Compost - News and articles to enrich your gardening experience
Weeds are starting to show their ugly heads - keep them under control!
Tie in climbing and rambling roses.
Sow Hardy annuals, herbs, and wildflower seeds outside after frost have finished.
Increase the water given to house plants.
Give hungry shrubs and roses a feed and mulch after a rainfall.
Sow new lawns or repair bare patches.
Protect fruit blossom from late frost.
Make a note of any gaps in spring planting ready for putting bulbs in autumn for next year's flowers.
Pot up Dahlia tubers.
Plant evergreen trees and shurbs.
Plant main crop potatoes.
Mulch soft fruit.
Garden Tasks for April
An article by Bloms Bulbs
Don't forget to water your bulbs
My local forecast shows the weather gradually warming, especially by next weekend, although there is a distinct lack of rain in the predictions.
All the persistent heavy rain this winter can leave a surface crust on the soil, known as soil capping. It is important to lightly rake any affected areas or just loosen the soil with a garden fork. This will allow water to penetrate to plant roots and help aerate the soil. Any lack of rain at this time of year makes it important to check your pots and containers at least once a week to make sure they do not dry out. Once they start growing spring bulbs do consume a lot of water.
Although I have covered this before it is worthwhile remembering that many of the spring bulbs, especially where they have been undisturbed for four or five years, will benefit from lifting and division. Large clumps competing for water and nutrients can lead to a lack of flowers, bulbs coming up “blind”. As a bonus, you get to increase your stocks. For the smaller bulbs, while they are in “the green”, now is an ideal time to do this. Many are hard to find if you wait for the foliage to die back. Below are the main considerations to bear in mind.
Only divide the clumps when the bulbs have finished flowering. Much of the energy needed to bulk up the bulb will come from the sugars in the plant, not just the roots. This is a job to do when the ground is damp. If you have a dry area water an hour before you start.
As far as possible try and lift the bulbs as one clump. Gently break the soil apart into clusters of half a dozen bulbs if they are small and immature, or single bulbs where they are of a good size.
Prepare the ground thoroughly working in any additional compost as required and replant the bulbs to the same depth as they were originally planted.
Give them a good watering and look forward to next year’s show.
Letter from the Chairman
It has been a joy to walk around the village these past few weeks and see the emergence of so many snowdrops closely followed by bright spring bulbs. Brickle Pocket Park was a carpet of white snowdrops and provided a wonderful space for contemplating how amazing the world of nature can be. It is also a timely reminder that we can lift, split and replant clumps of bulbs.
The milder days which followed the blanket of snow gave gardeners the perfect opportunity to make a start on preparations for the true onset of spring, and for many of us it was a pleasure to be outside amongst the snowdrops, hellebores and crocuses, whilst taking in the perfume of sarcococca and daphne blossoms. The welcome warmth certainly woke up the hungry solitary bees in anticipation of finding a nectar feast – and they weren’t disappointed as can be seen from the accompanying photos. Frogs have returned to the ponds and the resulting spawn hopefully means an abundance of slug-hungry froglets.
Nothing is worse for a keen gardener than to find a treasured plant decimated by a slug or snail attack. Following advice from the UK expert committee on pesticides and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Government now considers that metaldehyde poses an unacceptable risk to birds and mammals and will be phased out by 31 March 2022; this has been welcomed by organic gardeners to help in the reduction of chemicals harmful to our friendly insect populations.
It is interesting to hear about the many ways used to try and keep tender plants from being a slug and snail banquet. Some folk are torchlight searchers, hand-picking the little monsters as they emerge at night. Others have tried the scooped-out half of orange, grapefruit or melon method, spent coffee grounds, an application of slug nematodes, and a favourite seeming to be a beer pool (although I tend to think this could be because only a small amount of beer is required, so consequently being necessary to drink the remainder!). A recent Royal Horticultural Society report though appears to find no reduction in slug damage from barriers made of copper tape, bark mulch, eggshells, sharp grit or wool pellets, which no doubt is a disappointing result for those who wish to dispense with chemicals. No doubt innovative solutions will continue to be trialled but as we await in anticipation of success we should remember to encourage hungry birds, hedgehogs and frogs into our gardens to help make an impact on unwelcome pest invasions.
The Club’s Annual Spring Show will be “what the village would have seen if the Show had taken place!” Photos of spring flowers and arrangements will be displayed on our website www.silverstonegardeningclub.org from 3 April 2021 so everyone can still enjoy the wonderful colours of spring, albeit in a virtual format.
