Printemps ou Spring Time
Spring tips – March
Printemps or Spring time? Whatever your preference, there is no mistaking that the Limousin gardeners, are about to embark on the busiest time of the year. As we know springtime is the key time for defining how we want our garden to be over the coming and future years.
There are three months in spring, March, April and May with each and every month having unique aspects with procedures that need to be followed to achieve the best results.
What we reap (be it flowers or food) will be based on what we want, when to do it, how we do it and how much time we are prepared to dedicate to our garden.
Alright, you have made all your plans – what is going to go where in the garden this year………… haven’t you?
If you havent made plans, do not panic for the following reason.
Frequently at this time of year we are tempted and even compelled into rushing into garden centres and spending in a manner akin to a RBS banker lending money. Like them we end up spending a lot of money on unwise investments, for the gardener, that equates to dead plants or ones that do not perform to their true potential. So this year, DON’T DO IT, wait, plan and save your money.
Planning really is crucial to success, take your time and determine what you want to achieve and thus what you need to plant where.
Take a fresh look at your garden,
Where does the sunshine at each time of the day and at different times of the year?
What is the soil type (alkaline, acid or loam)
Where do you want to plant?
Is that area wet or dry?
Are there any gaps that you would like to fill?
With a little bit of research and an investment in a soil test kits, you will have the basic information you need to purchase wisely. You will be able to buy a plant suitable for the area, one that will, hopefully, go on to thrive. Instead of buying something that looks nice but in reality is totally unsuitable and will doomed to fail.
Do not be fooled by the “oh just plant it and it will grow” school of thought, whilst this may often be the case, a recent client of mine had spent over €2000 on plants when creating their garden but due to a variety of factors, only a few sickly specimens remain.
If you have not got a garden diary then start one, it really is a useful tool. You can note the results of your tests, what you planted where, where you need more bulbs etc. A great source of reference in autumn when you are trying to remember where that gap in the daffodil bed was in spring.
All tools cleaned and sharpened and fit to do their required tasks.
Mower blades, these should have been sharpened when the mower had its last service. If not, get it done ASAP. Blunt blades can cause considerable damage to grass.
As when sharpening all tools, if you don’t know how to do it correctly. Let the professionals do it for your own safety.
Caring for your lawn
Lawn care is coming to the fore, now is a good time to re-seed any patches you are not happy with. Clear away any debris such as the remnants of organic manure and leaves.
Aerate your lawn and re fertilize it using a slow release product. The winter fertilizer did so much by feeding and protecting the grass during the winter, but it will not give it the boost it needs for fast springtime growth.
Clear boundaries and around fence posts of old dying grass. If you have no experience do not try using the burning method for this. A technique very popular with Limousin farmers recognizable by the blackened earth of field boundaries but inexperience could lead to the fire getting out of hand, think fines, court appearances or worse!
Cut in new edges on your lawn or repair existing edges.
Cut your grass when it reaches 3 inches (YES I KNOW). In many cases your grass will be never less than 3 inches at this time of year. Therefore cut it at least twice if not three times or more, slowly removing the length, don’t go ‘gung ho’ and try to do it all in one mow. Aim for a weather space (If it allows) of two dry days followed by a day of no frost and cut on the 2nd day.
If you do not have a well, invest in a water or rain butt and collect the rain water for further use.
Get seedlings underway, but, keep an eye on that weather forecast if planting direct to the soil. A severe late frost regularly arrives in Limousin and can rapidly decimate your efforts.
Play safe is the golden rule; keep them safe until you are confident it is time to transfer to pot or ground.
Now is a good time to plant new plants and move existing ones. If you are concerned about a late frost, it may be prudent to put a layer of polystyrene (1 to 2 cm thick) on top of the roots and between the plant bases, then cover with soil. Remember to water around the polystyrene. The polystyrene can always be moved at a later date, or, if you are happy with the results, leave it for added protection for next winter.
If not yet done, it may be too late, get the right advice before you potentially damage that tree or plant.
Roses, repeat-flowering varieties, have a look and see if they need a prune. If yes do it and remove any dead wood that may need removing.
Old hedges may need a hard pruning to revitalise and encourage new growth for the coming season.
Also consider pruning fruit trees and / or bushes if not done so and if time allows.
We all know this one, dig, dig, dig until your hands are sore and your back hurts is what we usually do. Don’t, pain is the bodies way of letting you know something is wrong. Take your time (you are supposed to be enjoying this) and do only what you can or want to do. Look at renting, buying or borrowing items such as rotovators, anything that will make hard work easier for you. This will help you get far more pleasure from your garden by removing some of the more back breaking tasks. When preparing beds, mix fertilizer or compost in with the soil and at the same time ensure you remove all of the weeds, they grow quickly as well at this time of year.
The flowering of early spring bulbs is a welcome site and the cut flowers make a lovely cheery addition to the home but if you opt to leave the blooms in situ remember to dead head. Do this as soon as possible so that none of the essential nutrients are wasted trying to feed a dead flower and are instead used to feed the bulb.
Extra bits and a word of warning
Very soon we will be blighted by the limace (excuse the lack of a Latin description). These creatures are slugs of a hideous nature. They are orange or orangey brown in colour and come in all sizes, but, if yours are like mine its mainly BIG. Big means one thing, they eat a lot, mainly our plants.
Now after a lengthy discussion with my French neighbour about this subject, I was given this tip. It seems the cheapest and most effective as well as organic method of keeping the limace at bay, is to place cold wood ash from your log burner around the base of your plants. I had heard of this in the UK. But I have never used it; please let me know your results.
Many of us may have barns, old outbuildings, even new outbuildings and sheds. If like us you generally use these building for storage over the winter months, do be very careful when you are searching through for your seed boxes or other apparel. It may be and I stress may be that some form of wildlife may of taken up hibernation in some warm corner….
March is basically tidy up, catch up and prepare to forward march (no pun intended).
Article kindly provided by Mark from Oak Garden Services
You can contact Mark directly if you would like more information on gardening or the services they offer
Tel: 05 55 98 62 03
Email: [email protected]