With some rainfall this week we have been able to ease off the watering and even the grass is growing at last - despite the coldest Bank Holiday Monday on record! Mind you so are the weeds so keep on top of them, hoe before they get too big NOW!
We are being asked to lock away the mowers for May to allow wild flowers to become more established.
At the end of the month, you can count the flowers on your lawn to take part in the conservation charity Plantlife’s "Every Flower Counts" survey which you can access by clicking here. You'll then get your own Personal Nectar Score, which tells you how many bees your garden is helping to support.
When the risk of frosts is passed (perhaps a couple of weeks yet) we can start planting out.
Pinch out tips of bedding plants like these Cosmos when you're planting out. It might delay flowering but the extra flowers will make up for it!
Use your fingertips or a clean, pair of sharp scissors to snip off the top of the little plant's stem just above the point where a leaf or set of leaves connect to it.
Don't pinch right at the point where the leaves connect, or you may remove the bud that will become a new branch.
Now is the best time to prune forsythia as the flowers begin to fade.
Prune to shape by removing about a quarter of the length from all stems.
Every other year, prune about a quarter of all stems back to ground level from the centre of the bush.
A feed of Paca Punch Plant feed will be beneficial.
When we cut hedges in the winter, rather than burn or chip some of the larger clippings we stack them to one side and now they come in useful to support peas and beans. They also make it harder for pigeons to get at those lovely green shoots!
We love our Dahlias and they certainly love our borders and the Paca Poo we feed them.
A great way to propagate more dahlias is to cut off a few shoots as they emerge from the tubers as above.
Take cuttings when stems reach 7 to 8 cm long. Stems that are severed from the parent with a small amount of tuber intact are best. This is because the growth hormones needed for good root development are concentrated in the tuber.
Take a sharp knife and hold the chosen stem and push the knife into the tuber and under the stem to cut it away.
If some of tuber comes with the stem, you have a perfect specimen. If not, then cut the stem under a leaf node as shown in the picture below.
A leaf node is simple to spot as there is a swelling on the stem from which the leaves emerge. It should root easily as there is also a concentration of growth hormones in the leaf node. If you want to you could dip the cut stem into some hormone rooting powder but this should not be necessary.
Carefully tear or cut away any lower leaves on the stem and cut the top leaves in half to reduce the amount of surface area through which moisture can be loss.
Fill a pot with compost. Place a pencil into the compost at the edge of the pot to make a hole and put the stem in, gently firming the soil around it. Three cuttings can usually be fitted around the edge of a 9cm pot.
Water the cuttings and put a clear plastic bag over the pot, held in place with a rubber band. To reduce the potential for the cutting to rot if the atmosphere is too damp - don't overwater.
Cuttings will take 2-4 weeks to develop roots. Resist the temptation to pull the stem to see if it has taken. You will know when it has worked as the stem will begin to grow leaves and presto you will have new dahlia plants for free!
And Finally for this week, save the date for the Helmingham Hall Spring Plant Fair and Artisan Market on Sunday 30th and Monday 31st May. So much to do, see and buy. We will be there with our Moat Alpacas stand with Paca Punch Plant Feed so come along and say Hallo! We look forward to having a chat about Gardening, Alpacas, and their Poo!.