MONTH BY MONTH IN GARDEN AND ALLOTMENT

Under the four headings below will be found brief reminders of some of the more important outdoor jobs amateurs can undertake month by month, including various measures for preventing pests and diseases. The state of the weather and the soil should decide the final timing of most operations. The calendar is based mainly on south-eastern England so allowances must be made for very early districts like the extreme south-west or late districts in the north and Scotland. Such differences arise mainly in late winter and early spring. Outdoor sowings should always be deferred if cold winds persist and the soil is very dry. Note that certain instructions are repeated to allow for the time differences of successional plantings and also as last minute reminders.

JANUARY:

Order flower seeds. Any autumn-planted perennials loosened by frost should be re-firmed. Prepare trenches for sweet peas. Give wallflowers a dressing of lime. Mulch lilies-of-the-valley with leaf mould, well-rotted manure or compost. Delphiniums often start to ‘shoot’ towards end of month £ if weather is mild and a watch must be kept for slugs which are destroyed by a metaldehyde preparation.

Both tree and bush fruits may still be planted in open in mild weather. Finish spraying of fruit trees with tar-oil winter wash (if red spider has been troublesome, substitute a DNG petroleum wash in February or a summer ovicide containing CPCBS in June). As an alternative to winter washing, BHG or BHC-Pyrethrin sprays can be applied in early spring — see under APRIL.

Order vegetable seeds. Trench sites for root crops. Plant thongs of seakale, also Jerusalem artichokes and shallots. If frost threatens, bend over cauliflower leaves to protect the ‘curds’.

Bonemeal may be applied to lawns at about 4 oz. per sq. yd. It is relatively slow-acting. It must be finely ground, never coarse. Bone-meal encourages the development of the roots of the grasses.

FEBRUARY:

FLOWERS.

Prepare sweet pea trenches. Plant perennials such as delphiniums, lupins, pyr-ethrums. Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) may be divided after flowering if extra plants are wanted,

FRUIT.

Spray peaches with a proprietary copper fungicide, Bordeaux mixture or lime-sulphur when the flower buds begin to swell and again 10 days later to prevent leaf curl.

LAWNS AND PATHS.

Now is a good time to aerate the lawn by means of forking. An ordinary straight-tined fork is suitable, and holes should be prodded into the grass about 3 in. apart and 4 in. deep. A top although they dislike disturbance and take time to settle down. tree and bush fruits may be given a dressing of complete fertiliser in late February. shallow boxes for planting next month. Light soils may be limed but not if potatoes are to follow as lime often encourages scab. Divide established rhubarb clumps in late February. dressing of compost, e.g. 3 parts of friable loam, I part peat and I part sharp sand, may be applied 2—3 weeks later. On very heavy land sharp sand only may suffice.

MARCH:

FLOWERS.

Plant pinks and carnations early in month and finish planting of all shrubs, herba-£ ceous perennials and roses as soon as possible. Roses of all types are pruned this month. Sow hardy annuals e.g. candytuft, clarkia, godetias, nigella (love-in-a-mist), shirley poppies. Cut back hard shoots of jasmine.

FRUIT.

Tip raspberry canes to a uniform height early in month. Prune fig trees about mid-March, removing all branches going to the centre of the tree and any crossing branches. Remove swollen buds on black currants which denote ‘big bud’ mites and spray with lime-sulphur or wettable sulphur when leaves are about the size of a shilling. Feed all established fruit trees and bushes with a complete fertiliser.

VEGETABLES.

Plant early potatoes. Sow broad beans, Brussels sprouts, leeks, lettuces, onions, parsley, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach and summer cabbages. Top-dress spring cabbages and early lettuces with ‘Nitro-Chalk’. Burn old stems of cabbage and Brussels sprouts to keep down pests and diseases. August-sown onions should be ready for planting out.

LAWNS AND PATHS.

Mow established lawns for first time, provided growth has started, but set the blades high. A top-dressing of complete fertiliser may be given at end of month in the south. Destroy weeds on paths with sodium chlorate or phenol weedkillers.

APRIL:

Continue to sow hardy annuals. Complete rose pruning early in month and spray with captan or thiram against black spot, if this disease was troublesome in previous year. Plant gladioli and montbretias. Stake delphiniums. Prune early-flowering shrubs such as forsythia, Prunus triloba plena a and Ribes sanguineum as soon as flowering finishes. Plant evergreen trees and shrubs towards end of month.

Protect strawberries in flower from spring frosts. Spray gooseberries with wettable sulphur against mildew. Spray apples and pears with captan fungicide against scab. Spring spraying with BHC applied alone or combined with insecticide is now very popular with commercial growers as a more economic method than winter washing. Manufacturers’ recommendations which are based on controlled experiments should be followed very carefully.

