Because there are always arrivals and departures. This post covers not only the departures you should be saying goodbye to at this time of year, but also those arrivals you should be welcoming. I know it’s a tortuous stupid riddle, but as a lover of the works of Lewis Carroll I do love puns. Anyway, let’s get on with it, it’s raining and I’m stuck indoors; mind you every water butt and barrel is overflowing so deep inside my heart is singing.
19th April. Things I have been doing lately:
🛌 Putting bulbs to bed. If you have bulbs in pots, then it is time to say goodbye. If you don’t want them for next year then just stick them on the compost heap. If, however, you want to ensure good flowering next year then you have to put them to bed in the right way.
First you need to cut off the seed head, but leave most of the stem and the green leaves. By doing this you are stopping the plant spending energy creating seeds, and when you leave the stems and leaves you are allowing the greenery to funnel back goodness to bulk up the bulb for next year.
Once the leaves and stem have fully died back you can cut them off very close to the surface of the soil. Once the stem and leaves are cut off, scoop down into the pot and remove as much of the old compost as you can safely do without disturbing the bulbs. Then top up with nice fresh compost and leave the pots sitting at the back of your potting bench or somewhere out of the way in your garden. You can conclude by giving them a nice liquid feed, but it is not really necessary. Don’t forget to say goodnight and tell them how much you are looking forward to seeing them next year. It pays to be polite with bulbs.
The photos below show the bulbs at the start of their die back phase and then how the looked at the end. Finally you can see them safely tucked up for the year in their nice new compost.
👋 Saying goodbye to Iris. My flag Iris come up every year without fail and every two or three years I have to divide them as they are so prolific. They were divided last year, so all I had to do was get them ready for bed. Again, exactly like the bulbs. First cut off the seed head and then leave them for about three weeks. I will come back to the second stage later as I like to tell you about things as I do them so that you can get on with them as well .
The first photo below shows the Iris with their seed heads ready for cutting. The second photo shows them beheaded (off with their heads) I’m channeling Lewis Carroll again!
🍊 It’s all over for Oranges. I have four Orange trees and all of them fruit prolifically. This means that I am juicing 12-20 oranges every day from December till nearly the end of April. But all good things must come to an end. The trees are now all in full blossom so if there are any Oranges still on your trees pick them now as they will fall off soon anyway.
But if you want good fruit crops next year, then now is the time to feed your trees. You can use either a liquid or granular feed. I start off with a granular feed that will usually last 3-5months (depending on the make), but I also use a liquid feed a bit later on when the young fruit appear just to keep them happy.
The first photo below shows one of my smaller trees nicely in blossom. The second photo shows the granular food that I am using at the moment. The last photo shows the last of the crop waiting to be juiced.
✂️ Cutting back Jasmine. By now most Jasmine will have had their first flowering and will be looking bedraggled and brown; which reminds me I must tell Cruella (my wife) not to do so much sun bathing. Anyway, you can leave them as they are and just tidy them up a bit by putting on your gardening gloves and raking through the foliage. This will pull out all the brown dead growth and make them look a little better. But if like mine your Jasmine has grown tall and folded over at the top, then it is time for a radical prune.
Using hedge trimmers cut back the face of the plant taking it as close to your trellis as you can without cutting into the stems. When you have done this cut off the top to make it square to the plant and stop it falling over and killing the growth underneath. Lastly trim up the sides to keep the plant in shape and close you your trellis.
The first photo below shows my Jasmine in its dishevelled state. Whilst the second shows it trimmed up and looking a bit better. It will soon green up and flower again later.
🌼 The arrival of Marigolds. Regular readers of this blog will know that I choose the best seeds from last year’s crop of Marigolds and use them to create this year’s plants. This means that my Marigolds tend to be taller and more spectacular every year. But enough of this boasting.
Plant your Marigolds out when the seedling are 3 to 4 inches high and bushy. This will mean they have good strong roots and will quickly start to grow. The first photo below shows the planting process, from this you can see the plant is healthy with good roots showing. The second photo shows the Marigolds planted into their new home. You will see from this that they are in a mixed bed which should give me colour right through to October through succession planting. The final photo shows the slug and snail repellent that I have to use or else the Marigolds would be in shreds after one night. For some reason fresh young Marigolds are the favourite food of slugs and snails. So, if you done want to set out a banquet for the slimey ones, you need to use repellent.
By the way the mixed bed bed contains the following:
- Kaffir Lily
And will hopefully be supplemented later by Geum, Verbena and Gaura all of which I am currently trying to grow from seed.
One last thing on Marigolds you always need to keep a few plants as reserves as you can guarantee that despite your best efforts, the slugs and snails will get a few plants. After a couple of weeks your plants will have hardened up and will not be so easy to eat. Then just take your reserves and plant them in pots and dot them around your garden. As. Marigolds are annuals they do not need a large pot filled with compost so what I do is use old plastic pots as a cracking material in the bottom of each pot thereby mitigating the need to fill the whole thing with compost.
The first photo below shows my plastic crocked pots ready for planting. Whilst the second shows the Marigolds planted up ready to do their stuff.