Hello again! Did you manage to plant out any Strawberries yet? As the garden comes alive with buds and wildlife, I am having to make sure I hide from all the birds looking for food! So, make sure you protect your Strawberries.
The warmer weather has encouraged growth spurts in all plants, as climbing plants develop this new growth needs to be tied in. This allows you to train the growth in the direction you would like it to go, whether it’s to cover a wall or to create a screened area. This will also help to stop the climbing plant getting tangled up in neighbouring plants and restricting their growth.
Equally it is time to stake your perennials. Doing this will help to protect stems from damage by supporting them and enabling you to train the plant to grow upright, stopping it from covering and smothering neighbouring plants. It is easier to stake them early when leaves haven’t formed, allowing you to place the stake in the correct place without the risk of damaging growth or buds.
Now is a good time to feed plants, as they are beginning to grow and develop buds. You can do this by sprinkling fertiliser on the soil surface and work it into the topsoil with a hand rake. Similarly for plants in pots, you can remove the top couple of centimetres of soil and replace with new compost that has feed already mixed in. It is also the perfect time to feed your Roses and shrubs, spread a handful of fertiliser around the base and dig it in, roses need at least two feeds each summer.
If it is warm, late May is normally a safe time to plant out bedding plants. Bedding plants do not like being planted out in the cold, this is due to them being grown in perfect, protected conditions (if bought from the garden centre). They will need time to harden off before they are planted in their final position or protect them with cloches and fleece on cold days and nights. Planting them in the cold will delay their growth and flowering for several weeks.
Now, I understand that I am not considered cute. I don’t have a soft fluffy coat, or puppy dog eyes or even have eyes for that matter. But we are garden’s hardest workers, we are ‘nature’s ploughs’, we are important. But we are declining.
We provide a range of benefits to your garden. Firstly, we love to eat rotting organic material, which means that we excrete castings that are high in nitrogen and phosphate. A brilliant natural fertiliser! We burrow through the soil, being ‘nature’s ploughs’ allowing oxygen and water to reach the roots of plants and grass. This channelling and burrowing loosens the soil, which in turn improve soil drainage.
Overall, we help to improve your soil structure, its water movement, nutrient cycling, plant growth, provide channels for root growth and we increase the soil’s microbial diversity. If you have loads of us in your garden, it’s a sign that your garden system is healthy. If not, there are a number of ways you can encourage us back.
If you build it, we will come.
Adding our favourite food source, organic material like compost, to your garden we will actively seek it out and we will travel quite far distances to do so. Our skin is very delicate, and we absorb anything you add to the soil, so please stop using pesticides and chemicals. These burn our skin and cause us to die, along with many other organisms in our eco system. Ensure you give your garden a long, deep watering, so that the water penetrates deep into the soil, as we like to live in cool moist areas. This will also encourage our deep-burrowing species to your garden, not just surface and upper soil species.
We provide a lot of benefits to your garden and help to ensure that you have a healthy system. We are just as important as bees, so please take these few steps to help encourage us to your area.
Willie the Worm