#15greenmins – March

15mins-bulletYou can do anything for 15 minutes, and  jobs with this symbol can all be tackled 15 minutes at a time. (You’ll need a little longer for the others.) Below I’ve outlined the  jobs I’m  focusing on this month, and here’s a #15greenmins checklist that you can print out: March #15greenmins checklist

 In the flower garden

15mins-small‘Spring clean’ your borders
As your perennials and ornamental grasses begin to re-emerge, cut back dead foliage and remove weeds. If you turn a blind eye to ground elder, creeping buttercup, couch grass or nettles now, you’ll regret it later! If the soil is workable, add generous amounts of garden compost or well-rotted manure to add nutrients and improve water retention. To avoid a back-breaking session, choose your job (cutting, weeding or mulching) and tackle your borders 15 minutes at a time.

Spring clean herbaceous borders

Before and after – immensely satisfying!

15mins-smallProp up your perennials
Put herbaceous supports in as you tidy, so that your plants will grow through them. It’s a lot easier to do it now than when the plants have grown.

15mins-smallProtect young spring shoots from slugs and snails
Try nematode control for slugs; add copper rings around the tops of pots; use organic pellets judiciously and only as a last resort (I only use them in pots so I don’t poison any slugs or snails the hedgehogs might find). I’ve also found crushed-up egg shells do the trick (but others say it doesn’t work).

15mins-smallSprinkle granular fertilizer around clumps of spring bulbs
Apply a general-purpose fertiliser such as Growmore (35 grams per square metre) to borders to encourage bulbs to flower well. Use a liquid high-potassium feed (e.g. tomato fertilizer) in containers.

15mins-smallCut back Dogwood (Cornus) and Buddleia – hard 
A hard prune now to the base will produce spectacular new red Cornus stems for next winter and vigorous Buddleia growth for those summer displays.

15mins-smallTop dress containers with fresh compost
If you are not repotting, then remove about 5 cm (2 inches) of the old compost from the top of the pot and replace with fresh compost.

Plant snowdrops in the green
Snowdrops tend to do better if they are planted when still in leaf rather than as a dry bulb. Plant them ‘in the green’ now for a winter display next year. Lift and divide existing clumps when the flowers have died back to make more of these beautiful flowers for next year.

Plant snowdrops in the green

Plant snowdrops in the green

15mins-smallDeadhead bush hydrangeas
Prune weak stems to the ground and cut back spent flowers and stems by up to a third of last season’s growth. Poor or neglected plants can be  renovated by cutting  all the stems back to the base. You won’t get any flowers this summer but new stems will  bloom next year. Leave pruning of climbing hydrangeas until after they flower in the summer. 

15mins-smallCut the old leaves off Hellebores
Removing the dead leaves from Hellebores now, reduces the risk of foliage diseases and makes the flowers more visible.

Hellebores

Look after your hellebores for glorious early spring colour

15mins-smallDeadhead winter-flowering pansies
Stop them from setting seed, and encourage a new set of flowers.

15mins-smallPrune summer-flowering clematis
If you haven’t already, now is the time to prune summer-flowering clematis. Cut above a low pair of green buds.

15mins-smallSow flower seeds
Plan what you want to grow this summer and start sowing indoors now for planting out in June. Check the packets for best sowing times. I’m sowing marigolds (own seed), Coreopsis and Ageratum indoors this month.

15mins-smallPot on over-wintered cuttings
Pot on rooted cuttings of tender perennials taken last year and over-wintered.

In the vegetable garden

15mins-smallPrepare vegetable seed beds
Remove weeds and top up raised beds with compost and/or good-quality top soil. Fork in plenty of garden compost or well-rotted manure. Cover prepared soil with a polythene sheet, cloches or (like me) black bin liners to keep the soil drier and warmer ready for planting.

15mins-smallSow vegetable seeds
Plan what you want to grow this year and start sowing tender vegetables indoors. Check the packets for best sowing times. I’m sowing winter brassicas, tomatoes and aubergines indoors this month.

In the fruit garden

15mins-smallCut autumn-fruiting raspberry canes
If, like me, you haven’t done this yet, don’t delay! Cut autumn-fruiting rasberry canes to the ground to stimulate new canes. You can also cut the tips of summer-fruiting raspberry canes now, just above a bud, if they have grown above your supports. This is also the time to plant new raspberry canes and blackberries.

Chop autumn-fruiting raspberry canes to the base

Get chopping!

15mins-smallFeed fruit trees and rhubarb
Mulch fruit trees with well-rotted manure or garden compost, but be careful not to mound the manure up around the trunk. Sprinkle a handful of potash fertilizer around the base too. Mulch rhubarb with a thick layer of well-rotted manure or garden compost but do not cover the crown. Now is also the time to plant new fruit trees or rhubarb crowns.

15mins-smallProtect soft fruit blossoms
Cover soft fruit trees (peach, nectarine, apricot etc.) with fleece if frost is forecast

Other jobs

Mow the lawn
After such a harsh winter your lawn may not need it yet, but if it gets going then now is the time for an early first cut. Wait for a dry day and set the blades on your mower high. Cut the lawn edges if they’ve become overgrown.

15mins-smallVentilate greenhouses and cold frames
On warmer days open up the greenhouse and cold frame to prevent build up of mildew and other nasties.

Scrub or pressure wash the patio
Get rid of those slimey patches on patios and paths either by scrubbing with a broom and some soapy water, or blasting with a pressure washer. Be careful you don’t blast all your grouting out as well!

15mins-smallStart feeding the fish
If the water temperature is over 4 degrees C (mine isn’t yet) then you can start feeding wheatgerm pellets now, but you need to wait until the water is over 10 degrees before giving them the ‘good stuff’ – for more information see Fish feeding tips.

15mins-smallKeep feeding the birds
Although the temperatures are starting to climb now, we’re still getting plenty of chilly weather and birds are expending even more energy as they pair up and prepare to nest. So top up the bird tables and feeders.

Blue tit on nuts

Keep topping up those feeders

 

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