Starting garden notes
Feeding your plants
Late January into February is the best time to feed you plants with some Growmore fertilizer. The last of the heavy winter rains will wash the nutrients into the soil ready for the plants to use in the spring.
For general feeding, we recommend feeding with Growmore fertiliser once a year either spring or autumn approximately one handful per square metre of soil or surface area of a container or pot. Growmore can be watered in or will be washed in by the rain. Growmore is a granular fertilizer so will bounce off the plant’s leaves, as it is spread and washed through weed sheeting and mulch layers around your plants.
You need to apply one handful per square metre sprinkled on your borders and/or lawn.
Growmore is a low nitrate plant food which should not produce too much green growth but will add flower and fruit production. In cases where we wish to produce green growth for example when we prune down overgrown plants we normally feed with an additional feed of Miracle-Gro fertilizer in the spring which is a high nitrate feed producing lots of additional stems and leaf growth.
Ideally, after the initial feed, you need to feed your plants every 4 to 6 week from March until the end of October your plants need to be fed with liquid tomato feed which contains high levels of potash.
Some plants that require acidic soil conditions will require specialist feeds to help maintain the correct conditions in the soil.
Weedkiller spot treatments
Weeds such as the brambles, bindweed growing in your shrubs, early spring is a good time to treat them with Roundup weed killer either in the gel form or with a small hand sprayer. The Roundup weed killer will travel through the leaves and enter the stems and travel in the plants causing them to outgrow themselves and die. Roundup weed killer acts on the green areas of a plant so care must be taken not to touch any other green plants i.e your garden plants. Best used in the early spring when a lot of the shrubs are dormant with no leaves.
Ideally you need to treat 25 percent of the leaves of the weeds.
Ideally, the Roundup weed killer must be applied on a dry day allowing 4 hours for the chemical to dry on the leaves. After 4 hours or once dry Roundup weed killer is safe for pets and children. It takes around 4 weeks to show any effects which are normally shown as an increased growth rate of the weeds followed by the death of the weeds. With Brambles and bindweed, it will take 2 to 3 applications over 6 weeks to be effective.
Feeding and improving your lawn
Spring or autumn are the best times to start to improve your lawn.
First, start by spiking with a lawn spiker or a fork. If your lawn is an average size it’s often best to spend a bit of time and effort to spike the lawn with a garden fork. Pushing the fork in as far as it will go and then slightly pulling back to create some deep holes in the lawn. The fertilizer the lawn with some Growmore fertilizer about a handful per metre. Next, the rain or you watering the lawn will wash the fertilizer down the holes. Until the fertilizer is washed down into the holes do not mow your lawn.
This action of spiking and feeding will produce a deeper-rooted lawn as the roots grow down the side of the holes created by the spiking to reach the fertilizer you applied.
Lawn with a wet surface
Unless your garden suffers from a drainage problem a wet lawn is likely to be caused by a heavy clay soil or a solid layer of soil-forming a pan or imperious layer 100 to 150mm down in the soil.
First dig down in a small section of the lawn to check the soil has not formed an impervious layer. If it has you will be able to see the pan in the soil and the soil below the plan will be dry and crumbly.
If the wet surface is not caused by a pan or imperious layer this can be cured by applying dressings of sand over the lawn using a shovel or spade and brushing it into the surface of the lawn to build up a sand carpet at the base of the grass plants. This will create a surface that’s freely drained.
The 2 keys are to firstly apply sand which is made of particles of a similar size such as a kiln dried sand used for block paving or sand used for a child’s play sandpit. Standard building sand used for laying bricks etc will have particles that are all different sizes and so it is not suitable because it creates a solid mass with few air spaces.
Secondly, apply the sand so it does not smoother the grass totally so that the grass will recover and grow through the newly applied sand carpet. Ideally, you need to apply 4 applications of sand over 3 to 6 months. Ideally, you are aiming to create a sand carpet at the base of the grass plants 15mm to 25mm in depth.
Sand can normally be purchased in 800KG bags delivered to your home address by your local builder’s merchant. Here is a link
Your GardenAdvice garden advisor will help you find a local supplier.
Planting espalier and fan trained fruit trees
Late winter is the best time to plant fruit trees using bare-rooted plants harvested by the growers directly from the fields they are grown in.
Plants grown in pots which are found in garden centres later in the year tend not to be of such good quality.
The advantage of growing fruit trees as an espalier and fan shape is that the plant produces a lot more fruit in a small area due to the increased number of fruiting spurs and buds created on each stem that’s trained.
To grow fruit trees in pots or containers we recommend using a soil-based compost called John Innes number 2 John Innes number 2
Plants that can be trained as espalier and fan or are available as instant fan trained shapes are.
One other advantage of growing espalier and fan trained fruit trees is that they are easy to net later in the year to protect the fruit from birds as it ripens.
Secure your plants on walls and fences
To secure plants to a wall or a fence etc we use a system of wires which we have found to be long lasting tidy and not expensive here is some links