Pippa Greenwood: Haxnicks gardening tips for March
Here are my gardening tips for March. As the weather starts to warm up, the chances are your garden’s slug population will start to make its presence felt.
How to Deal with Slugs
There are plenty of slugs, mostly the larger ones, whose diet consists mainly of garden debris – rotting leaves, organic mulch and so forth.
To be honest, these are not really problem, but if you have had lots of seedlings being wiped out, young plants being devastated or perhaps a lot of damage to potato tubers when you lift the crop later in the year, then it’d be worth considering some sort of control.
Fortunately, as things warm up the magical ‘minimum soil temperature of 5C’ arrives too. So from March onwards you can use the nematode control. It is a simple and efficient process – the nematodes enter the slug’s body, produces bacteria which then kill the slug.
It is easy to apply, just follow the instructions and mix it up in a watering can which has a coarse rose fitted to it. I pre-water the soil and then lightly water over the soil after applying it too – it helps to wash all the nematodes into the soil where they can then go about controlling the keeled slugs which cause such a lot of damage.
And the great thing is, this control is safe for pets, wildlife and humans. It works really well for about six weeks provided the soil is kept moist….and you can buy it here
If your question is where to start gardening. Then the answer is to plant some seeds. If you’ve got a lot of seedlings and tiny plants growing away already in your greenhouse or on a windowsill, you’ll need to take action to ensure they remain good and sturdy. If not then they will become leggy and etiolated.
Lack of natural light is the main problem, so windowsills are the main concern. What can you do? Rotate the seed trays or pots at least once a day so that the plants will be less inclined to grow towards the light. I also suggest standing them on sheets of card covered with cooking foil. This will reflect some more light back up to the plants. If things are still a bit gloomy you could even cut the top and one side off a cardboard box and line the entire thing with kitchen foil. Then place the pots and trays inside it, with the cut face up against the window glass.
Hopefully you’ve found out how to grow potatoes and have already got a few seed potatoes in potato planters. They'll need to be kept somewhere well protected like a greenhouse or coldframe for now so that you can enjoy an extra-early harvest.
But don’t forget you can also make some potentially delicious sowings of many other crops now and, if your soil is still wet and cold, using planters and pots for these early sowings means the seeds won’t rot off. Check out this planters link for a variety of specialist planters for everything from carrots to runner beans.
Whatever seeds you choose to sow, use a good quality compost and make lots of small sowings, perhaps some early salad leaves or a crop of carrots. Covering them with seedling tunnels or covering circular pots and planters with Victorian Bell-Cloches means you can also keep excess rain off the compost surface, and keep conditions a little warmer too.
So these are my gardening tips for March. I hope you are as excited as I am about the coming season!
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