Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Planning

It's the time of year again to think about preparing the garden for the year ahead. The repair of the red pergola is now underway and I have plenty of ideas on the other possible next projects for the garden. 

However it's also a good time to start planning for spring in the garden, and refreshing the plants after their winter break. As we look to create that jungle look the plants are often packed in and have to jostle for space, water and nutrients. 


We have been planning to put in an irrigation system at the jungle end of the garden where the moisture loving tree ferns are. The kit for putting this in has been in the shed for a couple of years so we must try and get these in this year. Having said that, the summers in the last couple of years have not really been dry enough to have had to worry about irrigation. Hopefully this summer won't be such a wash out as the ones before! 

We give the whole garden a boost of fertilizer each spring, usually adding chicken manure pellets by the bucket load or sack. We bought several sacks in bulk last year when a local store had a sale, and have some left for this year but only enough for one section of the garden so we'll have to buy more.
Pelleted Chicken Manure (photo from Compost Direct)
We do like using chicken manure in the garden, it's easy to distribute and is not too obvious from a visual point of view, but it is still a manure and the neighbours are probably not that keen when we first place it in the garden. However the smell does seem to go fairly quickly. 

Whilst pelleted chicken manure is a handy fertilizer to use on most of the garden it is not appropriate on the various potted plants we have - especially those with a gravel mulch on top! We tend to use liquid fertilizer or a powdered one such as 'blood, fish, and bone'  on the potted plants and always stock up on them in the autumn sales. Mark has a  'Stash in the Attic' and looks like we will be further reducing that in the coming months!




With the weather warming up (hopefully!!) not only do the plants start to grow again but the pests start to make a return. Slugs and snails try and eat the new shoots on plants like hostas, and the dreaded -vine weevils and their nasty little grubs re-appear. We tend to go for a double hit against the vine weevils, by use of chemical control and then also by introducing organic control in the form of nematodes. We do this twice a year, in both spring and autumn, Mark blogged about this last autumn.

Preparing the Nematodes
The final key part of preparing for spring is in mulching the garden, we like to refresh the way the jungle areas look by spreading a fresh mulch of bark chips over the ground. Helping to maintain ground moisture and suppressing weeds, ideally the mulch should be spread before many of the dormant perennials get going. Last year we ordered a jumbo bag of mulch rather than by purchasing it in smaller bags, saves on having to shift bags in the car and it was great having a large supply available for the garden. We will probably do the same again this year, ordering them once the weather warms a little more.

Spring is full of little jobs to do and I love it, rather than see them as chores I see them all as welcoming signs that the garden is waking up!

Gaz


27 comments :

  1. I still have to get out and get more fertilizer this Spring. Have enough to start the year with. I don't do a whole lot anyway. Don't know if I could do the chicken fertilizer. :)
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. It is a fairly easy one to use as long as you have a scoop to distribute it, but it can give off a pong for a few days!

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  2. That opening jungle scene belongs in a fine gardening magazine. I can just picture myself sitting on that bench and imagining I'm in Tahiti! Best wishes and happy Spring planning.
    David/:0)

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    1. Thanks David, we do love that first photo. I have to confess we didn't take that one it was by Loree from the Danger Garden blog when she came to visit.

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  3. We use the same ferilisers on this side of the planet - pelletise chicken manure is a staple, plus blood and bone and fish emulsion. They all smell but not for long. We also use the all purpose Miracle Gro as a foliar spray. The packaging even looks the same.
    Happy gardening. Your plants are going to love you with all that TLC.

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    1. hi Missy, interesting to hear things are pretty much the same for you too.

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  4. I agree, these little jobs are part of waking up with the garden, and with the added bonus that many of them can be completed in a short enough time frame to mean you don't freeze whilst doing them! I always see them as a time to get re-aquainted, though I always wind up standing apparently staring in to space for ages, while I mull possible tweaks and additions. It is even worse here, as everything is a matter of starting again!

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    1. I do that too Janet, a small job can end up taking longer as you contemplate what you want to do next!

