April Gardener

SCIENCE FOR THE GARDENER BOOK LAUNCH AND SIGNING BY AUTHOR TONY ARNOLD

SCIENCE FOR THE GARDENER BOOK  FINALLY LAUNCHED

AUTHOR BOOK SIGNING IN THE SOUTH WEST OF THE UK AT CHARD BOOKSHOP IN SOMERSET 

What a wonderful month of the year to enjoy ,with every plant deciding winter is very definitely out and suddenly we are all caught out with plant growth  ,where do we start to garden ?.

Have we  tidied up all that winter detritus  and done our essential maintenance of tool sharpening ,mower cleaning ,greenhouse cleaning and airing ,sorry to be boring but they do come first!

What comes next

iNEXPENSIVE TEST METERS IN MOIST SOIL WILL GIVE Ph MOISTURE AND FERTILITY READINGS INSTANTLY

SOIL

The garden whatever size requires healthy soil ,so often taken for granted as everlasting and not requiring maintenance !!   Its not !!.

  • ADD SOME MYCOHRIZZA  FUNGI TO ROOTS ESPECIALLY FOR TREE PLANTING AND ROOTGROW BOOST.AVAILABLE IN HORTICULTURAL SUPPLY RETAILERS .

    MYCOHRIZZAL FUNGUS BOOSTING ROOT GROWTH ITS SYMBIOTIC BETWEEN TREE ROOTS

  • Lightly rake over to bring much needed oxygen to compacted winter soil surface  and remember your plants breathe ( respiration) through the plant roots to a large degree so lightly digging over with a trowel in the root area NOT DAMAGING THE ROOT BALL ,will make a big difference to health and energy for growth of your garden in sping . Add some light mulch of fresh  compost for soil improvement  and preferably  manure that contains the vital biological nitrogen producing microbes  ,its like giving them a treat.

Soil is often so forgotten and therefore neglected but its soil that contains the vital food –nutrients that plants depend on ,nitrogen N  for green growth ,phosphorus P  for strength and potassium K for flowering .Look for NPK on your fertiliser and decide from your soil and plants what you require for ornamental or vegatable growth .Vegetables generally require alkaline soil for  additional liming with a calcium product that may  be required to avoid club root .

  • May I strongly recommend an inexpensive but really useful pH meter to simply stick in to moist soil for an instant guide to your soil .These meters also give a fertility and moisture reading at a click of the settings.
  • To add to these foods  top up the soil with a dressing of fresh loam (clay –sand –silt mixture ) and then compost and manure that contain the living microbes producing the all important nitrogen mix for a really surprising thank you from your garden plants ,just enjoy the rewards as the season progresses.
  • If you have Ericaceous plants ,Rhododendron family ,Heathers ,Camellias ,Pieris ,Enkianthus and kitchen growing Vaccinnium fruit shrubs such as delicious blueberries ,cranberries etc do not use ordinary clay loam ,use branded ericaceous soils that do not contain lime hating calcium ,but iron and manganese instead mixed in with grit, bark and plenty of organic (compost).As a chemist I favour generous ericaceous liquid feed this time of the year and especially when flowering occurs from now onwards.

Spring  planting

SPRING HELLEBORES

TRILLIUMS ( WAKE ROBIN) ARE MAGICAL WITH TOUGH RHIZOMES

Where to start ,at the beginning, but where  in a garden !?

May I suggest perhaps a sheet  of paper and simply list the following range of plants  to think over and start looking for what you want out of  planting in your garden and where ,sun or shade ,dry or moist its very important to the planting .

Small trees and shrubs ,some evergreen for winter pleasure ,some flowering such as Prunus ,winter Prunus , Amalankia is superb for all year round three leaf colour changes, Crab apples have all year colour and superb late ornamental fruits not forgetting  quincies and so many special small fruit  trees worth searching around for what you want from your garden .

 Kitchen

Cane fruit should be cut hard back from old growth as all fruit is on new growth and start feeding . Plant broad beans and most vegetable seed sowing can commence with some protection from heavy rain and snails

Ornamental

 Spring bulbs such as moisture loving  tall Camassia,  Erythronia (dogs tooth violet),fragrant Convallaria (Lily of the valley ) many can be grown in containers .

Borders and Beds ,Aquilegia ,Anemonies,Phlox ,and Armeria ,so many to chose from and tough Herbaceous perennials are superb ongoing value on sale soon.

Climbers  divide Clematis into early woody , mid summer and late summer entirely new growth late summer long flowering to first frosts worth planting now .Grape vines ,attractive Ivy ,climbing hydrangea petiolaris ,sweat pea ,and try some easy grow colourful annuals from seed,Convallaria –blue convolvulus  and orange Thunbergia-black eyed susie in a container with a cane ,what can be simpler to grow from seed in a pot.

Ground cover consider for difficult steep banks and difficult soil ,Cornus canadensis is a good choice but look in books and websites to see what they look like when covering ground .

Hedges  can be bought on line with whips and I have found a  mail order service of one (uk) hedges -for -u company really excellent in delivery packaging and healthy condition .

Now April is commencing I advise visiting garden centres and  quality websites but make your orders worth while with delivery charges about a fiver ,just enjoy a relaxing look around as a ’plant hunting tourist ‘ travelling or on line the choice is wonderful but decide whats going to work for you and your garden plan first .

Take your time ,and above all enjoy the wonderful start to spring .

Tony Arnold  MCIHort

Author   Science for the Gardener Book 

Secondary Science Resource to RHS Schools Gardening