Gardening with George

For the last few weeks gardeners have been faced with rain soaked lawns and gardens yet now the weather is warmer with some brighter days and lighter evenings, ideal for tackling some of those weeds or mowing the lawn.

When the rain does come it brings out what is possibly the gardener’s number one enemy, the slug. We need to be ready as immediately after the rain is the most effective time to apply the number one slug killer, pellets. Some gardeners use any of the numerous alternatives available but whichever is your choice you need to be vigilant, slugs can very quickly devour young plants; hostas being particularly vulnerable.

So what work needs doing in the garden now?

Roses. Finish pruning and spray fortnightly to control Black Spot. Water in a dry spell, especially if newly planted, and mulch with manure, compost or half an inch of grass cuttings.

Dahlias. Look after any that you have as they are expensive to buy. If you have tubers that are ready to plant out these will need to be protected from frost. You can increase your stock by carefully cutting tubers in half.

Lilies. Finish planting your bulbs and keep the beds weeded. Spray monthly with systemic spray to control virus-carrying aphids.

When the soil is dry and can be worked down into a fine tilth sow parsley and salad crops in the vegetable garden. Late summer cauliflower can be sown into a nursery bed for planting out next month. Sow the seeds half an inch deep in drills six inches apart. Peas of the seed-wrinkled type sown now should be ready for picking in twelve weeks. Main crop carrots should be sown in April/May and marrows, although perhaps not a very popular vegetable, should be sown in May. You don’t have to have an allotment to grow vegetables. In just a small area of your garden you can grow some lettuce or a few runner bean plants.

A raised bed is something a gardener may consider. You can easily buy raised beds which simply need screwing together but it’s far cheaper to make your own. The local wood yard has tanalised timber 9x1ins and two of these on edge will give space for 12 inches of soil. You can ask for the timber to be cut to the required length so will just need screwing together.

There is concern that butterflies and bees in particular are now a much less common sight in our gardens. Even the youngest gardener can do something to encourage butterflies into the garden. A packet of wildflower seeds can be purchased quite cheaply and sown into a variety of containers. An old Wellington boot or watering can, for example, make interesting planters.

Finally, watch out for late frosts. Some plants will be hardy enough to withstand these but others can easily be damaged and may need to be covered for protection.