TV gardening legend gives his 10 simple tips for rescuing your outdoor space after winter 

GREEN-fingered Scots are taking their first tentative steps back into their gardens and allotments after the harsh winter weather.

The country’s green spaces are showing the first signs of spring after being battered by four named storms since December alone. But where to start?

It's time to get the garden ready for spring

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It’s time to get the garden ready for spring
George Anderson, and Carole Baxter, from the show

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George Anderson, and Carole Baxter, from the show

And what are the first steps you should take to help prepare the ground for, hopefully, a brighter spring and summer ahead?

Chief Features Writer MATT BENDORIS speaks to Beechgrove Garden favourite George Anderson, 80 — a presenter on the show for 19 years — to find out his top ten tips ahead of the series’ return.

CAN YOU DIG IT?

ANY areas you want to cultivate crops on, from a vegetable patch to an allotment, the first thing to do is fork it over.

It’s the same with your lawn, because if the ground lies wet it won’t be able to heat up in the sun.

And don’t sow anything until you see the first weeds germinating — that tells you the soil is at the right temperature.

The first crops to sow are parsnips, as they take longer to germinate, then peas and beans.

As the weather gets warmer you can sow carrots and cauliflower.

CALL OF THE MILD

WATCH out for that false spring — as we can still get frost right until the end of May.

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You have to be very, very careful because if you have sensitive seedlings, you will need to put some horticultural fleece on them to keep them sheltered.

Because if we get just one bad frost overnight then all your hard work will have been wasted and you’d be as well booking a fortnight in the south of France rather than spending it in your garden.

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SPLIT DECISION

THERE will be established flowers in your borders, so this is the time to cut them down to just an inch above soil level.

Fork around them and treat with a balanced fertiliser around the flower clumps. If the clumps are very large I would split them with a spade right through the middle and give half to a friend.

You then feed the clumps, because all the nutrients will have been washed out over the winter — then they will grow in the spring.

MULCH OBLIGED

THIS is the time to buy mulch, which will save you having to water your plants later in the year.

I would go to the expense of using a spent mushroom compost, which comes shredded in bags. You can also buy shredded farmyard manure and spread that on the surface too.

That will keep in all the moisture and stop it evaporating, to give plants a good start.

SHEAR FOLLY

AT this stage in the year you should not be doing an awful lot of pruning, you should be giving them the lightest of trims to get them into a good shape.

I’m not suggesting you should trim every single shrub to make it look like a tombstone in a graveyard — I hate that.

You have got to let the shrubs develop into their own shapes.

Everyone goes crazy with their shears and then wonders why their fuchsia never flowered — it’s because you cut all the buds off!

BEE BUG FRIENDLY

NOW you must remember your lawn or your garden is not like your front room which you hoover and keep neat and tidy.

A garden does not need to be spick and span. You need to leave space for the wildlife and the insects which will help you.

Because without the bees and the creepy crawlies, absolutely nothing would grow, so it’s important to give them the best chance.

THE RIGHT STING

NOW wasps don’t have many allies, but they are a gardener’s friend as they eat a lot of greenfly, small caterpillars and other aphids.

They are useful in keeping their numbers down and stopping them eating everything before it has a chance to grow.

In fact, wasps are only a pest when they build a nest under the eaves of the house or when it comes to stinging season in the autumn when they’re dying off.

SEIZE THE SPRAY

I HAVE an allotment and I don’t use chemicals on it or in my own home — ever.

If I have an attack of aphids I will use a soap solution to get rid of them, or anything else that is generally harmless.

Remember you are a gardener — there’s no need to take part in chemical warfare.

Some folk use kitchen foil at the base of their plants to reflect light onto the undersides of the leaves which scares off aphids.

BLOOM SERVICE

GO to your nearest garden centre once a month and buy the things that are in flower.

That way you will have constant flowering plants right throughout the season to the envy of your friends and neighbours.

Because garden centres always display the eye candy — the colourful flowers that catch your eye — so buy them when they are at their best.

SMELL THE ROSES

SIT in your garden once a week without doing anything and look around and plan what you want to do.

Working in the garden is great fun, but you have also got to take the time to enjoy it as well.

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So make a point of just standing or sitting there when the sun is out and imagine how you want things to look. Good luck to everyone for the season ahead.

  • Beechgrove Garden is on BBC Scotland next Thursday at 8pm and BBC Two on Friday at 7.30pm.
You don't need to use chemicals on plants

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You don’t need to use chemicals on plants