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Green Fingers in late Winter

Down at Caves Folly Nursery in Colwall, Bridget is getting ready for the coming season.

Spring is around the corner and signs of life are emerging everywhere.
We have had some cold weather this winter which benefits the garden by killing off a few pests and providing a defining season for the many plants which like to be dormant in the winter to store energy for spring. It is not good for tender south African plants, but we can always replace them with something new!

After last year’s heat and the challenges of flooding this winter, now is the time to think about the structure of your soil. It is essential to know your soil type. As a basic rule, if you have free draining soil, add garden compost or any well-rotted organic matter. For heavy soils such as clay, add equal amounts of grit and organic matter. Clay soil is wet and cold in winter and takes longer to warm up in spring.

Now is the time to prepare for spring. In the ornamental garden tidy herbaceous perennials by removing old stems as the new shoots emerge. Plant lily bulbs for containers or borders for a wonderful summer display.

You can start dahlia tubers by putting them in a shallow tray of potting compost in a light, warm place. When shoots show, pot up and grow on until you can plant them out in June.

Seeds of sweet peas can be sown in a cold greenhouse or on a windowsill. Use a soil conditioner or garden compost to mulch borders. Rose fertiliser can be added now. In March cut back (stool) winter stems of Cornus to 3 or 4 buds from the base.

If you plan to grow fruit and veg, it’s time to buy and plant bare root cane fruit. Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries back to the ground and mulch and feed.
For quicker and higher yields, chit seed potatoes of early cultivars now in a light, cool but frost-free place. Sow the seeds of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in a bright warm place. Finish pruning fruit trees and bushes in February or before the buds burst. Sow early transplants inside to have a head start with salads.

Don’t forget the wildlife! Carry on feeding the birds and when pruning make sure you consider that birds may be starting to build nests in March.
Now is a good time to install compost bins or bays. Home composting is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of garden waste. Position bins in partial shade, directly onto soil to allow drainage and access for vital soil organisms.

Have a happy February and March, preparing for the coming spring! 


Bridget runs Caves Folly Nurseries on Evendine Lane in  Colwall (WR13 6DX). They are open from March until October, Thursdays to Saturdays from 10 - 4. You can contact them on 01684 540631 or visit their website: