Time is fast slipping away for some jobs

Gardening activities are stepping up on all fronts as we say goodbye to March.

By Tom Pattinson
Sunday, 31st March 2019, 4:39 pm
Forsythia, prune it after flowering. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
Forsythia, prune it after flowering. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

I’m balancing the care of young plants in the greenhouse with shrub pruning, weed control and mulching in the garden, and time is slipping away for certain jobs.

This is highlighted when an acquaintance mentions planting the early potatoes outdoors. They do need at least 10 weeks growing time to be ready for Newcastle Race Week in June.

Viburnum x bodnantense had flowered since October until recently. Now it can be pruned severely to reduce it from circa 4m to 2m. The evergreen Viburnum tinus has also been reduced, along with winter jasmine. Pruning now gives all three a chance to develop new shoots that grow into flowering wood for the end of this year.

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Summer flowering shrubs buddleja and lavatera have just been pruned to knee height, and recently planted roses were reduced even lower. Forsythia will be pruned as soon as the flowers fade.

Growth is developing nicely on onion sets started individually in pots. They’ll soon be planted out with a solid root system that defies any sparrow or jackdaw’s intent on uprooting them.

Young plants of Kelsae onion will arrive via mail order soon. They’re grown for winter use and store well. Year-old asparagus crowns is the other order. They’ll add extra vigour to the bed.

An established rhubarb clump that was encroaching on the raspberry bed was dug up two months ago. It was divided into sections with crowns and left on the surface to be frosted, an old trick to stimulate growth.

The new site received weathered horse manure before planting and a large pot was placed over. A few weeks later we have take-off.

We will only harvest a few stalks this time, allowing the plants to become established.