A garden full of spring flowers really makes one feel that Easter is here but only that hard work and constant attention to the corners will get these results. Yes a gardeners life never lets up. We speak of the differences between our Mediterranean climate and that further north but no two years are the same. Easter falls either sooner or later, snow or shine but we still quote those proverbs and sayings that come in any language. “April showers bring forth May flowers” whilst in Spanish we simply say ‘Aguas mil’ which simply means plenty of rain. There are those old farmers who quote that the April rains are in fact the most beneficial of the whole year coming as it does when everything is newly planted
This year the garden is actually needing the occasional watering even though we are still in the spring season. Unfortunately some of those blustery March winds have scorched a lot of the tender new leaf on some shrubs but don’t worry, they will come back to life easily enough, maybe a little further cutting back to snip off the dead brown leaves but that should not hinder their new spring growth. Having said that, it is an indication that any tender new plants that are being transplanted will still need to be sheltered from the extremes of our climate or not actually moved out into the garden just yet, unless of course made provision for. Upside down large 5 or 8 litre plastic water bottles with the neck cut out make perfect little individual green houses, they shelter tender plants from the wind and keep the moisture in, everything has its uses!!
Our comments from readers about their spring bulbs from readers that Jill Carter kindly mentioned several weeks ago has brought more to light as to why ones daffodils for example have produced a completely blind bed of this years bulbs. Two different people have mentioned the Narcisus maggot, that little devil that burrows right into the heart of the bulb eating away at the very centre where the flower spike should grow from. The bulb looks almost intact and this little burrow can be almost overlooked until no flowers actually sprout from it and there is the reason for the ‘blind bulbs’. They can be found in bulbs left in the ground from one season to the next or even in some cases in a newly purchased bag of bulbs as has been mentioned in a couple of cases.
Maggots of all sorts get into ones plant pots eating away at the roots of whatever is planted. It is important to carefully up-end some potted plants from time to time, especially if they have not been re-potted for several seasons because, who knows what can be found in the bottom! Sometimes they don’t actually kill the plant off but in many cases just make them look sad. So, carefully remove the whole root ball from the pot, look amongst the roots for anything unwanted. At this point the plant/shrub or whatever can be given a size larger pot with some fresh potting soil in the bottom and a little more to help settle the plant back into its new pot. With a bit of luck and gentle handling the plant won’t show any adverse signs of this upheaval, water well in and there you are for the rest of the summer. It’s not quite such heavy work as deep digging the garden over but still a necessary chore to keep potted plants on a terrace looking strong and healthy. So having mentioned deep digging, it really is time to clear out any patches that have not yet been planted up, be they flowers or the vegetable garden.
A good deep dig really helps remove weeds and in many cases an enormous amount of roots, many of which may well sprout up again whether you want them or not if they are not all removed. What is the saying? ‘A weed is simply a plant in the wrong place!’ No matter what, just get it out before it takes up all the nutrients you will be wanting for this coming seasons plants.
Our gardening books continue to tell us it is planting time so after all your digging you can put in whatever spring seeds you want. Watch out for rats or mice who may well like to dig up your seeds, cats as well can scratch away at freshly dug soil and that is not counting what may well be preparing its way in by way of slugs and snails as soon as tender green leaves appear.
So, prepare what method you like best as a pest control, you will surely be needing it.