Greenfingers - March 2018

Space in the greenhouse becomes something of a premium during March, with seed trays, pots of cuttings and dahlias, and tender plants waiting to go out, and is crammed by the end of April. The lemon and lime have been overwintered in the greenhouse to try to deter the scale insects, as they don’t like its higher humidity. Inspecting the leaves in early February, as I write, seems to confirm this.

The hyacinths grown for Christmas have done well, kept in a light, cool room before being brought into the warm, when the flowers and scent become a delight.

LambSweet peas have been growing in pots over the winter, with regular pricking out of the growing points to encourage bushy growth. Several seedlings are in each pot, and these will be planted as a single item with minimal root disturbance.

The RHS publish a list of the top 10 pests and diseases based on the number of enquiries received by the RHS gardening advice team, and for 2016, honey fungus was the top disease and has been for the last 21 years, and slugs and snails were the top pest. Which reminded me of John Crowther’s article about a hedgehog rescue in last month’s magazine, and the decline in hedgehog numbers.

Slugs and snails are high on the hedgehog’s diet, so gardeners might try to encourage hedgehogs into their plots, and put the slug pellets away, as a means of re-establishing nature’s balance. I’ve heard that another type of slug trap is a pot buried level with the soil surface and half filled with beer. However, it is important to place a twig in the beer to allow beneficial but wayward beetles to climb out. The twig escape route is too difficult for the slugs, as they are legless.

Two full moons again in January, on 2nd and 31st. The vernal equinox occurs on 20th March, and the clocks go forward by 1 hour on 25th giving more useful daylight for most people in the UK.

Pete Smith