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

The days are starting to lengthen and whether flowers or produce is your thing, see our tips below from experienced local gardeners and 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!). 

And if you are buying compost please remember to check that it is peat-free

April tips from Head Gardener Bob Davison:

In April cutting the grass once a week should be sufficient but don’t be tempted to cut it too much if you have let it get too long. This will result in a sudden loss of a large quantity of leaf and might shock the grass, reducing it’s vigour and opening the lawn up to invasion from weeds. If grass has become too long then carry out higher cuts every few days until required height is reached.

It is still OK to divide and split herbaceous perennials – just give them plenty of water to settle them in. Plants such as Hostas and Geraniums love being cleaved in two with a spade and will usually prosper and reward you with renewed vigour. Take care to look out for any weeds amongst the roots.

Look at the individual requirements of your plants and making sure they have a little help for their growing season ahead. By this I mean giving them a good dose of fertilizer (like granular Growmore) or just a few shovels of muck.  OK, so the plants are most probably functioning fine without it but there’s one thing to have a plant just growing and another to have them growing healthier, greener and with better flowers. Give your shrubs, hedges and other plants a treat this spring and they’ll thank you for it.

Grow Your Own Veg

April jobs from Belinda at Hungerford Allotments

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

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

Early potato planting with Hilary Reem.

Broad bean planting with Hilary Reem.

• 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

More tips for growing your own produce:

Borders, Flowers & Shrubs

• February jobs include pruning roses and shrubs and planting lilies

 It is easy to propogate your own geraniums

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 ideas to minimise the amount of watering you have to do – from ARK (Action for the River Kennet).

How to Avoid Gardening Injuries

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

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).

 

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