Spring has arrived, so get in your garden
After a few weeks of heavy snow, it seems that the winter weather has finally lifted and spring has arrived. The official first day of spring was Tuesday March 20th, but lighter mornings and longer evenings have been evident for a little while now.
What's more, the first few daffodils have begun to crop up, so if you're green-fingered yourself, it's time to get working on your garden for the new season.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) offers handy guides for exactly which tasks you need to be doing in your garden each month, and March is a particularly lovely time, as it's all about nurturing buds and preparing for the year ahead.
Here are a few of the jobs you should be doing in your garden this month:
Mow the lawn for the first time this season
One of the first tasks to tackle in your garden after you've neglected it a little over the winter months is mowing the lawn. While this will be a fortnightly or even weekly job during the summer, that first spring trim will take a little more work.
Wait for a fresh but dry day to give your grass its first cut of the season, using the highest setting on your lawn mower. You'll then be able to turn down this setting for subsequent mows.
Start using a lawn fertiliser in March and into April too, to feed your grass and make sure it's looking lovely and lush and healthy by the time summer comes around. If your grass needs a little extra help, keep using a fertiliser over the next few months, but the RHS advises that you stop from the end of August to prevent any avoidable cold-weather damage to your lawn.
Plant bulbs for the summer
Now is also the time to begin planting any bulbs that you want to flower during the summer, such as tulips, lilies, crocuses and gladioli, to ensure that your garden is bursting with vibrant colours and smells come summertime.
Once you've planted your bulbs for the summer, remember to keep nurturing them over the coming weeks, watering them regularly and monitoring them for slugs.
Protect your shoots from slugs
Slime trails and damage to leaves are both signs that your spring shoots are being targeted by slugs. Protecting your plants from slugs can be a challenge though, as you don't necessarily want to harm the creatures, and you don't want to cover your plants in chemicals either.
However, there are a few chemical-free tactics that you can try to keep slugs at bay. Going out at night armed with a torch to manually pick up slugs and place them into a container is one way, but it is rather time-consuming and not especially pleasant. And then you also have the conundrum of deciding where to leave the slugs you've moved.
A much easier way to protect your plants from slugs is to place orange peel or the skin of a melon or grapefruit close to any shoots you want to safeguard. Slugs hate these fruits so won't go anywhere near them, and this should also be the case if you leave a jar filled with beer next to shoots.
The start of spring is also a good time to prune any roses in your garden so they have the best chance of blooming beautifully later on in the season.
The RHS stresses that you must use clean secateurs for this task, cutting the plants to an appropriate height so they are able to regrow healthily afterwards. Make sure that your cuts are no more than five millimetres above a bud, or it might not be able to grow as nicely as you'd like.
If you're replanting a rose bush or any individual plants, keep stems spaced well apart from each other so that plenty of air and nutrients can get to each flower.
Plant onions and potatoes for later in the year
Even though it's only just spring, you need to begin thinking as far ahead as autumn with your planting over the next few weeks. Shallots, onions and potatoes all need planting in March or April so they have plenty of time to grow over the summer ready for your autumn harvest.
Make sure you water these bulbs thoroughly at least once a fortnight right through the spring until the middle of the summer. After this time, your vegetables should be growing nicely enough to manage by themselves with help from natural rainfall.
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