March is upon us and garden fever is just about to begin. March is the month where temperatures rise, plants begin to bud, the long evenings are arriving and our general enthusiasm to get out and about increases. The end of March is a time for bare root planting of trees and shrubs to come to an end. So if you wish to avail of these plants, you better get cracking. Wait until the end of March/early April to feed all your trees and shrubs, hedging, etc with a general feed of 7:6:17, at a rate of 2 ozs. to each plant, or feed with any tree or shrub fertiliser. Re-stake and tie trees that have been damaged by the winds of recent weeks.
You will find you have to start cutting the lawns soon, but start at a fairly high cut. Leave the feeding and weed control of your lawn until the end of March/early April. I recommend the Golden Vale 3:1 mixture. It feeds your lawn, it has two different weedkillers, to kill any weeds in the lawn and has sulphate of iron, which kills the moss and gives the lawn its deep green colour. If you have a bad moss problem hire a scarifier blade for your mower and use it on the lawn, then apply some kind of moss control chemical.
In the vegetable garden, you can start now by planting your seed potatoes or sprouting them for planting. Get your sets and shallots for planting and later on have your seeds for sowing direct, parsnips, carrots, onions, sprouts, cabbage, etc. You can also start planting your fruit garden now, pears, apple trees, all soft fruit such as raspberries, gooseberries, black-currants, etc. If you have not already fed your fruit trees and bushes with sulphate of potash, do so now. Also Suttons seeds have a new variety of carrot called Parano which has shown very good tolerance to carrot fly attack, good news for those who have a problem with it.
If you have a greenhouse you can start your seed for bedding plants now and plants such as peppers, etc.
You can still brighten up the garden with some colour from winter pansies and polyanthus. Also, anyone intending on moving plants around the garden should do so now, as in another three weeks it will be too late. When lifting plants get as much of a root-ball as possible.
The following questions were asked of me lately and the answers are as follows:
Q. My hostas have got very big and taken over an area as have my daffodils. The daffodils flowered poorly, what is wrong?
A. Hostas like any herbaceous perrenials multiply themselves and will cover any new ground. It is necessary to divide these plants every so often. It is best done at the end of October/November while you can still see the growth before the frost gets it. Lift the plant with a fork and use the fork or two forks to prise the plant apart into different pieces and plant these out again.
Daffodils also multiply, sometimes by up to 40% every year. Sometimes they get so knitted together in the soil that they don’t thrive or flower poorly. You must also lift these and divide the bulbs and plant out fresh again.
Q. How do I change the colour of my hydrangeas?
A. The colour of your hydrangeas depends on the type of soil you are on. On very peaty soils or acidic soils, blue varieties will thrive or pink or red varieties will change to a bland pinky blue colour. On limestone land or land with a high lime content, the pinks or red thrive and blue varieties will go to a pinky colour. You can change hydrangeas from pink to blue by adding salts of aluminium which come in different brands or packages. Using rusty nails can work; it is not always successful.
Q. When do I prune a badly overgrown shrub and how?
A. To do this you may need a saw or good secateurs. You must cut the plant almost back to ground level, i.e. 6″ or so. This is best done in March/April as the plant will put out new growth very quickly afterwards. There is no need to paint over the cut wounds with anything. Most plants will tolerate this type of pruning but if you are in doubt, get advice. Another factor to remember is that, you wil forego flowers on the plant for a year or two after with severe pruning like this.
That’s it for now, happy gardening.
Bosco McDermott, Jnr.,
Glynn’s Garden Centre, Lydican.