Allotment Associations & Horticultural Groups in Harrow, Middlesex
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In the garden

Lawns: prepare the seed bed for a new lawn, and sow grass seed at 1-2 oz. per square yard. Re-seed worn areas and repair any ragged lawn edges. Time to smarten up your lawn, treating it with lawn sand if moss has grown during the winter. Lawn sand consists of a small amount of nitrogen, to make the grass greener, and some iron to kill the moss. Some gardeners give up the battle with moss and reason that it is green and let it dominate the lawn...

Roses: complete planting as soon as possible If you are buying new roses consider paying a little bit extra for a really beautiful one which has a powerful scent. After all, roses last such a long time and you will get real value for your money. Do not be tempted to buy a sale price rose which has been in a hot store for several months. Finish pruning the roses, which can be done when the roses are quite dormant.

There are different opinions when it is the best time to prune. Some say do it in autumn before the high winds arrive which can rock the bushes and cause damage. But make sure your secateurs are sharp so the cuts are clean. You may be able to ensure the cutting edge is sharp by honing with a finest grain carborundum stone or if you follow the dictum of having the best tools available you will have a Felco secateurs. You will never see an expert on T.V. without a bright red pair of Felco secateurs. With that colour they are easily spotted if you leave them on the ground. Also, you can buy replacement blades, but you might decide it is more economic to buy a cheap pair for £1.50 and replace them when they are blunt or go astray.

Pruning: first remove dead, diseased or frost-damaged growths, also crossing stems and cut twiggy shoots back to the main stem. Prune main stems to half their length, leaving one which should be cut to 6 inches above ground level. All cuts should be made sloping back ¼” above a dormant bud. The bud should be outward-pointing so that when it grows it will leave the centre of the bush open. For all other flowers start preparing the ground by digging and manuring.

Gladioli: can be planted between the second and fourth weeks, if the weather and soil conditions are favourable. Allow 8 inches between corms and 4 inches deep.

Snowdrops: should be left undisturbed for at least four years. If they then look overcrowded they can be lifted , using a fork when the tips of the leaves are turning yellow, After separating, plant them again straight away, at the same depth as they were before.

Heathers: from bitter experience I found they the winter-flowering ericas are easy to grow, but the summer-flowering callunas are not. But the Ericas make such a wonderful display. They can be planted during Spring, from march until May or you can propagate them by layers or cuttings.. for layers, select healthy stems from the outside of the plant and peg them down and place stones to keep them in position. If the stem is bent at an acute angle there is no need to make cuts. Leave the layers for about a year when they should be well rooted and can be detached from the parent plant.

On the allotment

Potatoes: plant early varieties from the middle of the month. The tubers should be 10-12 inches apart, planted in trenches 12 inches wide and 9 inches deep, and, of course, the soil to be enriched with manure or fertilizer.

Onion sets: should be sown this month or in early April. One good tip is to sow them first in a tray with compost so that roots are formed, then plant them out and the rooted onions will not be picked out of the ground by birds. If you do not take this preliminary step be prepared to go to your onion bed, a few days after planting, and put the onions back in the soil!

Tip of the month

There are so many jobs to do in the garden. You could spray the paths and drives with Pathclear that would kill all the weeds for the whole year. Also, it’s not too early to prepare for an unwelcome invader, slugs. Either buy slug pellets or let them die happy in a beer-filled slug trap.

Ralph of Roxbourne Society

•   March events.

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