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Jobs For March

Some handy tips for the month ahead...

Grow Your Own

Get Your Strawberries Now For A Summer Of Home Grown Pickings

The best approach to growing strawberries for pickings lasting from June till October is to plant 2 varieties such as Cambridge Favourite and Albion.

• Cambridge Favourite is a June bearer to give a heavy crop over around 3 weeks in June. Albion, an everbearer will give a steady supply of strawberries from July to October.
• Application of a tomato liquid feed once they start to flower will ensure they develop healthy fruits.
• A mulch of straw around the plants should be applied at or soon after flowering to help protect them from rain splash on surrounding soil.
• If this is not available then a polythene sheet placed around them is a good alternative.
• Pick the fruits as they become fully ripe and remember they always taste best later in the day when they have warmed in the sun!

Like The Idea Of Growing Your Own Fruit Trees?

Now's an excellent time to plant fruit trees and bushes for a bumper harvest of juicy fruits for years to come.

If you fancy growing your own mini orchard, then make sure the soil is well prepared with plenty of organic matter. A mixture such as well-rotted manure and compost is ideal.

• Always plant at the same depth that the plant was originally growing and firm the soil around the roots.
• Trees will need to be staked with a good tree stake and secured with two tree ties.
• After planting, mulch the soil around fruit trees and bushes with a 5-7.5cm (2-3in) thick layer of organic matter to help keep weeds down and maintain soil moisture levels in summer.

This month is also a great time to give all your fruit a little TLC. They will all appreciate a good feeding with a granular fertiliser; use either Growmore or blood, fish and bone.

• An application of Sulphate of Potash will help boost the amount of fruit your trees produce by providing the much needed nutrient potassium.
• After feeding mulch the ground around the plants using plenty of bulky organic matter like well-rotted horse manure, compost or composted bark.
• If young fruit trees are growing in turf, remove a circle of at least 90cm (3ft) in diameter, as the grass is very hungry and thirsty and will rob the tree of vital moisture and nutrients.

You’ve Waited All Winter – Now You Can Start Sowing!

Most gardeners get itchy fingers in early spring - desperate to start sowing and growing. But patience is a virtue at this time of year.

• Seeds need a minimum soil temperature of 5-7C (40-45F) to germinate, and if sown too soon they'll just rot.
• You can speed things up by covering your soil with clear plastic, cloches or cloche polytunnels to help warm it up and allow those itchy fingers to get going sooner.
• If you don't have a veg garden or simply want to grow more veg in other places, then you can grow most vegetables in pots and other containers on the patio - and some can even be grown in window boxes and hanging baskets.
• Check your stocks of containers now and buy lots more if you need them.
• Tomatoes, peppers, chillies, cucumbers and aubergines can be sown indoors this month, but you will need a propagator to ensure good germination.
• If you don't want the bother of growing your own from seed, then buy young plants.

Flower Power

Plant Bare Root Roses & Prune Established Bushes To Encourage Summer Blooms

Providing the ground is not frosted over, now is the perfect time to plant your bare root roses whilst still in the dormant season.

Hybrid tea and floribunda bush roses will also benefit from pruning during early March.
• Start by cutting out any thin, dead, diseased, damaged, rubbing or crossing stems and then prune back the remainder by between half and two-thirds.
• To ensure you do a good job you'll need a pair of strong, quality secateurs and thick gloves.
• After pruning, spray with an insecticide and fungicide to protect against future problems.
• Then feed with a granular rose fertiliser to ensure a mass of perfect blooms all summer long.

Remember To Deadhead Spring Bulbs As They Finish

Start deadheading daffodils and other bulbs as the flowers fade and start to die. It may be tempting to also remove the foliage or tie it into neat knots, but don't.

The bulbs need the leaves to feed them up so they produce another wonderful display next year.
• Instead of removing them, give them a feed instead.
• Fertilisers are the best choice as they act quickly.

Are your beds and borders lacking colour?

Have you got gaps in your planting schemes that need filling with that special something?

Well now's the time to do something about it. March is the perfect month to plant shrubs, roses, climbers and perennials. Plant this month and everything will establish quickly and soon be giving you displays to be proud of. Always give your plants the best possible start by using a planting compost and general fertiliser and water in well.

Good Housekeeping

Start Lawn Care Now For A Thick And Healthy Lawn This Summer

For a lush vibrant lawn, major care and attention starts now.

• Mow lawns regularly when necessary - whenever the grass is growing - the aim is to maintain a more or less constant height throughout the year.
• March is the perfect time to start feeding your lawn - we recommend 'Doff All Year Lawn Feed Concentrate' for best results.
• If weeds are a problem then save yourself time, money and effort by using a granular weed and feed. And if your lawn is plagued by moss, then you'll need a weed, feed and moss killer.
• Turf can be laid, as long as the soil isn't too wet or frosty. Try to work from wooden planks to avoid compacting the soil.
• Don't walk on the newly laid turf, but leave it undisturbed for a few weeks to allow it to establish properly.

Give Your Houseplants A Spring Rejuvenation

Now is the perfect time to give your houseplants a spring rejuvenation.

Follow our checklist to ensure they look great all year:

• Clean up the leaves and remove any dead ones
• Re-pot those that need bigger pots to flourish in
• Start giving them more water as they begin to grow
• Perk them up with a good feed
• If you can't remember to feed regularly, controlled release tablets are a great way to simply feed and forget
• Check for pests, which may be on the increase

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