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A carpet of green

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > In the Garden

Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 09:20

After such a long, wet winter and several appearances from the ‘Beast from the East’, spring has come very late this year. I reckon it is about 3 weeks later than usual, judging by the blossom on the ornamental cherries in the garden near my home. However, now everything is rushing to catch up and as the soil warms, plants shoot up – where once was brown earth is suddenly a carpet of young green leaves.

Choose ‘White Lady’ if you fancy white flowers
Sow some runner beans as the soil warms up, making a wigwam of bamboo canes for the beans to twine up. The cultivar ‘White Lady’ is very pretty if you fancy white flowers for a change. I make a hole before I sow the beans and empty my compost from the kitchen in there for a few days: peelings, teabags, etc. I then sow my beans on the top on a layer of soil at the usual depth, and this helps keep the moisture in which the beans so love.

Look out for the bright red lily beetles on your lilies and fritillaries. You can either just pick and squash or use an insecticide like Provado ultimate bug killer, which is systemic and will kill the larvae when they start to munch on the plant. The larvae are disgusting looking as they cover themselves with their sticky black poo, so gloves might be the order of the day!

You should be able to start hardening off tender herbaceous plants, such as geraniums or cosmos, which you may have bought in the tempting indoor displays in the garden centres and nurseries. If you stick them straight outside it can really knock them back, so it is best practice to spend a week or so of taking them outside during the day, and popping them back into the greenhouse or conservatory at night, gradually leaving them for longer and longer until they are out all night. Remember to keep an eye on the weather forecast in case of late frosts. You could make a cold frame out of old windows, Perspex off-cuts, etc. and place in a warm, sheltered spot. Raise the lid in the day to circulate the air and cover over at night if you have no greenhouse.

Give shiny-leaved houseplants a spring clean
Give shiny-leaved houseplants a spring clean by sitting them in the shower tray and gently showering with warm water to clean the dust off the leaves. As the weather warms up they can be sited outside, which benefits them after a winter inside. Don’t site them in full sunshine though, as it can scorch the leaves.

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