“I love spring. Lawn grass is growing, spring bulbs are flowering, growth buds are swelling and our native wild birds are busy building this year’s nurseries.”Paraic
Ah spring, such an exciting time of year! Daffodils are dancing in the wind and lambs are frolicking in the fields. We are greeted with light in the morning and the evenings are stretching into the night; our days are once more filled with opportunity. What does this mean for us gardeners? It means that spring has blessed us with a precious gift. The gift of time.
So how do we use this time effectively? Here I’m talking you through some of my top recommendations for getting the most out of your garden in March.
After a long winter our lawns need some TLC. Thankfully, you can have a lush green lawn with just three simple steps. Now is the ideal time to take the first step and soon your lawn will be looking its sumptuous green self once more.
One of my favourite spring flowering plants is the Campanula Porto, also known as the Blue Bellflower. This low-growing flower blooms from March to early May. It is easy to grow as it grows in all soil types and is ideal for planting in groups along borders and in raised flower beds. The Blue Bellflower is a welcome addition to every spring garden, bringing beautiful and vibrant colour.
Another stunning collection of spring flowers are the Alpine plants. They are a range of hardy, low-growing, creeping border flowers. Alpine plants flower every year and if planted in groups they create a beautiful cluster of long-lasting colour in rockeries, borders and flower beds. Alpines are also ideal for planting in pots and containers. Some of my favourite plants in the Alpine collection include the Primula, Phlox, Dianthus and the Aubrieta. Alpines need very little care making them particularly useful in the garden, a sunny spot and free draining soil is the main requirement and they will give you enjoyment for years to come.
Sow and Grow
- Blueberries are a super-food linked with numerous health and wellness benefits. Thankfully, they are also fun to grow and produce a fantastic crop of flavorsome juicy blue fruit. They are also fantastic for adding vibrant and eye-catching colour to a garden. You can grow blueberries in pots and patio tubs. When planting, use GroWise compost and whilst growing, feed the plants with Gro-Sure plant food. Blueberries fruit over a long period, meaning you will enjoy regular fruits from June to September.
- Pear and plum trees grow well and fruit reliably in Ireland. In order to achieve the best results plant the trees now on a sunny, south facing wall or trellis. Train your fruit trees to act as a wall cover, the protection from the wall will help to ripen the fruit and encourage strong growth. The best plum variety I grow is called the Victoria – a tasty, juicy fruit produced in abundance from mid July.
- Rhubarb is an easy to grow and bountiful fruit. I recommend planting the Timperley variety now, which will be ready for consumption in early April. When planting, add some GroWise compost and a handful of Osmo Pro 6 fertiliser.
- Nothing beats the taste of homegrown, new potatoes. Eating those thin-skinned, balls of floury goodness is a highlight of the gardening year. My favourite variety of potato is the Irish variety Colleen. They are easy to grow, blight resistant and packed full of flavour. Start growing the Colleen potato now, in a pot or raised bed, for a crop of new potatoes come June. Read more about growing your own potatoes here.
- Do you want a quick and easy way to grow some of your 5 a day? Then choose a selection of the Speedy Veg & Salad seeds from Suttons. The Speedy Veg & Salad seeds offer you a range of edibles that can be harvested in as little as three weeks. If you have limited time, space or gardening skill then consider growing some micro-green seeds including micro broccoli, peas, cress and alfalfa. They can be grown indoors on a warm windowsill, and will provide you with tasty, nutrient-dense, ‘fast food’.
- Suttons also offer a large range of popular vegetables in their seed tape collection. These seeds are impregnated into a special tape that you simply roll out, into your garden soil, and cover with soil. Just add water and hey presto the vegetables start to grow through the soil within a couple of weeks. The seeds are specially spaced along the tape to save you having to “thin” or space the seeds when planting. They are so simple, yet so effective.
- Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and leek plants are all available now for planting in your borders or grow bags. The variety of cabbage I recommend is the Hilton. It produces deep, green, cone shaped heads six weeks after planting. Plant Hilton cabbage every two weeks for regular pickings all summer long.
- Sow White Lisbon seed now for a harvest of spring onion from June to August. Sow the seeds into well prepared ridges or borders for a crop of rich, green, great tasting salad onions.
Look After Your Wild Birds
In March, our garden birds seek out nesting locations to rear their young. Help your garden song birds by adding a nesting box to your garden this spring. Erect your nesting box in a tree between north and east to avoid strong sunlight and wet winds. Read about the benefits of a wild bird presence in your garden here.
So make the most of the opportunities that spring has given us. Savour your day and savour your garden. Remember, the secret of getting ahead is getting started!
Not to be missed: Paraic will feature live on Virgin Media Ireland AM on Wednesday 6th and 27th March. He joins Pat Kenny on Newstalk FM after 11.30am on Wednesday 13th and 27th March. He is also back with his weekly gardening show on Midwest Radio, every Saturday morning from 9 -10am.