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  1. snowdrops naturalised in a  lawn

    Snowdrops look lovely naturalised in the lawn but there comes a point when the flowers have faded and the lawn wants its first mow of the season. 

    Can you mow the lawn and Snowdrops? 

    Not unsurprisingly,  Snowdrops are the same as Daffodils and other spring bulbs, they need the leaves to remain in place for a number of weeks to feed to bulbs for next year. Unfortunately, for now it is necessary to mow around the fading leaves. Once the leaves are finished and yellow you can mow over them.



  2. tomato-seedlings-310-x-240 Toms in hanging basket 310

    March is the ideal time to start sowing tomatoes if you intend to grow from seed, or  for buying plug plants for growing on. Tomatoes are not hardy and will need to be kept under glass in a warm place until later in the year for planting out late May.

    If you are new to growing tomatoes, or just need a bit of advice, the sunday gardener has a step by step guide starting with How to grow tomatoes covering all the tomato growing steps, including potting on, pinching out side shoots and the all important watering and feeding regime.

    Which are the easiest tomatoes to grow? 

    Check out The Sunday Gardener's easy paperback guide " Success with Tomatoes"

    Lots of video advice about growing tomatoes on the Sunday Gardener You Tube channel .



  3. Leggy seedlings are a common problem when germinating from seed, especially early on in the year. The problem is caused by uneven light. Perfect plants purchased from garden centres are germinated and grown in ideal conditions, just the right amount of heat and humidity, and  critically, all round light, that is 360°. As the plant grows it gets all round light and develops a straight study stem.

    Most gardeners have less than perfect conditions and germinate seeds on window sills and warm spots in the house where the light is predominately from one side which causes the seedling to pull to the light. Combined with poor light levels, as is often the case early in the year, or during poor weather, and the seedling stretches to the light and looks "leggy", or weedy. The image below left are my tomato seedlings with just that problem.

    You can reduce the changes of the seedling becoming leggy by ensuring you germinate it in the lightest possible conditions. Also turn the container every couple of days so the light is not constantly drawing on one side of the seedling.

    But what if you have done this and still got a weedy seedling. The solution lies  in how you pot on the seedling.  To pot on, ease the plug out of the pot from the base, and pull the seedlings apart gently (as in image two.) Avoid touching the stems which are very delicate and if damaged the plant may not recover; handle carefully and hold by the leaves.

    Select a suitable pot, not to large. It's tempting, especially with plants like tomatoes which will need to be potted on several times before eventually making it into the veg plot or grow bags, to put into a larger pot to save time. When potting on it is important to pot up only a slightly larger container. If  you put a small seedling (or any small plant ) into a large pot it will not thrive.

    When you put the seedling into the pot sink it well below soil level, you are in effect burying part of the leggy stem under the soil. Instead of potting on at soil level, reduce the amount of leggy seedling above soil, and you will find it grows on as a much better seedling it's leggy past forgotten. Images  centre and right show the same tomato seedling  after it  has been potted on with several cms of (leggy) stem below soil level. As you can see from the image the seedling looks good and this  tip works well to compensate for the problem with all types of leggy seedlings.

    More tips about growing Tomatoes


    leggy tomato seedlings leggy seedling potted up by the sunday gardener side view of leggy seedling potted up by the sunday gardener


  4. sedum-ready-for-cutting-back-310x240

    Even in February, on mild days, you can make as start in the garden and cut back perennials. In fact, it’s an ideal time because the garden is waking up, and as the new growth comes through it can be hard to cut back all the old growth, without damaging the new.

    The image left is a Sedum, and the new growth is at the base. Before the new growth gets much taller is the time to take the secateurs to it and cut off the old growth. 

    This is true of many garden perennials such as Nepeta, Oregano, Epimediums, Alchemilla mollis, Crocosmia, Geranium, any of the perennials which have spent top growth which is dead and where there are now new shoots emerging at the base.

    Cutting back is different to pruning. When you cut back you remove all of last year’s growth whereas pruning is a means to shape a plant or shrub to produce the desired growth. February is a big pruning month. During February or early March it is time to prune Groups 2 & 3 Clematis, Roses and Wisteria.

    Summer flowering shrubs can be cut back and pruned in February and March. It is imporant to be sure the shrub is summer flowering. Spring flowering shrubs and climbers make flowers on last years wood, so if you prune ahead of flowering you will cut off the branches where the flowers would have formed. The result will be no flowers. 

    What to do in the garden in February a gardening guide.