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Sunday, 11 March 2018

March News from Upchurch Horticultural Society - From the Potting Shed



Sponsored by Upchurch River Valley Golf Club - www.rivervalleygolf.co.uk

March is the month when things start to get going and take a look at www.thompson-morgan.com for a list of jobs to do this month. The main things to remember are to have a good spring tidy up, prepare the borders and vegetable patch and apply a balanced fertiliser (eg Growmore N:P:K 7:7:7). Get the chitted early potatoes planted by the end of the month (I'm sticking with Rocket), sow any perennial flower seeds, put hardy annual seed straight into the ground and prune the roses.

There are several different types of rose and spring pruning applies mainly to what are called the bush roses or more specifically hybrid tea roses and floribundas. It's best to wait until after the winter when the plant is coming out of the dormant period and the buds are visible. Climbing and rambling roses and roses that are not repeat flowering (remonant) can be pruned after flowering has finished in the autumn.

The purpose of pruning is to encourage strong new growth which produces better flowering and maintains a balanced shape. Older wood loses vigour and produces fewer flowers and is more prone to disease. So the first priority is to cut out any dead, diseased or damaged wood which naturally dies back to a new shoot, bud or even to the grafting point which should be just above the surface of the soil. Next prune out any weak stems which will not produce good flowers and crossings stems which can chaff against each other and become diseased. Old wood can be pruned back to a healthy new green shoot and long shoots pruned back to a healthy bud.

A lot of gardeners shy away from hard pruning roses and do little more than deadhead but this will result in a lot of tangled thin stems which will not produce much flower. Hard pruning will produce the vigorous fresh green growth that the plant needs. Remember to try and open up the centre of the plant and cut out some of the inward growing wood and when pruning cut back to an outward facing stem or bud. Make an angled cut with sharp secateurs with the cut sloping away from the stem or bud so that water can run off.

Apply a slow release rose fertiliser and mulch with well rotted manure avoiding contact with the stems. Fertilise again in the summer after the first flush of flowers. That should keep your roses in good shape. Another point is to keep yourself in good shape and wear gloves when pruning.

Hopefully you are ready to start implementing your plans for this year and itching for the spring to arrive. April and May are the really busy months but a lot of preparation can be done in March. I did get my broad beans in, the leeks sown and made a start on weeding and tidying although still trying to get the last of the spring bulbs planted. One other thing I would like to do in March is to sow a tray of lettuce and repeat through the summer. This will be a lot of lettuce but will start lifting them when they have a few small fresh leaves which are great in a sandwich. As they heart up the bigger leaves can be used in salads. My favourite are Little Gem and well worth trying.

Still a bit cold and wet out there, so another log on the fire and let me see if I have a can of something in the fridge.

We are always looking for new members and try to encourage a fun attitude towards friendly competition. So if you want to grow your own fruit, vegetables and flowers or even enter any of the 3 shows we hold each year, then please get in touch, we would be happy to hear from you.

If you are interested in becoming a new member, (all ages are welcome), please contact Rosey on: 01634 377812 (evenings) or Email: rosemary@ringwoodaccounting.co.uk

Sean Barry - Upchurch Horticultural Society
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