Our gardening expert writes:
Soil always gives problems in gardens and should be replaced by the kind of proprietary growing medium available from all good garden centres or, better still, 3 ft of quick-set ready-mix and a topping of Cotswold paving.
With winter rains over and the last of the year's frosts safely behind us, now is the time to get busy with the concrete mixer, re-surfacing and laying new beds for the future. It's a grand time to be outside, every garden buzzing with strimmer, stump-grinder, chainsaw, power-wash and mechanical flail, each competing to outdo its neighbour with the sounds of Spring. Hover-mowers are most people's favourite for decibels, though I once had a diesel-powered rotary that could shake the china in houses more than two streets away. In past centuries it was the job of small boys to wave rattles and bang saucepan lids in order to keep scavenging birds off crops and gardens. I've found these days that leaving the concrete mixer to turn all hours of daylight works just as well. To be doubly sure, leave a good radio alongside, tuned in to a local station.
Fruit-bushes are particularly prone to attack from insect-forms that crawl up stems, be those aphids, thrips or the devilishly cunning scale-insect. Traditional counter-measures work best and now is the time to be fitting those grease-bands that will save your crop from devastation. It's a tiresome job getting the collars on to the little perishers, one that calls for nimble fingers and a steady hand.
Summer pruning of soft fruit: stick to simple basics, intercalating to third bud of south-facing spurs on new season's growth, whilst taking care not to spline secondary shooters beyond 45 deg in alkaline conditions without cautionary pre-dusting of Bordeaux with soft-hair sable no more than 13mm beyond blench where splashing has occurred.
Next month: re-ordering that Hot Tub that still hasn't arrived.