Continue planting potatoes. Sow carrots, cauliflowers, turnips and spinach beet. Another sowing of Brussels sprouts may be made in early April. Make succes-sional sowings of peas, preferably when the previous sowing is about an inch high. Radishes may be sown every 10 days for succession but avoid sowing too much seed at a time as they only remain tasty for 7—10 days.

In the north give lawns a top-dressing of complete fertiliser for first time early in month. Selective weedkillers may be applied if weeds are growing freely. Keep the blades of the mower fairly high.

MAY:

FLOWERS.

Spray roses against aphids (greenfly) with gamma-BHC (lindane) insecticide. Sow seeds of biennials such as Canterbury bells, sweet wil-

FRUIT.

Continue preventive spraying against fruit tree pests and diseases. A BHG insecticide may be used at petal-fall to anticipate apple

VEGETABLES.

Plant main crop potatoes and earth up the earliest kinds when about 8 in. high. Pinch out the tops of broad beans when in full flower to

LAWNS AND PATHS.

New lawns can be sown during May although late August in the north and early September in the south are better as weed wallflowers for flowering next year. Sow half-hardy annuals, e.g. asters, stocks, late in month. Plant early-flowering chrysanthemums and pinch out growing points about 3 weeks later. sawfly (rough, blotchy markings on young apple fruits, also ribbon-like scars are signs of damage). Derris insecticideswill tackle gooseberry sawfly caterpillars. keep down black fly — spray with gamma-BHC (lindane) or derris insecticides directly attacks begin. Plant out early sowings of Brussels sprouts, cabbages and cauliflowers. Sow runner beans during latter half of month. competition is less severe and drought less likely. Moss on paths can be tackled by a phenol weedkiller (sodium chlorate does not kill moss, though excellent against weeds generally).

JUNE:

FLOWERS.

Plant out dahlias in early June when all risk of frost has gone. Insert stakes before planting and make a saucerlike depression round each plant to facilitate watering and feeding. Divide and replant flag irises after flowering, barely covering the rhizomes with soil. Spray roses with wettable sulphur or thiram to keep down mildew.

FRUIT.

Water copiously all fruit trees grown on walls, if weather is at all dry. Layer strawberries, taking about 4 runners from each plant. Begin summer pruning of red currants and gooseberries towards end of month. Derris sprays or dusts will keep down raspberry beetle. Mulch raspberries with well rotted manure, damp peat etc., during dry weather.

VEGETABLES.

Continue to earth up potatoes. Plant out tomatoes early in month, choosing a sunny wall or fence, or a south border. Use a 4 ft. stake for each plant. Sweet corn, vegetable marrows and ridge cucumbers may be planted at the same time. Make successional sowings of lettuces.

LAWNS AND PATHS.

Where possible, cut the lawn twice a week — regular light mowings remove less plant food than occasional heavy ones. If drought persists, mow without the box, allowing the cuttings to return as a mulch.

JULY:

Layer border carnations. Plant out wallflowers and other May-sown biennials in nursery beds to secure ‘stocky’ plants for transferring to their permanent position in early autumn. Roses can be budded throughout July, the stocks being fit for budding when the bark parts readily from the wood. £ Best buds are usually those about half-way down the shoots.

Summer prune cordon and espalier apples, pears etc. Remove and burn all dead wood from plum trees, also any branches infected with silver leaf. Clean up strawberry beds and give a dressing of complete fertiliser to strengthen the crowns for the following season. Remove all runners not needed for propagation as they appear.

Rub out side shoots of tomatoes directly they appear and pinch out the growing point after 3 or 4 fruit trusses have formed. Plant out winter cabbages, savoys, sprouting broccoli and leeks. If the flowers of runner beans drop without setting pods, spray with water. Remove the growing points directly the plants reach the tops of the stakes. In cold districts sow cabbages for spring cutting towards end of July.

Continue to use selective weedkillers as necessary. A dressing of sulphate of ammonia will help the grass to grow freely. If a new lawn is to be sown in late August or early September, prepare the ground as early as possible in July.

AUGUST:

Take cuttings of carnations, violas, rock plants and shrubs. Plant crocuses, daffodils, aconites, snowdrops, scillas and madonna lilies.

Destroy wasp nests with derris prior to harvesting apples etc. Remove old fruiting canes of raspberries after picking has ended but defer tipping of new canes.

Sow hardy onions early in month for transplanting in early spring. Cut parsley to induce fresh growth.

If ants appear on paths, dust infested areas with insecticide, BHC or aldrin insecticides repeating as necessary — if possible treat ant nests also. Continue to use until February or March. After all black currants have been picked, remove fruiting wood at ground level, retaining new growths, and top-dress with nitrogenous fertilisers, e.g. ‘Nitro-Chalk’. Plant strawberries and remove all runners not needed for propagation as they appear. month for spring use. Earth up early celery. Make suc-cessional sowings of turnips for storing. sodium chlorate or phenol weedkillers on paths to prevent weeds seeding. In the north sow new lawns during second half of August.

