Pic of snowdrops attached for roundell

The cold late spring has certainly delayed plant growth in the garden this year, but at last the milder weather is starting many plants into growth.

With the Harrogate Spring Flower Show just one week away the late spring has added pressure to many of the 100 nurseries that will be attending to create a nursery display. However, despite the cold, our loyal exhibitors will I’m sure pull out all the stops to ensure a great display and I have spoken to several exhibitors who are working really hard to ensure their plants will be at their best. One group of exhibitors that may even benefit from the late spring are the daffodil growers. Late April is normally getting to the end of the daffodil season, but this year there will still be plenty of varieties to choose from. Johnny Walkers who have been exhibiting at Harrogate for over 25 years has told us that he will be displaying some early varieties that in a normal growing season would have flowered a few weeks ago, and promises a colourful display. I’m sure that the daffodil show organised by the Northern Group of the Daffodil Society will also have a good show with plenty of competitors.

The show gardens also promise to be very good this spring and with 17 being created there will be designs to suit all tastes. The gardens are being built at the moment to a very high quality and I’m sure visitors to the show will be impressed by them. The show is open from Thursday, April 25 until Sunday, April. 28.

Jobs for the week

Dwarf French beans can be sown in trays or pots in the greenhouse where there is gentle heat to aid germination. The seedlings will need growing under cover until mid-May when they can be planted into the garden.

Grass seed can be sown to repair bare or thin patches of the lawn, but remember to water if the soil is dry.

There is still plenty of time to lift and divide clumps of established snowdrops before they die down. Ideally split the clump into smaller clumps of four to six bulbs.

Readers’ Questions

John Taylor has emailed me to ask what is the best way to grow tomato plants in his greenhouse. Grow bags or planted into the soil?

Given the choice I would always try and grow tomatoes in the greenhouse border where the roots can search for water and nutrients. Several years ago I conducted a growing trial growing tomatoes by various methods, such as the border soil, large plant pots of compost (peat-based in those days), coir compost and grow bags. The same variety of tomato was used throughout the trial and all the tomatoes were planted on the same day and fed the same through the growing season. Without a doubt the plants growing in soil were the best. They produced strong plants and a heavy crop of good quality fruits. By far the worst was the grow bag grown plants which were much smaller and produced less fruit. This was partly because of the quality of compost used in grow bags, but also because they dry out very quickly on hot days. Plants growing in large pots (bucket size) were second in the trial. However, the disadvantage of growing in a greenhouse border year after year is the plants can develop root disease, so ideally it is a good idea to change the soil every couple of years.

If you have a gardening question for Martin Fish please email him at martin@flowershow.org.uk and we’ll print a selection of questions and answers for readers to share. Or, write to Ackrill Media Group, 1 Cardale Park, Harrogate and we’ll pass on your question