With the present 'lock down' or whatever you may call it surely there will be no excuse for not getting out into the garden when the weather permits. So think up all those little jobs written on the 'round to it' list and put this time to good use. If you don’t have a garden, then make sure the terrace and potted plants are all tidied up. All potted plants need a little facelift from time to time. Constant watering frequently compacts the soil and washes many of the nutrients out so now is as good a time as any to re-pot all your plants. Simply up-end the pot, in some cases you may need to re-pot the plant in a larger pot, the root ball could well be filling the whole of the pot with some roots even showing through the drainage holes, a sure sign for the need of a larger pot. Just one size up will probably be sufficient. Carefully tease the roots out a little before putting into the new pot that should be prepared with a good handful of new potting soil, settle the plant back in and fill up around the root ball until all is safely planted again. Water well at this point and stand it in its drainage dish. Do remember that as many house plants die back from drowning as they do from thirst, it’s just a matter of finding the happy medium for each plant. Some need a frequent top up whilst others seem to prefer to dry out before watering again. Also remember that indoor plants may find the heating dries them out quicker so be sure to keep the pots away from radiators etc. Standing on a sunny window ledge isn't always that healthy a situation either. Last year’s lovely summer flowering bulbs could well be showing signs of waking up with just the smallest green shoot showing. If these have not yet been re-potted start off now, it takes two to three months for this type of bulb to come into flower. This is a matter of a total re-pot, remove the bulb from its pot, you may well find it has baby bulbs sprouting around it, larger ones with a good root system can be carefully broken away from the parent bulb to be planted separately. Some plants are large enough to warrant a pot each, others look better in groups so plant them in a large enough pot spacing them out. Never cover the growing tip completely especially if it already has signs of its new growth also be careful not to damage the roots. Here again, water the new soil well and then drain, but do be careful not to over water, bulbs can rot if they stand in too much really wet soil.
And now to those bulbs that have finished flowering out in the garden. If they are to be left in place, they can be tidied a little by deadheading or just left to wilt back. Never cut the greenery off yet, the bulb absorbs the nutrients from the green leaves to help the flowering the next growing season. As the leaves wilt a little and become more pliable they can be tied all together into a loose knot where they can be left standing until the whole of it dries back and will just come away from the bulb when it is brown and the leaves are completely dead. Some gardeners like to lift their bulbs and dry them out for replanting next season, others prefer to leave them in the ground planting summer annuals around them. Here I cannot say which is the perfect way to grow bulbs, kept dried on the greenhouse shelf you may just as likely forget them whereas in the ground they will come back year after year. It's your choice.
Indoor jobs can be done on dull days. I have mentioned the end of the citrus crops. There is nothing better than picking off all the bitter oranges to make some homemade marmalade, bitter oranges are superb for this. And if you have a glut of lemons, there is nothing tastier than your own home-made Lemon Curd. Larger amounts of lemon curd are better kept frozen because it is made with eggs and butter whilst marmalade just needs the tiniest tipple of whiskey on the top and it will keep until the next batch is made. Lemons and grapefruit of course can also be made into marmalade, so nothing need be wasted from the garden when it’s time to pick the fruit.
The rest of the garden will be over-run with weeds if not kept down, it always amazes me just how fast weeds take a hold when other plants are fed and watered and never show such growth. The lawns for example, Bermuda grass, the popular type of grass for this climate, makes no growth whatsoever until about the month of May. It could well be looking quite green but in fact is all weeds, different grasses, wild garlic, oxalis, all the clovers and vetches. Now is the time to get the lawn mower out to cut this rubbish off, all it does is keep the sun away from the real lawn and take the goodness out of the soil, so even if you are not mowing the lawn grass, mow the weeds off. Sometimes it is even better to get down to a hands and knees job to pull the weeds up root and all because within a week or two, if they have just been cut off, they will grow back again until the real Bermuda grass (grama) really begins with the warmth of the early summer days and takes over.
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