MARCH - HEAD GARDENER PLANNER & CHECKLIST

Track temperatures.

Nowton Park - image: Flickr/Martin Pettitt (CC BY 2.0)
Nowton Park - image: Flickr/Martin Pettitt (CC BY 2.0)

Walk, don’t run It is officially spring but while the sun can be warm the wind can be chill and night-times can still surprise with sub-zero temperatures anywhere in the country. It may be tempting to step up the work schedules but any to-do lists should focus on priorities and reflect weather and ground conditions. Those gardens opening to the public will hopefully be kept busy with visitors enjoying a day out, filling the café and gift shop. Note areas that are popular to manage traffic flow in future. Less popular areas may need to be improved.

Ornamental garden Finish dividing perennials and prepare beds for planting. Autumn sown sweet peas can be planted out now or seed sown direct in final flowering positions. Keep an eye on germinating annuals in the greenhouse and sow more indoors or out as appropriate. Remove faded flowers from early daffodils. Make staggered plantings of gladioli corms as soon as the soil warms up.

Kitchen garden When conditions are right and the soil has warmed up, direct sow carrots, peas, beetroot, winter cabbage, broccoli, spinach, kohlrabi, runner beans, French beans, broad beans, peas and sweetcorn. Tomatoes, celery and celeriac can be sown indoors for planting out in June. Also make indoor sowings of marrows, pumpkins and courgettes. Plant potatoes as appropriate to variety and plant onion sets when the soil is dry. Cut back summer and autumn fruiting raspberries to around 20-25cm from the base. Prune fan-trained cherries and plums. Tie in vine shoots. Feed blackcurrants and blackberries with a nitrogen dressing. Watch out for mildew on fruit bushes.

Lawns Scarify to remove thatch, aerate to improve drainage and apply spring fertiliser. Overseed bare patches. Continue mowing at 50mm for general amenity areas, 18mm for finer amenity areas, 12mm on ornamental lawns and 10mm on very fine ornamental lawns, but be ready to drop the mowing this month. By the end of April, mowing heights should be between 25mm and 12mm for amenity areas and between 8mm and 6mm for ornamental lawns.

Greenhouse With so much sowing and germination going on, it is important to keep greenhouses and conservatories well ventilated during the day while still being ready for frosts at night.

Water features Remove dead stems, leaves and weeds from ponds. Divide and replant aquatic and bog plants. Clean pumps and fountains.


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