Now the clocks have gone forward this gives a little more time for gardening.
In the flower garden roses need pruning. They could have been pruned sooner but it is always the weather that decides when this job can be done. Recently we have had cold, strong winds which isn’t the weather for pruning plants.
When pruning make sure the knife or secateurs are really sharp to give a clean cut with no jagged edges. Cut out dead, worn-out shoots and useless twiggy growth, especially in the centre of each bush.
Each cut must slope at a fairly acute angle just above a bud or eye pointing outwards or in the direction you want the growth to develop. Congestion at the centre of the bush must be avoided.
Bush roses should be pruned hard. If lightly pruned year after year the tendency will be for the flowering shoots to be produced higher up each season while the base of the shoots will become bare.
On hybrid tea roses that are vigorous, each main branch can be safely cut down to a third of its original length. Shoots which spring up from below the point at which the rose was budded are suckers. Remove them at their point of origin.
To do this scrape away the soil carefully taking care not to disturb the roots.
Then, wearing gloves, pull the sucker off in the direction in which the root to which it is attached is growing, away from the centre of the plant. The older the sucker the more difficult it will be to remove.
Give rose bushes a spray with Provado Ultimate Bug Killer which will give six weeks protection against greenfly, etc. And for protection against black spot and fungus, spray every two weeks with Rose Clear 3. Also when the soil is wet apply a mulch of manure.
Plant out sweet peas, violas, pansies and carnations. Always bear in mind that here in the north we are at least a fortnight behind in planting to those down south.
In the fruit garden spray fruit trees and bushes with lime sulphur. Spray strawberry plants to give protection from weevils and red spider, again use Provado.
In the vegetable garden lift and divide mint and chives. Plant globe artichokes and an asparagus bed. Sow broccoli and plant out second early and main crop potatoes. Stake peas as soon as needed. Prepare marrow beds and sow French beans towards the end of the month.
If the predictions are right about having a very hot summer this year we need to make ready for this as soon as possible. Make sure the ground is quite wet from any rain, or give the ground a good soaking with the hosepipe, then apply a mulch (spreading compost, etc, around the plants) at least three inches deep. This will keep the moisture in.