This year could once again see a surge in the number of budding gardeners as so many people have had time to think about making a special and beautiful area outside. With this in mind , the Gardening Club intend to hold their popular Plant Bring-and-Buy on Saturday 8 May 2021 outside St Michael’s Church, proceeds from which will be used for Silverstone Flowers to enhance the centre of our village for all to enjoy.
Silverstone Open Gardens will take place on Sunday 27 June 2021 so please put a note in your diary – it is a great opportunity to wander around the village and meet people who are happy to share their varied and delightful gardens whilst raising money for Cynthia Spencer Hospice, Northampton.
St Michael’s Church will also have a plant stall at the Plant Bring-and-Buy, and on Open Gardens day they will be supplying welcome refreshments which will also enable funds to be raised for our beautiful church.
Please keep an eye on our website for relevant information and Club contact details.
Chairman - Silverstone Gardening Club
I was once told “only friends of the devil can grow parsley” This was a bit disconcerting at the time as I had a huge bed of it! However, since then I’ve not had so much success, but this video clip by Sarah Raven might help any having similar problems:
Also there is an article all about herbs on the Garden Reads Page.
The Gardens at Waddesdon are open now. Such a beautiful place to visit and it’s not far. Of course you do have to book now. Click the link to find out more:
Whittlewood Concept is a group of coppicers based in Whittlewood who share a vision of regenerating the ancient coppicing systems, making them viable for future generations whilst protecting the environment and habitats for wildlife.
We have designed and built our own Charcoal Retort – a charcoal wood burner that is a fuel saving and cleaner method of producing charcoal than the old charcoal burning methods.
We produce a variety of charcoal products including Biochar - the term given to charcoal that has been ground into a granular size between 0 – 8mm. This is of particular interest to gardeners, as added to your compost – just a couple of handfuls every so often to your heap - will help retain its moisture, nutrient and microbe levels.
Also of interest to gardeners are the pea and bean sticks we produce.
We have a special offer on for Silverstone garden members until the end of May:
Biochar - 10litre bag - £15.
Bundle of bean sticks – £15 for 11.
Pea sticks - £7.50 for 10.
We can deliver to you, just call/text us or email: Jon - 07731978849
Discover more about Whittlewood Concept at:
Saturday 20th March is officially the first day of Spring but for gardeners it really starts as March arrives, with longer days and a little warmth in the sun. Heralded by the first daffodils, their cheerful golden heads dancing in the wind, who could not be uplifted? Their Latin name, as I’m sure you know, comes from Greek Mythology. Narcissus, the beautiful but arrogant son of the river god, was admiring his reflection in the water, when some say revengeful nymphs transformed him into the flower. Others think he drowned trying to capture his reflection, and the flowers growing along the riverbed were named after him. I rather like the latter story – it conjures up a lovely image of the vain chap falling in the river!
However, the story of Narcissi I like best, is that of Gloucestershire farmer, Winston Howe’s tribute to his late wife, which combines loving memories in the form of her favourite flower – the daffodil. In 1995 he planted a six-acre field with six thousand oak saplings around a huge heart in the centre. He planted the heart with daffodils and placed a seat where he can sit and ponder on his life with his adored wife. Now a mature forest, it can only be viewed from above – by his wife, Janet. Who said February was the month for romance?
Keeping the Garden Healthy
Continue to remove dead or dying leaves from plants indoors and out. Put them on the compost heap. Good hygiene is an essential part of keeping the garden healthy. Botrytis (grey mould) will attack any dead plant material. Once established, it will quickly move onto living plants and cause extensive damage, sometimes even plant death.
Remove old mulches (compost them) to get rid of overwintering pest-pupae. Then hoe around the base of fruit trees and bushes to expose overwintering insects to hungry birds.
In warm spells, early aphid colonies can build up on new buds. Squish them off with your fingers to prevent a build up.
Bury stems and stumps of overwintered brassicas - in a compost heap, or a trench in the ground - as soon as they have finished cropping. This will help reduce the population of mealy aphids and whitefly which otherwise would simply move on to your spring-planted crops.
Check plums, damsons and gages for signs of the plum leaf-curling aphid. This tiny green aphid can hatch as early as mid-January. If seen, spray with insecticidal soap.
Encourage birds (especially blue tits) into your garden by putting up nest boxes. A hungry brood in the spring will be fed many hundreds of caterpillars and other pests every day by the parent birds.
Suttons Seed Catalogue 2021
All members are entitled to a discount from the
2021 Suttons Seed Catalogue.
The discount code is available from the