Members of the “Living Art” bonsai fraternity know that early spring is a critical time for repotting many of their little treasures. Bonsai is a highly specialized area of plant management and if you want to know more and to see how it is done, they will be at Cedar Lodge Nursery on Egmont Road all day this Sunday from 10.00am to 4.00pm. This is a particularly good hobby for those people who can not have outside gardens for whatever reason. Generally you can take your bonsai collection with you when you move.
If you are not into bonsai, you should still be heeding the advice to see to container plants at this time of year. It gives them time to settle in before summer. Trees and shrubs in containers should generally be repotted every two years. If you have them in rather small pots or slightly tortured states, repot annually to keep the plant healthy. For trees and shrubs, buy decent potting mix with controlled release fertiliser. Keep the cheap stuff for annuals. You get the quality you pay for with potting mixes and they are by no means all equal.
If you are not repotting your plants this year, feed them. Remember more is not better. Follow the recommended dosage rates, erring on the conservative side. Too much fertiliser can burn the plant.
The rule of thumb for fertilizers is that the expensive controlled release ones (mostly the coated balls of the Osmocote, Nutricote, Acticote type) are designed for container plants but cover them under the top layer of potting mix for maximum effect. Slow release fertilizers are primarily designed for topdressing container plants. These are different to controlled release and usually come in powder form. We favour one we buy in commercial quantities as Triabon (also known as Compo) which we call magic dust – albeit expensive magic dust. We only use it on containers for a three month topdressing feed. There are other brands which will be comparable – seek advice from your local garden centre but you need to understand a little first so you are buying the right fertiliser for the right use.
The cheap and cheerful types like Nitrophoska Blue, blood and bone or Bioboost are what you use to broadcast all over the garden where exact measurements are not needed. Liquid fertilizers are used for hanging baskets and pots of hungry annuals or top dressing fast growing vegetables where you want a quick feed and you are watering often. Compost tea, worm farm product, seaweed mixes – these are all in the quick feed liquid application group and you use them up to once a week.
If you plan hanging baskets for summer, get them planted up now. Don’t hang them in the full sun to start with.
It is still pruning, feeding, lifting and dividing, mulching and planting time in the ornamental garden.
At this time of the year, fruit and vegetable prices tend to soar. It is all about supply and demand. As quick turnaround crops to keep the food bills down, sprout beans at home and sow micro greens in seed trays. Swathes of parsley are a versatile standby at this time and will keep scurvy at bay.
If you are planting peas, the pesky sparrows may beat you to the germinating shoots unless you drape some temporary netting to discourage them. Peas can be sown on a regular basis to get continual harvests in a 90 days time.
New potatoes can be planted now in all but the coldest areas. Last call for planting garlic.