Protect new spring shoots
It is amazing how quickly slugs can munch their way through young shoots. I prefer to use organic slug pellets that are kinder to wildlife. I put them out early in March before any sign of damage to plants. The pellets are a bait and will therefore attract slugs. It is best to put them where the slugs are likely to be hiding during the day as opposed to next to the plant you are trying to protect. Use them sparsely, you only need a few per square meter. Alternatively try using Nematodes, a biological control that is safe to use around children, pets and wildlife. The microscopic worms attack and kill the slugs and stop them feeding on your plants within three days and are effective for around six weeks. Tackling slugs early will
significantly reduce the population for the coming season.
Mulch your borders
I often say to my clients that if you look after the soil the plants will look after themselves. Adding mulch to your borders at this time of year is hugely beneficial. You can use various materials as a mulch including well-rotted farmyard manure, shop bought composted organic matter or homemade compost. To be effective it is important to apply a reasonable depth (minimum 5cm). Ensure the area is free of weeds beforehand and take care to mulch around the crown of plants and not over the top. Applying a mulch at this time of year feeds the soil, improves the soil structure, retains moisture and suppresses weeds, saving a lot of work later in the season.
Feed your roses
Roses are extremely hungry plants and will perform much better and have better resistance to disease if they have been well fed. This is especially important with repeat flowering varieties. For the best results I recommend using a specific granular rose fertiliser, apply according to manufacturer’s instructions. For repeat flowering varieties feed again midsummer after the first flush of flowers has faded.
Claire Jones Gardens