improve next year’s snowdrop display.
As the flowers die back, take a spade and dig through a clump, being careful not to break too many roots (pictured below left).
Dig a full spade’s depth – this can then be further divided and planted back in the ground at the same depth.
Give them a bit of a water and leave them to it until next year.
This method is far more efficient and, in my opinion, gives better results next year, but you can prise each bulb from the clump and replant them individually.
But if you don’t fancy that procedure, but do fancy some snowdrops next spring, The Harrow is selling clumps outside the pub in aid of the Macmillan Trust.
I bumped into Claire McCutcheon of the family-owned pub in Harrow Lane while walking my dog. Did you know they raised about £10,000 for the Macmillan Trust last year by selling plants and flowers? What an amazing thing to do.
My manure heap has all but gone at the allotment. Someone asked me if it was well rotted and if it was, how did I know? Well, if you can’t smell the manure, that’s a good rule of thumb to it being well rotted.
You can put fresh manure on to your beds but it’s a bit smelly. If you are using fresh horse manure with wood shavings, the manure is okay but the wood shavings take nitrogen out of the soil when it breaks down.
This causes a nitrogen deficiency which can affect the growth of your crops of plants.
With things warming up slightly, you can start planting some seeds outside now such as broad beans, peas, leeks and parsnips.
When planting peas it’s a good idea to dig a trench, like you would for runners, and incorporate plenty of ‘well-rotted’ manure into the trench.
This will encourage the roots down into the nutrient-rich layer and produce strong, healthy plants and good crops.
I tend to leave my parsnips until the middle to the end of March as they are tricky things to germinate. And while they can germinate in colder temperatures, I like to give them a better chance in a few weeks.
Just a reminder about the seed swap on March 26 at 4pm at the Half Moon pub.
There are lots of people, clubs and societies interested, and if you want more details email [email protected]
By Steve Amos
Adhurst Estate Allotments Association