Monthly Tips – March
This is the time when standard cultivars (divisions 1 to 4) start to push their noses out of the ground in the show beds. Get a nice sunny day and the would-be exhibitor walks up and down the beds itching to get stuck-in. My initial advice however, is not to be in too big a hurry, they’ll come when they’re ready.
That is not to say, do nothing. The hoe may be gently drawn along the gap between the rows but keep well clear of the bulbs and don’t try to hoe between the bulbs. If there is a weed there giving particular concern then please use your fingers.
This should concentrate your mind on what really matters even at this early stage and that is bulb health. The shoots should be grey-green and upright. Any leaves that are streaked with dark green or yellow, or coming out of the ground at an angle (a sure sign of basal rot) must be rooted out. Similarly if there is an obvious gap according to your planting plan among otherwise healthy shoots then this should be remedied also. Remember – “they never get better”. Left in the ground there remains a source from which further infection can spread.
The best tool to use for digging out single bulbs is an ordinary garden fork with the two outer tines removed from the standing bar. The two centre tines can then be driven in without disturbing adjacent bulbs. Please make sure that all the offending material is removed and put in your wheely bin. Do not leave it hanging about. This procedure should be followed at any time during the growing season when something is amiss.
Depending on your ground you may want to feed the beds at this stage. A handful of Growmore per square yard should suffice but try to apply it when it’s raining so that it doesn’t stick to the leaves.