Top Jobs For July

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  1.  Check clematis for signs of clematis wilt.
  2.  Place conservatory plants outside now that it is warm.
  3.  Water tubs and new plants if dry, but be water wise.
  4.  Deadhead bedding plants and repeat flowering perennials, to ensure continuous flowering.
  5.  Pick courgettes before they become marrows, at this time of year just turn your back for a short while and that little courgette is worthy of entering into the Summer vegetable show as the largest marrow.
  6. Treat apple trees for apple scab.
  7. If you have a pond then now is the time to clear algae, blanket weed and debris from the pond and keep them topped up to maintain the water depth and oxygen levels.
  8. Give woodwork a lick of paint or preserver, whilst the weather is dry especially as most of us did not manage this last year due to the wet Summer.
  9. Give the lawn a quick acting summer feed, especially if a spring feed was not done this year due to the cold weather.
  10. Lastly order catalogues for next year’s Springs flowering bulbs.

Top Jobs For April

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  1. Still keep weeds under control as growth now should be rampant.
  2. Protect fruit blossom from late frosts.
  3. Tie in climbing and rambling roses.
  4. Sow hardy annuals and herb seed.
  5. Start to feed citrus plants.
  6. Increase the water given to houseplants.
  7. Feed hungry shrubs and roses.
  8. Sow new lawns or repair bare patches.
  9. If you have a small patch to replace try growing some lawn seed in a seed tray on compost and when the grass roots have knitted together and hold the compost, then it can be moved to its new position using the same techniques as for turfing. 
  10. Prune fig trees.
  11. Divide bamboos and water lilies.
  12. You can now start sowing hardy annuals, herbs and wild flower seed in situ outdoors.

Top Jobs For March

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  1. Plant shallots, onion sets and early potatoes.
  2. Protect new spring shoots from slugs.
  3. Plant summer flowering bulbs.
  4. Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials.
  5. Top dress containers with fresh compost.
  6. Mow the lawn on dry days if needed.
  7. Cut back Cornus (Dogwood) and Salix (Willow) so that the colourful stems will be produced for next winter.
  8. Prune winter flowering Jasmine once the flowers have faded.
  9. Sorry but you will need to start weeding now and get on top of them before they get out of hand.
  10. Start feeding fish and using the pond fountain and remove pond heaters as the very hard frosts should be over by now but the less hard frosts will still be around for a bit, keep an eye on the weather forecasts to decide when to remove the pond heater.
  11. Open the greenhouse or conservatory doors and vents on warm days.

How to make leaf mould

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When the leaves start to fall in Autumn and covering our grass ans pathways, it is the time to
collect and put them to good use. As leaves rotting down can take a longer period of time than all the other vegetation which we place on our compost heap, it makes sense to compost them separately.

To do this you collect them up and place them in either hessian sacks or plastic sacks. If using plastic sacks then once you have filled them up to about three quarters full and tie the tops. You then need to pierce plastic sacks with a garden fork to allow the contents to breath and rot down without becoming a
soggy mess.

If leaves are covering your lawn and you need to cut the grass then, if your lawn mower has a grass box you can just mow the lawn and put the mixed grass and trees leaves (which have been shredded by the mower) into the sacks as mentioned above. This mix of leaves and grass will rot down and still give you some good leaf mould to use in a year’s time as an additive to a planting hole or as a mulch around shrub or tree roots or as a general mulch for herbaceous perennials.

Bulbs for a table centre-piece in Spring

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An Article By Colin Hewitt

If you want an attractive table centre-piece for the Easter period then winter around November / December is the time to start planting. I generally grow a single species for maximum impact in a pan. A pan being a plant pot which is wider than it is tall.

For a table centre-piece you would want a pan about 10 inches wide and 4 inches deep. On the market now are some which are painted on the outside or you could choose a more traditional terracotta pan, whichever you choose make sure you have a pot saucer or dish to stand it on when it comes to be placed
on the table, this prevents damage to any furniture.

