Thorngrove’s head gardener, Chris Francis, gives his tips for what to do this month…
*Prepare vegetable seed beds. At the same time, start some seeds off under cover.
* Protect blossoms on apricot and peach trees
* Prune winter flowering shrubs that have finished flowering
* Divide bulbs such as snowdrops and plant them in the green (when the bulb still has leaves).
* Prune hardy evergreen hedges
* Renovate overgrown deciduous hedges
* Cut back deciduous grasses left uncut over winter and remove dead grass from evergreen grasses
* Start weeding if the ground is dry enough – this will save time in the summer
Left: Thorngrove’s range of primulas ready for planting. The garden centre has summer bedding plug plants coming in over the next few months – call us on 01747 822242 to find out what’s available.
Now is the time to chit your potatoes. How? Place your potatoes upright with as many eyes at the top as possible – an egg box works well. Place them in a light but frost-free place so they sprout before planting. This process takes about six weeks and produces a bigger harvest more quickly. For larger potatoes, you want potatoes with three or four tubers at the top so when ready to plant, rub off the excess ones (if you leave them on, you will get more potatoes but they will be smaller).
Plant your potatoes with the shoots up. Once the stems are about 23cm (9 inches) high, you need to start earthing them up – drawing soil up to the stems and covering them with soil. This protects against frost damage and light, the latter turning the tubers and therefore the potatoes a poisonous green. Early potatoes are ready for harvesting when the flowers open or the buds drop and the potatoes are the size of a hen’s egg.
Thorngrove Garden Centre, Common Mead Lane, Gillingham, SP8 4RE
Open 7 days a week; Monday – Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sunday 10am-5pm.