March in the garden

tomatoes

Posted on: 5th March, 2014

Category: Home, Garden & Environment

Contributor: West Cork People

by John Hosford 086-4426450 www.facebook.com/TheWeekEndGardenCentre

As we move into March, many perennial plants are coming back to life and seed sowing under cover will also be progressing.

Pelargoniums/Geraniums
Increased light levels and temperatures should stimulate new growth from overwintered Pelargonium. Plants that were brought indoors prior to the winter should be cut hard back to about 10-15cm (4-6”). Cut with a sharp, clean secateurs. Cuttings that were rooted in the autumn should be repotted upwards to the next size pot, for example from a 3” to a 4” pot. Always use fresh compost when repotting and discard any diseased shoots. Any excessively long shoots should be trimmed back.

Geraniums/Pelargoniums will appreciate weekly liquid feeding of a good liquid fertiliser such as Brandon Tomato Food. Gradually increase watering and liquid feeding, as the days lengthen. Use the opportunity of any fine calm days to ventilate glasshouses, polytunnels or conservatories.

Try to water early in the day to reduce water and humidity remaining overnight, which will make the plants more susceptible to fungal infection. Keep the temperature about seven degrees C (45f). If any excessively cold weather arrives cover the plants overnight with newspaper or frost protection fleece. Control pests as soon as detected and don’t allow the pest population levels to spiral out of control. Pests to watch for early in the year include aphids and whitefly. Caterpillars are more of a summer/autumn problem but vigilance needs to be maintained at that time of year. Treat immediately on detection.

Dahlias/Begonias
Dahlia and Begonia tubers may be brought back into growth during March and April. Check stored tubers for rot. Discard any that are diseased. Commence watering, increasing amounts as days lengthen. You can start your Dahlia and Begonia tubers in pots or trays. Keep frost-free until all frosts have disappeared in May. Protect against slug damage especially during mild, damp spells.

Roses
Complete pruning of roses now. Gather up the prunings and dispose off site. Commence spraying of roses against blackspot and mildew. Watch for early aphid infections.

 

Providing colour now
Camellias are a superb shrub in a wide variety of colours. They come in single, semi-double or fully double blooms. Ideal in west or north facing aspects. Use lime-free compost when planting. Camellias make ideal shrubs in tubs or containers. Colours: red, white, pink, cream or bicolours. Camellias have luxuriant,glossy foliage.

Narcissi come in a great variety of heights and colours from 10-40 cm(4-16”) and are looking good now in containers, lawns or borders.

Crocosmia Lucifer may be planted now in a sunny or semi-shaded border. They will flower from July to September. The variety Lucifer has a brilliance of colour not matched by any other variety with its electrically, hot, vivid, red colour. Plant in bold groups for the most dramatic effects.

Tomatoes 

Tomatoes are a very rewarding crop to grow and there are a huge array of varieties in a variety of colours, sizes and shapes. They can be grown in gardens, greenhouses, patios, balconies and containers.

Tomato seed needs to be sown now. Sow the seed in clean pots or seed trays. Use a good seed or multi-purpose compost. Level and firm the compost, then water. You can level the compost with a builders float. Water the compost with a fine rosed watering can. Sow seeds carefully spaced out. Cover on sowing with a layer of vermiculite. Keep temperatures at 21 degrees C (70F), ideally in a heated propagator or hot press. Transfer seedlings to a heated greenhouse or if that is not available a good, bright sunny windowsill. Seedlings emerge after about five days. Place them in the best possible light — maintaining a temperature of around 18 degrees C. Keep in the best possible light as if the plants become drawn and leggy at this critical stage you won’t be able to rectify this later.

Transferring Seedlings
Seedlings should be large enough to transplant out into separate pots of compost two to three weeks after sowing. Water the pots of compost prior to planting out. Make a hole in the compost large enough to take the roots and lightly firm the seedling in place. Water in after planting with tepid or lukewarm water. Reduce the temperature to 21 degrees C (60f) when plants reach 15cm(6”).

Varieties/Cultivars
Ferline: Good flavour with some blight resistance.
Alicante: Heavy crops of sweet, medium sized fruit.
Gardeners Delight: Small, cherry sized fruits, deliciously addictive flavour. Grow indoors or outdoors.
Tumbler: A trailing tomato that can be grown in hanging baskets. Quick to mature, tremendously popular.

Other vegetables to sow now:

Cabbage, lettuce, leeks, onions and leeks may be sown under cover now for transplanting outdoors later.

 

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