Garden Notes

Each year we look forward to spring to see the end of the dark gloomy days of winter. This is when the garden starts to wake up and the first signs of colour appear. You’ll soon be caught up in a frenzy of seed sowing, growing, and nurturing your garden as it comes back to life.

Beautiful Rhododendrons

The rhododendron is coming into its prime now and looks stunning in containers. Healthy rhododendron specimens have loads of colour, supported with lush green hardy foliage. There are shades to match all tastes, from light pinks to dark reds, purples, creams and white. The rhododendron is ericaceous or acid-loving. If you don’t have acid soil, plant it in generous amounts of ericaceous soil from the garden centre to give it a good start. You can also treat it to a regular ericaceous feed during the flowering season and when it finishes flowering.

Bluebell walk 2023

Help raise funds for the Heart of Kent Hospice by signing up to the annual ‘Bluebell Walk’ which will take place this year on Sunday 30th April 2023. The ‘Bluebell Walk’ attracted 1,500 walkers in previous years and we hope many more will sign up to take part this year and make it the best walk yet! The annual event sees walkers of all ages enjoy a ramble through the Kent countryside while enjoying the beautiful bluebell vistas. If you have any questions about the Bluebell Walk email or calling the Events team on 01622 790195.

Start sowing…

Nectar and pollen-rich hardy annuals, such as marigolds, Californian poppies (eschscholzia) and annual poppies (papaver) in open ground. These will attract the pollinators.

Myosotis ‘Forget-me-not’ During winter, forget-me-nots look like undistinguished leafy rosettes. But as spring advances, they turn into a carpet of flowers that form the perfect background to wallflowers and tulips. In borders they may be left to grow and seed themselves freely.

Polygonatum (Solomon’s Seal) A member of the Liliaceae family, Solomon’s Seal is usually thought of as being for a shady, of half shady spot and does well under trees or shrubs. It is largely pest and trouble-free and bears clusters of nodding, tubular creamy white flowers in spring.

Organic ways to combat pests

Use a pure wood ash feed: This contains potash which helps to make all parts of a plant less palatable to insects.

Rotate crops: Different crops take different elements from the soil so by rotating them it allows the soil to recover its nutrient status. These nutrients keep crops healthier, so they are better able to shrug off pests.

Attract natural predators: Encourage natural predators like hoverflies by planting nectar-rich flowers to attract the adults to lay eggs in your garden.

Feed the birds: Get birds to visit your garden by feeding them throughout the year. The birds will return the favour by catching garden pests.

What to do in the kitchen garden

  • Now is a good time for planting in the kitchen garden. Round and pointed cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi and lettuce are all available now as seedlings.
  • In the middle of April, peas and mangetout are sown out as well as seed potatoes.
  • In the cold frame or greenhouse early lettuces, cresses and radishes can be harvested.
  • Keep on top of weed control and continue through to summer.
  • Liquid feed fruit trees in pots with a balanced feed every fortnight.
  • Prepare runner bean supports for sowing (in
    May) or planting out (in June).

Sow and sow

Now is the time to begin sowing small batches of
beetroot and carrot seed, repeating every fortnight to ensure an succession of tender young roots from summer to mid-autumn.

Early direct sowings can be protected from cold weather under plastic cloches; once May is in sight they’ll likely survive unprotected.

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