To create this container follow the steps detailed below:

  1. Choose your variety of bulbs; I use Tete-a-Tete or Minnow variety of daffodil whilst say for a tulip bowl you would need tulip species such as Tulipa Albion Star (White with a hint of pink), Bakeri Lilac Wonder (Pink with yellow at the base of the petals) or Buddy (White with a vertical red stripe, very striking in a pot en-mass) all are about 6 inches tall so will be in proportion to the pan they are grown in.
  2. Prepare the compost mix before planting; you can use proprietary mixes such as a bulb booster or a tub and container mix, these have feed in already and some will feed your bulbs for up to 6 months, check the details on the compost bag of your choice. Before you add it to the container I always break up any lumps that have formed during packing so that the bulbs are planted into a loose and friable mix.
  3. Next get your container and make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom as a bulbs worse enemy is waterlogged compost. Then I add about half an inch of horticultural grit across the bottom of the pan for drainage. This is used instead of the usual ‘crocks’ to get an even cover across the container which ‘crocks’ don’t always achieve.
  4. Half fill the pan with the compost and then place the bulbs evenly across the surface making sure they are about an inch to one and a half inches apart. Then carefully cover the bulbs with the rest of the compost mix so that the surface is about one inch below the rim. Next gently firm the surface and cover with either more horticultural grit to about half an inch below the rim or cover with sphagnum moss. This acts as a mulch to retain the moisture in the compost and prevent it drying out too quickly and it also stops the growing plants getting splashed with compost when watering.
  5. Lastly place the planted pan in a frost free area such as in a frost proof greenhouse or conservatory until it is ready for displaying on your table. Once the bulbs are showing leaf growth check the pan to see if it needs watering every few days, it should only need frequent watering once the display has been brought into the warmth of the house.

Top Jobs for June

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Top 10 jobs for June:

  • Hoe borders and vegetable plots regularly to keep down weeds.
  • Pinch out side-shoots on tomatoes. Now is the time to start harvesting lettuce, radish, other salads and early potatoes.
  • Position summer hanging baskets and containers outside.
  • Cut lawns at least once a week.
  • Plant out summer bedding.
  • Stake tall or floppy plants. And prune spring-flowering shrubs.
  • Shade greenhouses to keep them cool and prevent scorch.
  • Change the feed for pot-grown fruit to a high potassium liquid one.
  • Thin pears, plums, peaches, nectarines and apricots. Apples should be thinned at the end of the month after the natural June drop of fruitlets if there are too many fruitlets in each clump along the branches.
  • If you did not sow tomatoes, courgettes and pumpkins previously then towards the end of this month they can be sown outside in their final position.

Top Jobs for May

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Top 10 jobs for May:

  • Watch out for late frosts and protect tender plants.
  • Earth up potatoes, and promptly plant any still remaining.
  • Plant out summer bedding at the end of the month and hopefully there will be no more frosts from then onwards.
  • Regularly hoe off weeds.
  • Open greenhouse vents and doors on warm days.
  • Mow lawns weekly. Check for nesting birds before clipping hedges.
  • Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs.
  • Harden off young plants after all risk of frost has passed this month, plant out tomatoes, courgettes and pumpkins that were previously sown under cover. Other young plants can be planted out once conditions are suitable, and once they’ve been hardened off as well.
  • Pull off suckers appearing around the base of fruit trees then liquid feed any fruit trees growing in pots with a balanced feed every fortnight.
  • On fan-trained trees remove any wayward shoots and tie in better placed ones. Wayward shoots are those that are growing outwards away from the fan shape.

Top Jobs For February

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Top ten jobs for February.

  • Prepare vegetable seed beds, and sow some vegetables under cover.
  • Chit potato tubers. 
  • Still protect blossom on apricots, nectarines and peaches.
  • Net fruit and vegetable crops to keep the birds off.
  • Prune winter-flowering shrubs that have finished flowering.
  • Divide bulbs such as snowdrops, and plant those that need planting ‘in the green’.
  • Prune Wisteria
  • Prune hardy evergreen hedges and renovate overgrown deciduous hedges.
  • Cut back deciduous grasses left uncut over the winter.
  • Check your glasshouse insulation is still secure for the remainder of the cold weather.

Top Jobs For January

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Top jobs for January.  

  • Recycle your Christmas tree by shredding it for mulch.
  • Ventilate the greenhouse on sunny days.
  • Dig over any vacant plots that have not been dug already but only if the soil is in a good condition, i.e. No frost in the top inch of soil and not wet and sticky, especially as we have clay around here.
  • Repair and re-shape lawn edges.
  • Inspect stored tubers of Dahlia, Begonia and Canna for rots or drying out.
  • Prune apple and pear trees but not if the branches are frozen.
  • Start forcing rhubarb.
  • Plan your vegetable crop rotations for the coming season. 
  • Prepare a polythene shelter for outdoor peaches and nectarines, to protect them from peach leaf curl, especially if espaliered against a wall.
  • Monitor the water level of your pond, as hard frosts can cause defects in the liner and in concrete structures. If the water level drops considerably, then it may have developed a leak. Be sure to keep it topped up until repairs can be carried out in the spring.  
  • Rake out fallen leaves or shake off those that have gathered on protective netting.