Seasonal Tips to help you make the most of your garden.

May gardening advice from the RHS includes protecting plants from late frosts, earthing up potatoes and planting out summer bedding plants.

• The Gardening Show with Linda & Jane discusses peony varieties and splitting techniques, colour wheel, how to look after bulbs so they come back next year (deadheading, feed bulbs in pots)

• If you are unlucky to catch a late frost, don’t despair as there is a chance the plants will put up new shoots for example these runner beans and marigolds.

• The best way to ‘No Mow May’– top tips from eco gardening expert Rachel Hammond.

• How to grow tomatoes (see more veg growing tips below)

You can start making your own liquid plant feed now that comfrey is starting to come up to join the nettles.

Grow Your Own Veg

• How to get started growing your own veg – a beginners’s guide

• Latest inspirational blog from Belinda at Plot 7 Marsh Lane Hungerford Allotments

•  listen here (from 4 min 30sec) to Penny’s tour of Hilly Reem’s inspiring 60 year old veg garden (including a 100 year old rhubarb plant!). 

• If you don’t have a garden, you can still grow lettuce and sprout seeds on a windowsill for fresh and tasty salads or even grow potatoes indoors

how to plant garlic cloves so they stratify (separate into individual cloves) even if you are planting them in warm temperatures

More tips for growing your own produce:

Borders, Flowers & Shrubs

How to take softwood cuttings eg lavender, hydrangea

 It is easy to propogate your own geraniums 

 Helibores are expensive to buy but will create their own seedlings if you cut back dead leaves to allow sunlight through to the soil around the plant where the seeds will land.

• Gardening for Bumblebees by David Goulson explains that long- and short-tongued bees feed from different types of flowers. And they are not the types that are bred these days for their colourful petals. The bees need to be able to reach the nectar and pollen, so short-tongued bees like pussy willow, comfrey, geranium, catmint, field scabius, marjoram viper’s bugloss and Devil’s bit scabious. Long-tonged bees like lungwort, comfrey, catmint, phacelia, viper’s bugloss and devil’s bit scabious. 

Wildlife Friendly Gardening

• If you find a bee swarm in your garden first please double check they are honeybees from this guide and then contact: Newbury Beekeepers, Marc Benson on 07746 374819 in Wash Common, Vale & Downland Beekeepers (for Wantage Area) or Swindon & District Beekeepers – any of these people will be very happy to collect the swarm from you.

Composting & Fertilizing

• It is worth growing comfrey to make a liquid fertilizer for your garden. Roughly chop up leaves in a bucket of water and nettle leaves too. Stir occasionally. When the water is dark green and smells like fertilizer then dilute it with more water and gives your crops a good drink. Here is a demonstration by Monty Don.

• reminder to men to pee on their compost heap! According to The Daily Telegraph this is an important chore and one that is physically easier for men and their pee happens to be slightly less acidic than women’s.

Watering

• Watering takes time and frankly, water is precious so here are tips on how to water your plants for best root growth. To prevent evaporation, we cover soil with gravel, mussel shells and big leaves like rhubarb.

• River-friendly rain garden design ideas to minimise the amount of watering you have to do – from ARK (Action for the River Kennet).

Gardening and Wellbeing

 How to garden without injury to keep fit – top tips from Andy at West Berkshire Injury Clinic.

 Sue Stuart-Smith explains in her book The Well Gardened Mind how gardening relieves stress and can transform our health, wellbeing and confidence.

Trees

• If you find tree saplings in your garden please nurture them to contribute to Newbury Friends of the Earth’s Lockdown Wood
 
• If you see woolly fluff on your fruit trees it is aphids and they are easily treated

• Early spring when the tree is still dormant is the best time to graft trees. When the tree wakes up, the sap will hopefully start flowing across the tissues of the graft. It is important to use a very sharp knife so the cut edges are smooth and clean and meld together (it is worth practicing the cuts on spare wood first.) For more information contact Growing Newbury Green. Here is a demonstration from one of the community orchards in Newbury.

Gardening Courses & Clubs

Gardening Courses with Sonia Wright near Marlborough. Something for every garden enthusiast at these one day workshops with award-winning gardener Sonia Wright. Gift vouchers available. To find out more, email sonia@soniawrightgardens.co.uk or call 07917 784602..

Newbury & District Gardeners meet fortnighly during the winter. Lecture series in Newbury open to the public.

If You Don’t Have Your Own Garden

When we can travel again, there are many allotments across the area which might have free plots. There are also community garden centres that are always grateful for volunteers and provide a social experience where you can learn a lot about gardening.

For inspiration on houseplants listen to Gardening Show with Linda & Jane on 4LEGS Radio: houseplants, terrariums and dragon plants (from 13 mins) – plus weeding, sowing crops under glass like chillis and sweet peas (from 27mins), early flowering plants and assessing the structure of your garden in the winter (from 30 mins).

 

Sign up to the free weekly

Penny Post
e-newsletter 

 

For: local positive news, events, jobs, recipes, special offers, recommendations & more.

Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale