If you missed an autumn planting of lily bulbs now is a good time to plant some to catch up for this year.
In spring plant the new bulbs at a depth of three times the height of the bulbs. If you plan to leave bulbs in the ground leave about twice the width of the bulb inbetween (closer if you will be lifting them each year).
Planting in threes or fives will give a good show if you chose healthy bulbs with plump scales.
Lilies like a rich fertile soil so incorporate some slow release fertiliser. As they start flowering give them a liquid feed of high potassium fertiliser.
Keep watered during dry spells but never let them be waterlogged.
Lilly beetles can be a red pain. The eggs eat leaves and stems and deposit a black sludge. Pick off and crush the beetles, they can fall to the ground to avoid the slow gardener.
After flowering cut back the seed heads before they leach out the goodness from the bulb trying to set seed. Leave to die back then cut off at soil level.
When theft and wanton damageÂ happensÂ you and your garden suffer so safeguard your property. You do not need to be paranoid but take appropriate care by just walking around your garden and see what you can improve in the way of prevention
Power tools and lawn mowers have a high theft value as they are easy to steal and turn into cash.
To stop opportunist thefts do not leave tools in the garden unattended or visible in open sheds or garages.
Mark your tools with your postcode and name. Keep a record on serial numbers and identifying marks.
When not in use chain them down so they are harder to take.
Secure Sheds and Outbuildings
Fit good quality, strong locksÂ and use them not just last thing at night.
Use secure hinges on doors
Fit locks or grills on windows
Only store valuable items in the shed if it is fully secure.
I have 35 good ceramic pots and numerous plastic pots and containers dotted around the garden. There is a 3 foot wide path all around the house that hosts many of these pots on a permanent or seasonally temporary basis. I enjoy ringing the changes about location and container content. What I don’t enjoy is watering the pots! Since the floods early in the year we have had scarcely any rain in Yorkshire and the ground is now dry and cracking up. Looking at the forecast April looks like being a shower free zone never mind a good soaker.
A plant pot that needs more water
Why Pots get Dry
Too little soil or compost to retain enough moisture often because the pot is too small
Compost too free draining eg sandy or gritty soil. Compost need some ‘heart’ to retain water.
Porous terracotta pots that allow water to be sucked out through the sides
Pots in too much sunshine with no shade
Pots placed in windy or draughty conditions
Plants with lush leaves that transpire readily and need copious amounts to drink.
Root bound pots or those filled with roots leaving no room for water soaked compost.
Excess roots and weed cover restricting water content
These comment apply to varying degrees to most ceramic, clay, terracotta and plastic pots, containers, hanging baskets plus similar plant containers.
You may notice pure peat or coir is very difficult to get evenlyÂ wet. Commercial composts have a wetting agent added during packing so this problem is initiallyÂ circumvented
If pots get dried out the compost is very hard to re-wet. A deep soak for 12 hours is probably the best way to totally rehydrate the soil but that is not always possible. Damp compost will take up more water. Very dry soil sheds the water or lets it run right through. I start with a light wetting or dampner on the surface then 10 minutes later water properly.
Special care is very important specifically if the compost has shrunk away from the sides of the pot.
The problem of hanging baskets being difficult to re-water once they get a bit dry has a simple solution which is to use a wetting agent or a small dash of washing up liquid in the water .
PreventingÂ drying out in the first place is asÂ better step.
Drip or electronic controlled watering would be a top end solution.
A saucer under the pot would be a cheapo solution.
A community of pots to create a micro climate and increase surrounding humidity can help.
Placing the pot on soil or capillary matting would allow some leaching from the surrounding area.
I use a wick system for pots in the greenhouse with aÂ strip of capillary fabric or matting trailing from the middle of the pot surrounded in compost with the end trailing out of a drainage hole into a sump of water.
As if all the heavy rain has not been bad enough the icy weather is just around the corner. Jack frost will be nipping into your garden this month and may stick around for 5/6 months or so. It is worth revisiting some of the issues and options gardeners face.
Consider your water features including both still and moving. I start by lagging my outside taps and draining hosepipes.
Be prepared for frozen bird baths and ponds with means of breaking the ice.
I have cleared moss of the paths and hope to reduce icy slips.
Check out hessian wrapping and/or horticultural fleece stock. I always remember to buy it when the frost has bitten.
Every gardeners tip says do not walk on frozen grass the stems become brittle and snap.
Give tender plants shelter in a greenhouse, cold frame, window ledge or under some cover.
Mulch well to protect roots.
Sweep snow falls off the leaves and branches to stop them being permanently damaged.
Wrap banana plants, tree ferns and exotics in sacking or other frost prevention measures.
Some plants, particularly alpines, suffer more damaged from water than frost . So maintain drainage and don’t panic in the frost
Irena Dorney a reader of my chrysanthemum post has asked ‘ Tell me do you overwinter your plants? I can no longer afford to keep buying new plants for my planters so I want to invest in plants with a perennial habit that will work hard in my raised bed.’
I am a Yorkshire man so yes I try to over winter many of my plants. I want value for money and the thrill of getting or keeping ‘summat for nowt’.
A major proportion of my garden is planted with evergreen shrubs and they overwinter themselves.
Alpines are generally designed for cold wintery weather but HATEÂ wet so I don’t worry about frost but will shield or deflect rain from auriculas and damp haters.
Bulbs I leave in the ground or pots but take up begonias and dahlia tubers and keep them frost free for planting the following year.
You can forget about your tender annuals but the seeds are worth collecting. You then overwinter them as seeds or biannuals.
Selecting ‘hardy’ plants that are more likely to survive to survive is a skill worth learning. Violas will last better than pansies for example and dwarf conifers and acers do well in my pots.
One of the biggest risks to plants in pots is death by frozen roots. A big pot holds more soil and is harder but not impossible to freeze.
I gather pots together for wind and frost protection. A group of pots can create there own micro climate.
Under a hedge row I store many pot plants where I am fatalistic. If they survive great if not then c’est la vie & I try to propagate more.
Overwintering in a Raised Bed
Selecting herbaceous perennials can fill your raised beds. Herbaceous plants die back every year when the weather gets cold but the right ones regrow next year. If the winter conditions are harsh then mulch around the root area. Delphiniums, alstromeria and primroses have done well this year.
Tender subjects like musa (banana) or ferns can be wrapped in hessian or covered in straw but that is too much bother for me.
I grow rhododendrons and deciduous azaleas in a raised bed for the want of a larger area. Like many woody shrubs they do fine.
Getting to the grass root of the problem grass is theÂ largest irrigated crop in the USA.
Like other crops grass depends on the health of the soil in which it grows.
Moisture and nutrient retention is crucial to keeping your soil in good shape.
Clover is good news not bad news at least in moderation. I bit less attractive but a force for good with grass. Nodules on the clover store and deliver nitrogen more effectively than synthetic fertilisers.
Home chemical applications tend to be significantly over done compared to agriculture. Less not more is far better.
Water wisely in early morning. Evening watering can encourage some disease.
Allow clippings to fall back on the grass and rot down to keep the soil in good heart.
Higher cutting blades and grass helps prevent weeds and helps retain moisture.
Other Methods for Healthy Grass Lawns
Scarifying – rake out the dead leaves and detritus
AeratingÂ – spike the soil to allow air in and de-compact the ground
Feeding – nitrogen rich food is the grass’s choice
Top DressingÂ – a bit of sand and soil brushed in helps new roots
Moss Control – get rid of moss in spring
Weed control – selective chemical weed killer
Damage Repair – even the best lawns can get damaged – patches reseeding or just turning the edge of a turf around can help