Sunday, 28 February 2010

Thanks for all the rain - and snow

I'm so pleased that February has been cold, wet and windy. If it had been nicer, I would have been feeling guilty about not going out onto the allotment. But with sticky, clay soil, any work done there would just cause problems with soil structure.

Instead, I've been up to my neck with work. Writing and editing the RHS Allotment Journal has meant I've been burning the midnight oil, but it's more or less finished - just writing December's copy left to do.

I've also been continuing my Garden News tests and my garage has now been turned into Hodge's Gardening Emporium - 37 pairs of secateurs, the National Collection of Horticultural Fleece, boxes of just about every kind of granular fertiliser on the market and now six or seven small electric lawnmowers. My next request will be for bags of potting composts. I just hope I never need to actually get anything else out of the garage or I'll cause a product avalanche!

From March 3, I'm going to be presenting Garden Bargains on Ideal World three days a week. IW is launching a new channel, and Garden Bargains will be on from 1-6pm every day of the week. So, if you love doing your garden shopping from the comfort of your sofa, tune in and start buying!

Yesterday, I was down in Essex on Ken Crowther's gardening show on BBC Essex. As usual, an interesting mix of questions - although there was an emphasis on houseplants (I wonder why!) with amaryllis and orchids taking top popularity position. A lot of people wanted to know what to do with amaryllis after flowering. The easy answer is keep them growing for as long as possible to help feed the bulb for next year's flowering. Keep the compost moist, feed every 10-14 days and only remove the foliage once it starts to die down naturally.

Another popular question was what to do with shrubs and other plants damaged by frost and snow. Again, the answer is simple - leave well alone and wait until growth starts in spring. Once you know which branches are alive and growing, you can prune out and remove anything that's dead. If nothing regrows (but be patient and wait until the end of April or even May) - then the plant is dead and it's time to dig it up and put something new in its place; maybe from Garden Bargains!

Enjoy your garden - if you can get out in it, that is!