Flowers & Garden


Get ready for gardening

During the winter months, hours of dreaming over garden catalogues are interspersed with pruning and making sure mulch is spread to nourish the plants.

Now, at the end of March, with rain and windy days transformed to warmth and sunshine, we are back at the start of another gardening year.

Where to begin?
Here are some tips on what needs to be done to get your garden off to a good start:

Perennial beds

Perennials flowers such as poppies, delphinium, hostas, astilbes and peonies are all well out of the ground. These are the staples of many flower gardens. They come back year after year and the initial investment is small compared to their contribution to the garden.

If you are starting a perennial bed, remember that the soil should be well prepared to a depth of one foot with lots of well rotted manure or organic matter added.
Be sure all the weed material is removed from the ground before you plant.
Divide perennials that have overgrown their places. Generally, after four years a perennial may need dividing.

If you are replanting a part of a divided plant in the same spot, be sure to add some compost to the soil. It will need the nourishment.
Swap some of your divided perennials with gardening friends - this is a time-honoured tradition among gardeners.
Read up on your plants before you divide them. Peonies, for example, dislike being moved and may not bloom for a year or two after being divided.
If you have a recently established perennial bed and your plants don't need dividing, just remove weeds carefully and add compost or mulch.

Vegetable beds
Dig over your vegetable garden now. The weeds haven't had a chance to take hold and the soil is moist. Add well rotted manure or composted organic matter to your garden.

Dig over the ground so that compost is mixed to a depth of one foot. If it is left on the surface, root vegetables don't get nutrients where they need them most.
Dolomite lime can be added lightly.
Build raised garden beds if you want to enhance your vegetable garden. These offer warmer soil and earlier crops - and they are also easier to work with.