Les’s Patch column

Les Foden.
Les Foden.

When dividing herbaceous perennials cut the stems down, dig up the clump of roots, place on a piece of polythene and break the root clump into pieces with a trowel.

You may need to use two garden forks back-to-back to split the roots apart.

To prepare the ground where the divided plants will be used fork over the soil and remove any weeds. Sprinkle blood, fish and bone over the area then add compost or well rotted manure.

Preparation is the most important job when planting.

Plant only the young, healthy divisions taken from the outside of the clump of roots and discard any old wood centres. Firm in thoroughly and water well. Sprinkle some slug pellets around and use a mulch to keep the weeds at bay and the moisture in.

The great news for tomato growers is that the world’s first fully blight resistant tomato variety for outdoors has been introduced. The blight can kill a plant off within a week.

But the new variety, Crimson Crush, can produce great crops of large, tasty tomatoes, each weighing seven ounces.

Trim back pansies and violas which will encourage new growth for a good spring show. If this isn’t done the plants struggle all winter and do not do well in the spring. Sprinkle some slow release fertiliser around the plants.

Pull off the old leaves of hellebores so that the emerging flowers will be more easily seen.

When planting shrubs, trees, roses, fruit bushes, etc, don’t plant any deeper than the soil mark on the stem. Place fresh compost at the bottom of the planting hole to help the plant settle.

If new plants are bare rooted give them a good soak in a bucket of tepid water for about an hour.

Bags of compost should be placed in the greenhouse to warm up which will give seeds and seedlings a better start than using compost directly from outside which would be cold.

Also fill a couple of watering cans and leave in the greenhouse to warm.

Make sure you have labels, pens and dibbers to hand in preparation for the busy time to come in the greenhouse.

I would say hold back a couple of weeks or so before starting because in this part of the country the weather is always a little behind the southern weather.

At the end of this month and into March there is more light which is very important for plant growth.

Then sow tomatoes, lettuce, cauliflower, onions, peas, leeks and aubergines.