We have recruited the help of gardening expert and all-round allotment enthusiast Katie Lane, from the wonderful Lavender & Leeks blog, to give us her green fingered guide to home grown gardening for 2017.
There is no rest for a gardener, not even in Winter. The days are shorter and colder and the list of jobs are starting to pile up. However this just so happens to be the most exciting time of the year, the time when all your dreams are sown…
Spring is just around the corner and like me, you’re all probably very excited and eager to get started with the growing year. One thing I will say is try not to give into the temptation of sowing seeds far too early. The last actual frost date in the UK is usually around May so be careful and prepared for any last minute cold spells which might destroy all your hard work. This would ultimately put a big set back into your growing year due to the need to start over again. So simply research the seeds that you will be growing this year, keep checking on the weather and hold on just a little bit longer, even though it’s hard!
One of the first things I love doing at this time of the year is planning. I plan what seeds I’ll be growing, the layout of my garden and all the structural jobs that need doing. Then of course comes the seed buying and the all important potatoes. I tend to buy my seed potatoes around the middle of February and then leave them in a seed tray to chit until St Patricks day when I plant them out into trenches. I also like to start my sweet peas off at the beginning of February and around the same time I sow my leeks, start my onion sets in the greenhouse and this year I’ll be giving peppers a go too… Have I mentioned that I love this time of year?
Your essential check list:
Seeds to sow inside:
- Early Brassicas
- Sweet Peppers
- Peas (in guttering)
- Sweet Peas
Seeds to sow under cloches:
- Spring Onions
- Broad Beans
Things to plant outdoors (as long as the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged):
- Raspberry Canes
- Fruit Trees
Other jobs to consider:
- Plan your allotment or garden and start sorting through your seeds. Keep an eye out for bargains in the garden centres!
- Spread well rotted manure onto your vegetable beds and around fruit bushes. This will release nutrients back into the soil and improve structure.
- Net fruit crops ready for Summer crops.
- Prune fruit trees and soft fruit bushes.
- Prune perennial flowers and roses.
- Prune Autumn fruiting raspberries by cutting the canes that bore fruit last year to ground level.
- Divide herbaceous perennials and rhubarb crowns to avoid over crowding and to keep plants healthy.
- Start thinking about the wildlife that will be visiting your garden by putting up bee hotels and bird boxes.
- Regularly clean your ponds, removing any leaves or debris.
- Warm the soil by using cloches to get a head start with sowing seeds outdoors. This will improve the germination success rate. (http://www.lavenderandleeks.co.uk/shop/grow/clocheborder-hoops/)
- Force established rhubarb by placing a bucket, pot or a rhubarb forcer over the crowns. However, this can only be done every other year on established crowns otherwise they will be weakened.
- Start chitting potatoes ready to be planted out in 6-7 weeks time. Simply place in a tray or old egg box and leave in sheltered spot with plenty of natural light.