Colin Evans garden tips
Let Colin Evans put a spring in your step and start preparing the ground for tulips and spuds. Snowdrops are already poking their heads above ground and crocus shoots are peeping out, giving us a tantalising glimpse of spring days to come.
Snowdrops are now well and truly above the soil and showing us that spring in all its glory is just around the corner.
In fact as I write, the sun is shining through the study window and today I have switched on the pump in the pond to see just how the fountain has fared through the winter so far.
I am glad to report that all is working well and the fish are having a field day swimming through the bubbles and ripples caused by the cascading water.
The garden is showing the first signs of crocus as their their little green shoots are showing above the surface and the pink blooms of the Viburnum Bodnantense are already adding colour to the dark corners of many of the borders. On last Sunday's gardening program, one caller asked how he could make the best use of the garden in the latter part of the winter.
Cloches, is my answer. Glass types are the best but are now hard to get hold of unless you go to a specialist supplier, but you can get in touch with them by looking down the classified lists in magazines like "BBC Gardeners World".
Alternatively most garden centres sell the plastic types and providing you buy the better-made ones they will do as good a job as the glass ones, even though they don't look as pretty. Placed over an area of soil as winter gets underway the little cloches will dry out the soil and heat it up which means you can sow salads like lettuce and radishes and spring-flowering bulbs.
This means you will get results much sooner, and into the bargain get earlier colour and maybe some salad during March.
Viburnun Bodnantense 'Dawn' is one of the best earliest flowering shrubs. It will grow in most garden soils and conditions and will make rapid growth if it fed in spring and autumn.
1: A few weeks ago I told you haw to prepare the vegetable patch for planting potatoes. Now is the time to consider the varieties you might want to grow this season. My favourites are "Arron Pilot" a white type for an early crop, "Romano" a red type for a mid season crop and "Golden Wonder" for a late crop. Order your earlies now for planting out late March.
2: Cut some stems of early flowering shrubs like Viburnum Bodnantense and witch hazel and place in a vase indoors, the fill the room with the most wonderful perfume. Also, if your shrubs in pots are looking a bit under-nourished then scrape off a few inches of the existing compost and top up with new. This prevents the roots from getting disturbed and add valuable nutrients at a time when the plant is thinking about putting on growth for the spring
3: Add a little light mulch to borders where you expect your tulips to appear. This will give them some protection from hard frosts as they are emerging and if you have some handy, then a light sprinkling of sulphate of potash will help to feed the bulbs as the flowers develop.
Many gardens will be opening to the public soon, however, don't forget the flowers shows. Chelsea Flower Show will be held from 19th to 23rd May 2009 and you can only get to see the show with pre paid tickets.
If you are unable to go then sit in the comfort of your own home and watch daily coverage on BBC TV, or listen to the coverage on BBC Radio Berkshire.
last updated: 16/02/2009 at 17:15
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