BRIAN KIDD: Hold your horses on spring planting

Take down your hanging baskets and put them away until May

Take down your hanging baskets and put them away until May

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Everyone seems to want to get on with the planting ready for spring, but do hold on until you have a frost which kills off the summer bedding plants before you rush to clear everything away.

Remember, winter is a bit shorter all the time you can see a few flowers and lots of foliage furnishing the garden.

If you would like to make a start, there’s nothing wrong with going out to buy some plants and looking after them in a nice, light place, so they continue to grow. If you do this you can select the colours you would like to see, so forget all about everything being ‘mixed’.

Hanging baskets are often a failure during the winter. It’s far too exposed up in the air with cold winds every few days, so take them down once they have stopped blooming, shake out the old compost and put it on to a border or into the compost heap. Then clean them up and put them away until May.

Use the upturned baskets to cover tulip bulbs in the rock garden.

To enhance a wall, because of the protection a wall affords, the flat-backed wall baskets are fine and a very good display can be achieved if they are fixed so that one is about two feet below the other.

While it may not be possible to achieve a cascade of flowers similar to those enjoyed during the summer, it can still look really good.

The compost for plant containers is quite important. Garden soil on its own is useless – we need a good compost. The John Innes number three is the strongest and a lot less likely to dry out or for that matter.

If you had summer plants in containers, it’s a good idea at this time of year to take out the top half of the compost, and to replace it with fresh compost.

This not only sustains the plants but gives you the opportunity to take out any vine weevil grubs, which may be devouring the roots of the old flowers.

Tubs, troughs and pots are best emptied completely. Some pieces of broken flower pot can be placed over the holes in the base, so the excess water can escape.

After emptying them out, half-fill them with the old compost and then top up with the new.

Next summer we shall have to renew the compost with fresh John Innes compost.

Remember to put all containers on little feet so that earthworms can’t get into the compost.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Before lighting a bonfire, please check there are no hedgehogs asleep in the base. Even if you live in a densely-populated area, it’s possible hedgehogs may have chosen your garden to hibernate in for the winter months.

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