Our spring garden season is well on its way, even so it was partly disrupted by severe weather conditions we and the whole of Ireland experienced two weeks ago. We would normally be the last place to get snow but this time we were lucky or should we say unlucky,too. The garden had to be closed for three days since the garden paths were not visible anymore and the whole garden looked like a white blanket. Quite stunning to look at I have to say. But the snow was not the real problem; the freezing temperatures going down to minus 6 played a bigger role. These late frosts are creatinga few issues with early seedlings and the budding of fruit bushes. On the other hand low temperatures are important for the soil structure. Once we knew there was frost on the way we started to dig over the vegetable plots. The dry spells in between also helped and the plots got a nice preparation for the coming season. We also mixed well rotted manure into the plots for improving the level of nutrients.
Pic1 Our coldframes are covered under a foot of snow
Pic2 The Walled Garden under a white blanket
Pic 3 Crocus ‘King of Striped’ nestled in snow
Pic4 Frozen Waterfall in Kylemore
Pic5 The thaw after the big freeze
Pi c6 Jenny found a heated spot in one of our propagation boxes – to our dismay
Pic7 Freshly dug over plot in our vegetable garden
But few days of sun and warmer soil made the spring come back and the daffodils and Hyacinths jumped. The other spring bedding like Forget-me-not or Wallflowers are still behind and will probably only flower in two or three weeks time; all weather depending of cause!
Pic8 Narcissus ‘King Alfred’
Pic9 Hyacinth ‘Ann Mary’
I mentioned our seedlings earlier on. The propagation of the thousands of seeds still had to go ahead, despite the cold conditions. So once again our glasshouse is filled with little seedlings of vegetables and annual summer bedding. A good few seedlings like Calendulas, Cabbages or Tagetes are already big enough to be pricked out and potted on into bigger trays. Our space in the glasshouse is limited and warmer weather is needed very soon so we are able to move the many trays into our coldframes.
Pic10 Seedlings on mass
We just finished pruning all pear and apple trees, a time consuming job which should be done every winter. Diseased wood should be cut out and last years growth cut back by half, to an outer facing bud.
Our garden students Anna and Veronika had also a go; these are one of the experiences they get during their placement here in Kylemore Garden.
Pic11 Pruned Wall pear trees
Pic12 Anna & Veronika pruning an apple tree
It is also time to think about sowing the first potatoes. In order to do this they need to be put into light for budding about four weeks before planting. This process is called ‘chitting’.
Pic13 Chitting first early potatoes
And once again we were holding our annual tree planting week which is taking place during the first week in March.
All local national schools and our local creche took part again and planted native Oak and Birch trees. Especially for the creche it is a very special event and it is a pleasure to see the three to four year old children planting proudly their first trees.
Pic14 Our local creche children are planting a tree
We also had another rather unusual event last week. We received our first pigs since they used to keep them at the farm back in the old days. These two very unusual looking Kune Kune pigs, an old heritage breed originating in New Zealand from the 19th century, will add to our customer experience at the Victorian Walled Garden. They will be kept for show and not for the plate! The pigs use the lovely old Herdsman Bothy as they home with a grazing garden outside. Especially children will be amassed by the different looks, very unlike Peppa Pig! We will have a naming competition for the children attending the Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday.
Pic15 Arrival of our two Kune Kune pigs
Enjoy your spring garden!
Your Head Gardener
Things you can do in your garden in March
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Sow first early potatoes as soon as soil is warming up
~ Move vegetable seedlings of Lettuce, Radish and Kale into cold frames to be hardened off
~ Continue sowing summer bedding plants and prick out when big enough
~ First sowing of green manure
~ Take cuttings of non-flowering shoots of Pelargonium or Fuchsia
~ Plant Broad beans and stake well
~ Plant onions, shallots, garlic
~ Last chance to plant bare- rooted trees (Much cheaper than potted trees!)
~ Divide and transplant perennials in borders
~ Divide & replant chives (also great in borders and good for black flies on roses)
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Service all garden machinery before first use
~ Sharpen edging shears regularly
~ Cut back Willow hard for later use as supports, baskets etc.; grade and store in cool place
~ Last chance to prune Gooseberries, could be trained like cordons or fans along wires
~ Feed all fruit trees and bushes with potash
~ Feed herbaceous borders with soil improver like chicken pellets and own rotted compost
~ Feed Spring Cabbages with Seaweed powder