This month in your garden

Ants might start to become troublesome this month as the ground warms up and they look to make new homes.  Don’t let them get into flowerpots or they will make nests there, completely killing off the plants.  Either raise the pot off the ground on little Chinese ‘feet’, put the pot on a paving slab or if you are re-potting put a piece of nylon stocking or something similar over the drainage hole, to stop them from entering the pot.  If all else fails, use ‘Divipan’. Look under the rims of pots that might have been lying around and turn over plant trays where you may find snails firmly attached to the undersides.  Do get rid of them or they will play havoc with your spring bedding and salad crops.  Sparrows are also attracted to new lettuce in particular and may peck them to pieces!  Try hanging some old CDs from a pole and that should frighten them away. Plant sweet corn plugs once we have reasonable overnight temperatures, as they don’t like cold nights. Remember to grow them in squares if you are able to, as they are wind pollinated and on a breezy day, you will see the pollen being blown off the tassels onto the flowers below.  They do need space and their eventual height might put off people with small gardens but the taste of them, picked straight from the garden, is a great pleasure, although I read recently that canned corn is just as good for you, if not better!

As spring bulbs go over, remember to take off the dead heads so that the bulb can concentrate on making the flower for next year and not spend its energy on producing seeds. Leave the leaves on the plant until they are dead.  I know that they can look messy but they are part of the process of renewal. Also remove dead heads on osteospermums or they will seed everywhere.

My worry about the lack of bees and butterflies has been allayed this spring, as they have swarmed all over the tightly packed flowers of my echiums from some weeks now.  Having not had many flowers in recent years, this year they are plentiful. They have also been attracting Red Admiral butterflies, I wonder where they were hiding, very welcome nevertheless.