SEPTEMBER:

FLOWERS.

Plant Iris unguicularis (sty-losa) on poor, well-drained soil — under a south wall is ideal. Plant lilies, crocuses, daffodils, St Brigid anemones, snowdrops, scillas, chionodoxas. Leave tulips and hyacinths until late October or early November. On light, well-drained soils plant perennials like lupins, delphiniums, Michaelmas daisies.

FRUIT.

Gather early apples and eat as soon as possible after picking. Prune blackberries and loganberries by cutting out growths which have fruited and tying in new shoots. Grease-band apples, pears etc. to trap the wingless female winter moths etc. and always band supporting stakes.

VEGETABLES.

Harvesting of root crops begins in late September, especially in cold districts — two examples follow. Lift main crop potatoes (they are ready when the haulm has died down). Gather and dry onions prior to storing — plant cabbages for spring use on the vacant ground. Gather tomatoes by end of month — green or partially ripened fruits ripen satisfactorily indoors .

LAWNS AND PATHS.

Selective weedkillers can still be used especially against daisies which sometimes succumb more quickly at this time. In the south sow new lawns as early as possible in month.

George which prefer spring planting.) Transfer summer sown biennials like wallflowers to their permanent quarters. Take cuttings of bedding plants such as calceolarias, antirrhinums, violas, pansies. stored in single layers in trays in a drawer etc. where the temperature does not fall below 52 degrees F. Earth up celery and leeks. If wire-worm is troublesome apply a gamma-BHC (lindane) or aldrin dust as these pests are very active at this time of year.

OCTOBER:

FLOWERS.

Lift and store dahlias, gladioli, begonias and Earlham montbretias. Plant tulips and hyacinths at end of month. Clean up and lightly fork over herbaceous border incorporating a gamma-BHC or aldrin dust if wire-worm has been troublesome. Prepare soil for rose planting next month.

FRUIT.

Prepare soil for fruit tree planting next month. Gather mid-season and late apples. Strawberries can still be planted during October, otherwise wait until March.

VEGETABLES.

Finish harvesting of root crops for winter storage. Dig and trench vacant land to expose to frost and on heavy soils apply lime if soil test indicates deficiency — on light soils liming may be deferred to February or March. Planting of spring cabbages should be finished by mid-October especially in cold, northern districts, otherwise they may fail to gain roothold before hard weather arrives.

LAWNS AND PATHS.

Lay turf for new lawns, provided weather is not too dry. Lawns should be swept and raked clear of dead grass, leaves, stones etc. Note that moss must not be raked out whilst alive, otherwise it spreads. (Sulphate of iron or mercury preparations are the answer.)

NOVEMBER:

This is an ideal month for tree, shrub and rose planting. Tulips and hyacinths should be planted and other spring-flowering bulbs if not already done. Divide and replant lily-of-the-valley where clumps are overcrowded. Tidy up herbaceous borders.

Begin planting of fruit trees and bushes, ensuring they are not planted deeper than the nursery soil mark. Take cuttings of red, white and black currants, also gooseberries. Begin pruning of established apples and pears — plums and cherries are often pruned in late spring to avoid risk of infection by silver leaf.

Dig and manure vacant ground whenever weather allows. Cut back old asparagus stems when yellow, also clean and lightly fork the beds. Hard and/or prolonged frost may loosen plants of Brussels sprouts etc.; if so, firm surrounding soil. Sow broad beans in sheltered situations. Destroy vegetable stumps etc. to prevent pests and diseases spreading. Bend over some of the outer leaves of cauliflowers to protect against frost.

Turfing of new lawns may continue throughout autumn and early winter — it is best completed by end of February to avoid subsequent drying out if cold winds and drought persist.

DECEMBER:

Protect Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) with cloches to ensure early and perfect blooms. Complete planting of trees, shrubs and roses.

Protect Iris unguicularis (stylosa) from slugs, also lupins, delphiniums, pyr-ethrums, etc., by means of metaldehyde preparation.

Finish pruning of established fruit trees and complete any planting by the end of the year. Examine greasebands on apples etc. and remove any leaves, dead insects etc., thereby preventing the formation of ‘bridges’ over which insect pests might crawl. Re-expose the sticky surface as necessary. Examine all stored fruits and remove any decayed specimens. Pears need very frequent inspection.

Draw up a cropping plan for next year’s vegetables. Make sure all cultivation is completed as soon as possible to secure the benefit of frost which often arrives in January if autumn has been mild. Make sure all weeds are removed; annual weeds and healthy garden waste should be consigned to the compost heap, but perennial weeds with tough, straggling roots and diseased material generally should be burnt and the ashes returned to the soil.

Leatherjackets on lawns are often very active in mild, wet weather — BHC or Pyrethrin insecticides are the answer.

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