Below are a number of gardening tips for each month of the year

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Cold Weather Update With warnings of a cold snap, you may be concerned that some of your garden plants, which have shown signs of growth, may be damaged. Here is some advice on how to best protect your plants. In cold spells, protect non frost-proof containers with bubble wrap, hessian or fleece, to prevent them cracking. Protect newly planted trees, hedges and shrubs from cold winds and frosts, which can loosen and lift the roots. In the flower garden Prune rose bushes now whilst they are dormant. Cut back to just above a bud, and remove any crossing or dead branches. If your garden is looking a bit bare, try growing a winter-flowering evergreen Clematis such as Winter Beauty. In the vegetable garden Harvest parsnips and leeks. While you’re waiting for the weather to warm up, try growing your own mushrooms. Remove yellowing leaves from your winter brassicas as they are no use to the plant and may harbour pests and diseases. In the fruit garden Begin pruning your apple trees and pear trees if you haven’t done so already – this is best done whilst they are dormant Leave plums, cherries and apricots unprunes until the summer as pruning these fruit trees now will make them susceptible to silver leaf infections Prune blackcurrant bushes, gooseberries and redcurrants to maintain a productive framework

In some warmer locations, you can begin sowing your vegetable seeds outdoors

March is the perfect time to get those tomato and pepper seeds started indoors and ready for an early spring planting

Ireland is described as having a moderate climate. We do not have extremes of hot and cold weather, nor do we have extreme periods of rainfall or drought. However  buried within our climate we have ‘weather’ – unpredictable periods, where within a given day, we can experience Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter weather.
We have just come through March where the weather was unexpectably cold and dry in the Cork region ( although not as bad on the East Coast and up North ) although this weather was not unprecedented.
Last month the warning went out that March could be a cold month and in the event this turned out to be true. A warning also went out concerning the temptation to begin planting tender bedding plants and Summer flowering plants ( although I see that they have been available in many outlets without a warning that they will be damaged by frost ).
I hope you have resisted the temptation !!!
I repeat the warning, do not waste your money by being tempted to plant Summer bedding plants or Summer container plants much before mid April at the earliest and should you wish to begin to plant up Summer containers at this unpredictable ( weatherwise ) time of the year, you should ensure that you have the conditions to adequately protect the plants from adverse weather conditions, while at the same time ensuring a good  growing environment.
To ensure a successful outcome for your containers you should consider delaying planting until at the earliest mid to late April.
Daylength is increasing at this time of the year and temperatures are rising ( day time temperatures are begining to climb above 10 degrees ) although we can have some sleet and snow along with night frosts.
Continue to mow lawns (weather permitting) and apply a Spring fertiliser or a weed and feed fertiliser towards the end of the month, when it’s not too dry, and scarify to remove moss. You can complete rose pruning and feed with a rose fertiliser and mulch beds to prevent build up of weeds. Begin planting hardy herbecaceous perennials, divide established perennial plants and stake tall, or potentially tall, perennials.
Plant potted evergreen trees and shrubs (it’s getting late to plant barerooted plants) and water in well and continue to water during dry spells. You can prune trees and shrubs which have finished flowering and cut back those shrubs which will flower on this seasons growth.
Remove faded flowers from early flowering bulbs to prevent them wasteing energy in  producing seeds. In dry weather, water well, to fatten up the bulbs between the fading of the flowers and the withering of the foliage.
Now is the time to begin to plan your container planting for the Summer season. Complete the cleaning out of tubs, window boxes, troughs and hanging baskets in preparation for the coming season.
Since our climate is dominated by ‘weather’ there is no predicting what the Summer will bring, weatherwise. Under these circumstances we should consider hedging our bets, container planting wise. We need to consider the possibilities that the Summer may be dry, wet or probably a mixture of both, so we need to consider choosing plants to cover all these possible outcomes.
SURFINIAS (trailing petunias) have been a popular choice for inclusion in baskets and containers, but do not perform well in exposed locations, in wet and windy weather but do perform well in dry warm Summers. However TRAILING BEGONIAS and BACOPA recover well from adverse weather so a planting combining surfinias, trailing begonias and bacopa along with longer lasting patio plants will accomodate, and selectively recover from, most Summer weather conditions. If watered, fed and deadheaded this combination of plants, among other combinations, will flower over the period from mid to late May to the first late Autumn/Winter frosts.
Remember for best results do not plant up containers too early as there is plenty of time to plant end April and during May.
More next month.
Pat Tuite.
Ballinora Nursery and Plant Centre.

As we wrote last month, Ireland has a moderate climate and buried within the climate we have weather. During April we have had the weather of the worst kind. What with cold easterly winds and severe night frosts, temperatures remained below normal, for the time of the year, with the knock on effect of low ground temperatures and as a consequence little or no growth. For growth to progress, ground temperatures must rise and be maintained above 6 degrees centigrade. You may have noticed garden grass growth has seen little or no progress and the daily reports from the farming community of  little or no grass growth with the consequent difficulties they are facing is testament to the adverse growth conditions experienced in April.

Now we look forward to May in the hope and expectation, that weather wise, things will improve to such an extent that we will be able to get out and about in the garden, with a high degree of comfort. Here is hoping!!!!!

