Colin Evans garden tips
This week you'll find BBC Radio Berkshire's Colin Evans getting his hands dirty in the vegetable garden - though beware of those unexpected cold snaps!
I can't wait to get some vegetables and salads sown, now we are moving towards the growing season, and there are just so many to choose from these days.
Salad crops like radish, lettuce and beetroot are always a good bet as well as potatoes and globe artichokes.
Start preparing your lawn for spring
Loving the lawn
Also, at last, with the longer lighter days the grass seed I sowed some three weeks ago is showing signs of germination and the lawned areas are looking better already with that fresh green look.
The daffodils look great with my magnolias looking the best they have for years with their bright pink flowers. I just hope the frosts will stay away until the flowers have fallen.
Generally we can be assured that spring has arrived with April in the offing, but, as I have said recently, the odd cold snap is still not far away so go careful when planting out bedding plants fresh from the garden centre as these may still need a bit of protection to get them through the colder nights.
A supply of horticultural fleece is not a bad idea.
If you can't get this then some sheets of newspaper or old net curtain anchored down will suffice.
The problem at this time of the year is heavy rain which will cause water logging often followed by a dry spell and windy conditions which will dry out the soil surface.
Keep an eye on the ground and water if plants look a little thirsty.
I like exotic plants in my garden and if you want a plant to look the business either in a pot or in the open ground then you will not be disappointed with Cordyline 'Sundance'. This group of plants, and there are many varieties, will make what can only be described as a bit of a statement.
Planted in Terra Cotta pots and stood on a patio, decking or terrace this plant will make you feel that you are in an exotic hotel somewhere in the South Pacific.
Use general potting compost with plenty of drainage when potting up or if you are planting in the open ground then dig in plenty of sharp drainage material like sharp sand or gravel.
Given a little shelter, these handsome plants will give pleasure year after year.
An array of vegetables
In the vegetable garden
In the vegetable garden the soil should now be just about right, especially if it is on the moist side and has had plenty of sun over the past few days.
Once we are into the first weeks of April just rake over the surface to a fine tilth and firm with a shovel or the back of a rake until the ground is fairly level.
With the aid of a straight edge or line make some shallow drills and sow lettuce, radish, beetroot, onions, carrots, parsnips, peas, and Chinese leaves.
I also like to grow shallots which are basically onion bulbs that are simply planted into the ground with the tops just showing above the surface and are good if you cannot wait for the onion seeds to turn into harvestable bulbs.
If you like herbs, then chives are a good bet at this time of year.
They can be sown in pots under cover, as chives are not frost hardy, and left to germinate until they are a few centimeters high.
Once the seedlings are growing well, then take out the whole clump, in other words don't separate the group, and plant the whole clump either in another larger pot or into the open ground.
They won't last through the winter outside but if you keep them well watered and fed then you will have masses of chives to use throughout the summer and into early autumn.
Prune shrub roses back to new shoots growing at the base of the stem and remove all old and diseased wood.
Loosen the soil at the base of the roses and apply a couple of handfuls of Sulphate of Potash or bone meal to feed through the spring months when the plants will be making plenty of growth.
Firm in around the base to ensure that the plants have not been rocked about by strong winds during the winter and give a good drenching with a liquid rose feed.
Watch out for pests and diseases and treat early at first signs of attack and you will have roses to be proud of.
last updated: 31/03/2009 at 11:34
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