Rosie shares her gardening tips and know-how.
As I didn’t write an article in January, I’m rather late in wishing you a Happy New Year. Nevertheless, I do hope that 2017 will be a good, healthy and prosperous year for you all.
It’s such an exciting time of year as we begin to see signs of spring approaching? So here we go again, planning and preparing together for a wonderful, colourful and hopefully productive year ahead in our gardens.
Wildlife: It’s coming to the end of the hedgehog’s hibernation time and as they emerge from their small hidey holes, they will be in desperate need of food. Cat or dog food is apparently ideal but it is possible that this could encourage vermin, so meal-worms seem a better option to me. These wonderful little creatures, (hedgehogs not meal-worms), will also be very thirsty and need plenty of fresh water too but not milk! Remember to check that there are no hedgehogs hiding under the pile of garden waste before lighting bonfires.
Put up nesting boxes or clean out the existing ones ready to set up again. Continue to keep the bird bath clean and filled with fresh water. Also, keep your bird feeders topped up, avoiding large seeds and nuts such as peanuts during the nesting season.
Weeding: As I have said before, I would always rather suggest weeding the old-fashioned way with a trowel or fork, probably on your hands and knees, but there a few problem weeds that are almost impossible to conquer without the aid of a weed-killer. I use one that is biodegradable and readily available in DIY stores or garden centres. These difficult weeds – bindweed, horsetail, couch grass and ground elder – send out creeping rhizomes under the ground entangling their roots around other plants. I try to eradicate them by laying their leaves flat on the ground and securing them with a brick or large stone.
This technique helps to separate the weed from nearby plants and you can then carefully spray them with the weed-killer. These particular weeds are virulent and will need to be sprayed on a regular basis (monthly), probably for two or three seasons.
Celandines are another difficult weed to get rid of. They spread by producing lots of tiny root tubers. The best way to get rid of these weeds is to spray the whole area with a biodegradable weed-killer, again on a regular basis, over a season or two.
Pruning and cutting back: Cut back ornamental grasses, ideally before new growth appears or, if you happen to miss the perfect opportunity, try not to damage the new shoots.
Prune roses now and cut fuchsia and lavatera back hard. Cut hydrangea to just above the first or second shoot from the ground. This will encourage bushy and compact new growth.
Lawns: Cut the lawn if there is a mild, dry spell, on a high-blade setting.
Prepare the ground for sowing grass seed by digging it over and add some organic matter. Garden compost is good. Level the area and leave it to settle for a few weeks.