Generally speaking temperatures will rise during May, but you need to be aware that cold snaps are possible, so that it is advisable to keep an eye on the weather forecasts so that should a cold snap be forecast, tender plants should be protected by covering with a mulch or newspaper or fleece, and should a warm spell be forecast do not neglect to water your plants.


Fertilizer can still be applied to your shrubs and trees but be sure to water the fertilizer in after application.
Early flowering shrubs should be pruned back after flowering.

–       for pink flowering Hydrangeas apply lime to the soil.
–       for blue flowering Hydrangeas apply Aluminium Sulphate.

Watch out for greenfly infestation and black spot on rose leaves. As soon as infestation is noticed spray with a systemic fungicide/insecticide and continue to spray every ten to fourteen days depending on the level of infestation.

Following the adverse weather conditions during April lawn growth has at best been negligible. As the temperature begins to rise growth will resume so that regular mowing, weeding and feeding will be essential for good grass growth.

During May the risk of frost is still a possibility, however it is a good time to begin to prepare pots and containers for Summer planting.
Summer flowering plants such as trailing petunias (Surfinias) Bacopa, Tuberous Begonias, Busy Lizzies etc. can be planted but should be protected should frost be forecast.
Ensure before planting up containers that pot drain holes are clear, and that drainage materials such as stones or broken terracotta pieces are placed in the bottom of the containers before filling with the growing medium so as to ensure that your containers will not become waterlogged if over watered.

Continue to control weeds by hand pulling and mulching beds.

Keep a lookout for the lilly beetle. The beetle has a red back much like the lady bird but without the black spots. It is larger than the lady bird. The lilly beetle will destroy your lilies so it should be removed from the plants and disposed of before damage is done. The lilly beetle is active now and can be found between the leaves if present on your lilies.

Alpines such as Aubretia, Arabis Saxifrages etc. should be trimmed after flowering to tidy up the plants so as to promote fresh compact growth and to prolong flowering.

Be sure to keep slugs and snails under control otherwise they will devastate your garden.
Do not allow weeds to flower otherwise you will be pulling weeds for years to come. In dry weather check your plants and shrubs to ensure that they have adequate water and apply fertilizer to your beds and borders during the growing season.

May has passed and what a disappointing month for gardeners in general, particularly during the first three weeks. Following on from March temperatures continued to remain below normal, with cold winds blowing from either an Easterly or a Northerly direction. We are advised by the experts that these weather conditions can be blamed on the Polar Jet Stream which is a fast flowing narrow current of air flowing from East to West some 7 to 10 kilometres above sea level.
It seems that the Jet Stream had moved south over the Mediterranean region thus allowing the colder polar air to move south over Ireland. When the Jet Stream flows north of Ireland it allows warmer milder air from the south to move over us.

However weather conditions have improved during the last week of May with increased sunshine and higher temperatures to encourage us out into the garden.

Due to the adverse weather conditions in early May, it is estimated that the season could be as much as 2 to 3 weeks later than what we might expect, at this time of the year.

Rainfall has been intermittent and spotty, and with the cool winds still blowing, attention should be paid to ground moisture conditions. If dry weather is effecting your plants, a decision must be made as to whether or not to water as plants will suffer, if too much water is given. To check for ground moisture, dig random holes to measure how far below the surface drought has penetrated. If moist soil is found at a depth of 1 to 1.5 inches, hold off on watering for about a week but water any areas which are dry to a depth of 2 inches or more, using a find spray delivery.


Continue mowing raising the blade during very dry weather.


Watch out for black spot and greenfly infestation and apply a systemic fungicide and insecticide and remove small side buds from flower shoots, to encourage quality blooms and remove faded blooms to encourage further flowering.

Now is the time to remove old yellow and dry foliage from spring flowering daffodils and tulips and replace with summer flowering bedding plants, taking care not to damage the bulbs.
Spring flowering shrubs such as Viburnum, Lilac etc. can now be pruned, after they have completed flowering.

Watch out for slugs, especially after rainy periods, as they will strip the foliage from your soft tissue bedding plants and perennials. If you use chemicals to control such pests as slugs, caterpillars, greenfly etc. keep the use of chemicals to a minimum.

Deadhead bedding plants and perennials to help to bush out the plants and prolong the flowering period.

Now is the time to plant up hanging baskets, tubs, and window boxes. Suggested plants for containers include Tuberous trailing Begonias, Bacopa, Verbenas, Surfinias along with trailing Lobelias, of differing colours, as the danger of frosts should now be over (however you can never be completely sure).
Planted containers should flower over the period June to October if the following simple rules are observed, (1) water, (2) feed, (3) deadhead.
The reason we deadhead is that dead-heading (i.e. the removal of dead flowers) diverts the plants energy from producing seeds to producing new flowers.

Weed flower beds and mulch with garden compost or farmyard manure. This will keep the weeds down and will reduce evaporation and the need for frequent watering.

Weather permitting, June is the time to begin to enjoy your garden after all the effort you have expended during the earlier part of the year.

There are still some great crops that can be planted to keep your garden pumping out vegetables well into Autumn

August is an ideal time to plant seeds for a second gardening season

There are still a few fast growing vegetables which can be planted now.

Many vegetables don’t have enough time to develop before the first frost

This is a great time of the year to clone some of your outside plants, or grow them from seed indoors.

Time for the garden seed catalogs to arrive!