Men. like plants, thrive on good treatment

We registered -3°c overnight the other Tuesday. As I left the house to go to Reedley, Wifey’s car was sheathed in ice and, as I tried to drop some rubbish in the wheelie-bin, I found the lid frozen down. In the street even the daffodils had slightly bowed their heads to the sharp overnight cold.

Driving in, however, there was a completely different feel. In the fields near Padiham, the numbers of lambs skipping around seems to grow daily. Along the Higham bypass, daffodils are breaking into flower everywhere. The views across Burnley towards Thieveley Pike under blue skies dotted with fluffy white clouds were stunning.

This was in stark contrast to the battering cold winds we were subjected to at the beginning of the month. Not quite a case of March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb, but nevertheless, the month has seen us make the transition from winter into spring ... the best time of year!

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The signs are all around. Not only are there lambs in the fields, but frogs are cavorting in ponds, birds are singing away and busy ferrying twigs and bits of grass to build their nests marking the start of their breeding season.

Obviously, it is plants that are my main interest and, after sitting out the cold months, content merely to survive, suddenly shrubs and trees are getting close to bud burst. If you haven’t done it yet, dig out the secateurs and give your roses a trim. I say ‘trim’ but I cut mine back very hard, to around six inches to ensure a stocky growth habit. And while I’m at it, I like to dress around the base with rose food and a mulch of manure-based compost. Like men, roses seem to do well on good treatment.

Bulbs too need to build up their resources. At present, they are putting all their energies into flower and leaf production. Use this as a prompt to give them a feed, so that as soon as flowering is over they can rebuild their reserves to ensure good flowering next year. Like men, bulbs seem to do well on good treatment.

As this cold period passes, it is time to start preparing the ground for potatoes. I like to dig the bed over, dress it with some organic garden compost and scatter in a little Growmore. The tubers themselves don’t go in just yet, but just after Easter, so I ‘chit’ them now to encourage small shoots before planting. Rose end up in an egg box for 10 days in a frost-free place usually does the trick and gives them a flying start. Like men, potatoes seem to do well on good treatment.

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Last weekend the clocks went forward an hour and we are now able to enjoy lighter evenings and get out into our gardens and give them the attention they deserve at this start of season.

The down side is we lost an hour’s sleep. I got up at the usual time but traditionally let Wifey sleep on a while. After all, long-suffering wife and mother-of-two, she needs her sleep, and is always better for a bit of a rest. It seems women too do well on good treatment!

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