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Jamie’s Little Allotment: Gardening tips for spring bulbs and why you should take part in No Mow May

In his weekly Jamie’s Little Allotment column, gardener Jamie Marsh discusses spring bulbs and No Mow May...

I don’t know about you, but my spring bulbs have given me a fantastic show this year, especially considering I wasn’t going to buy and plant any more this past autumn.

Like always, it was very late autumn possibly just into winter, walking around the big DIY sheds and garden centres I spotted bags and bags of tulips and daffodils with massive discounts of at least 75% off.

Jamie Marsh talks all things spring bulbs in his latest column
Jamie Marsh talks all things spring bulbs in his latest column

I just couldn’t resist, and I think I must have bought 300+ bulbs, what a U-turn I did but they were too tempting.

I got them in the ground as soon as I returned home as I knew the time was getting on, and I wanted to give them plenty of time to get going - and like I said earlier what a performance they have given.

After all their hard work over the last couple of months they are now fading and starting to go over, so the next stage in growing bulbs has to be done.

Like the majority of plants after flowers comes seeds, which in most cases is good, but not for daffodils and tulips.

You’ll notice the blooms starting to open wider and wider and then petals start to drop off to leave the seed head behind.

The plant will concentrate on making its seeds, with bulbs we don’t want the seed, what we want is for the tulip to put all of its energy back into the bulb to give it as much help as possible to come back next year.

So what we do is deadhead it - and the best way to deadhead a tulip is to just snap the flower off when you see it going over, just 1-2 inches down and add the spent flowers to the compost.

Now the plant won’t put any energy into making seeds.

We need to leave the foliage as long as you possibly can as well so the plant can keep photosynthesising and turning sunlight into energy, again to make that bulb lovely and strong.

I know now the flowers are no more, just the leaves don’t look that interesting but please try and leave them as long as you can cope with.

If you can, letting the leaves go yellow is ideal because this shows that this particular tulip has gone through its complete life cycle. Now you can cut it down to the ground. I’m leaving mine in the ground but some people lift and dry the bulbs and store them in a dark cool shed ready to re-plant in the autumn.

I know we are several days into May now but I just wanted to say a few words about No Mow May.

No Mow May is just how it sounds - don’t mow your lawns for the month of May.

Lots of people love a perfect bowling green of a lawn, and to be honest I was one of these people until a few years ago when I first took part in No Mow May.

The reason we take part in this now very popular ritual is simple really, it’s to let the wild flowers in your lawn grow to maturity in turn, give pollen and nectar-loving insects some well-deserved foraging because the summer flowers are not out yet and the spring blooms are now disappearing.

Also leaving your lawn to nature for a while introduces biodiversity into your garden, attracting insects and animals into your garden which would not usually be there when your grassed areas are mown short.

There are so many pros for No Mow May, but I have also heard a few people say it’s not good to attract all that life into the grass for four weeks then when you cut it down again, they then have nowhere to go, but how I see it is.

In the four weeks or so you haven’t cut your grass, so much more has grown. In the garden, the fields and the hedgerows, there’s now lots of places for them to go.

Ideally, when it comes to June and your grass is six inches long and the daisies and dandelions are growing strong, it’s not to cut it right back down to a few millimetres straight away, do it over the next several cuts and always try to cut from the middle to the outside to give any frogs and mice chance to leave the non-mown area.

What would be amazing to do and I think looks stunning is to completely leave an area of grass and just mow a path through the middle, then you would see some amazing wildlife and wildflowers appear.

As normal if you have any gardening questions, please email me at Jamieslittleallotment@gmail.com

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