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  5. Wondering if you'd advise . . . ? Our Chinese Windmill Palm which, last year, was looking a bit battered and sad, seems to be in very perky condition at present. It's in a very big pot and will have to stay there because we have nowhere suitable for it in the ground. If I took it out of its pot, I'd not get anything but roots back in, even if I were to manage that. And there's no room above them to churn the soil. If we are to keep it going . . . if I ran water through garden compost and watered with that (assuming some of the goodness is flushed into the water as it drains through) would that be a good way to feed it?

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    1. I am assuming the palm is a Trachycarpus. They like a higher level of water than many people expect, as well as being fairly hungry palms. As it needs to stay in its current home then I would top dress with some fresh compost - removing as much old compost as is possible first, and then regularly feed with whatever you have to hand. I'm not sure how much feed would pass through from the garden compost, but its worth a try.

      Blood fish and bone or any general fertiliser would benefit, although not until Spring arrives as you don't want to encourage it to push out too much growth whilst its still cool.

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  6. It must be lots of work for both of you throughout the year, not only in spring, right? Because you need to put those exotic plants away during winter and take care of them throughout the winter? I heard that there might be some snow storm on the way to London :-). So, spring is not there yet?

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    1. There has been quite a lot of snow in the UK over the last couple of days. Fortunately we have escaped this particular snow fall, which mostly fell to the South of London and also in the North of England. Hopefully we shall start warming up soon though!

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  7. Hi, Gaz. Yes, Trachycarpus. Thanks for the advice.

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  8. We've had a little break in the weather, and I can barely squeeze in time to see what blog pals are up to. Planting, weeding, cutting back is the current mantra around here. Hmmm...maybe I should add fertilizing to the list. We've never done much of that.

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    1. It can get very busy at this time of year, blogging has to find space in the evening - or when its raining!

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  9. Hooray for garden breakfast! Yum!

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    1. Nom Nom Nom for the plants :)

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  10. I agree - garden chores are so welcome! I'm intrigued by your one sentence about ideas for future projects!

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    1. Hi Holley, we do have a variety of ideas, some are more repairs than anything new, but we do have a string of other ideas to think about. Some will happen, some will evolve and i'm sure some will get replaced.

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  11. I also like to use the chicken manure in the borders at this time of year. I think the powder type of fertiliser can damage the emerging shoots. I also have had good results with the nematodes treatment for Rhododendrons which were becoming seriously damaged. Have a great gardening season.

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    1. And you too Alistair! Pelleted manure is so handy to use and so easy to scatter around.

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  12. I've never seen the chicken manure pelettes around here. I'm sure they're fantastic for improving soil. I normally mulch with our homemade compost and when I run short of that I'll buy composted cow manure. Our property is on glacial till so I've spent thirty-five years improving the soil here. I can't seem to add to much compost.

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    1. They are fantastic indeed Deanne! Would have loved to use homemade compost more often too, alas lack space prevents us from making loads, only a handful at a time from the wormery.

      Thirty five years, quite a dedication :) And indeed, you can never add too much compost (unless for a xerophytic bed of course).

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  13. Oh that jungle area is just like a beautiful oasis there! I've never used chicken manure before around my plants. I've always thought of allotments when I think of that fertilizer and rocket fuel!!!......I might have to reconsider. I was afraid that my plants would become too juicy for the greenfly Two weeks ago - up here in Scotland I had a big greenfly land on my hand as I was taking photographs. It would be a very brave one after the weather we've had this week!

    http://www.leavesnbloom.com/2013/03/whats-in-bloom-in-march.html

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    1. Thanks Rosie! We love the escapism of our garden :) We're keeping an eye on garden pests too and control them before they proliferate and cause so much damage.

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  14. Hi Gaz, you have shown us with your garden that your strategies are effective in your garden, and I am sure you're still improving on them, as most of us do with ours. At least in our garden, we don't need to buy manures or compost, our farm refuse are enough for our needs.

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    1. Thanks Andrea! It's great to have all that land there and accessibility to a farm and livestock where you can get manure from for free :)

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