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March 2006
THE PENNINE VILLAGE OF LUDDENDEN
Silver Medal - Britain in Bloom 2005

March has arrived with its usual unpredictable weather. Frost and snow are not the gardeners friend, but if you are up at sunrise you will hear the dawn chorus announcing that spring is just around the corner.

Spring Judging Day
We have been contacted by the 'Yorkshire in Bloom' Team and the date for spring judging has been confirmed as Friday 7th April. As mentioned in the last newsletter we are in the same category as former winners. We do though have every reason to believe that with the experience gained in last years 'Britain in Bloom' competition, along with community spirit in the village, that we are one of the pacemakers this year. Not that we can rest on our laurels so once again we ask that everyone joins in and does whatever they can to make the village bloom and is kept clear of litter and dog fouling.

What's been happening around the village
The Horse Chestnut tree in the churchyard was felled last year due to disease and as a result created the opportunity to make some flowerbeds along the sidewall of the church. So with the blessing of the vicar and the help of the congregation a work party was undertaken on Saturday 4th March to clear and plant up the area with spring bulbs. The in Bloom team have furthermore been asked to plant up this area with sustainable planting to give some all round colour. Once the plans are drawn up it is hoped to raise the necessary funds for plants by means sponsorship from the congregation and villagers.

As mentioned in the last newsletter the in Bloom team will be running 2 plant stalls this year on Sat 29th April and Sat 20th May between 10am & 2pm. They will again be set up outside the old paper shop. So if you have any plants to donate then we will more than happy to receive them but please label them so we know what they are!! We will again have a selection of vegetable, perennial plants and summer bedding for sale

Jobs to do this month

With the weather as unpredictable as it is and with the village being at the foot of the Pennines it is still too early to plant out most things that are not protected by a green house, cloche or cold frame. There are of course the exceptions provided the soil is not frozen or water logged.

Sweet peas can be sown directly around the base of an obelisk or other support. Gladioli bulbs can usually be planted out at the end of March and through April. Trim of faded blooms from heathers, winter flowering pansies and early daffodils. Roses and other shrubs should be given a dose of fertilisers around their base to help promote strong growth. Established herbaceous perennials that have formed large clumps can be dug up and split. Don't forget to fork in plenty of compost when you re-plant them and don't forget our plant stall for any you have over.

If you have a green house now is the time to start you summer bedding from seed. Chrysanthemum and dahlia growers should be looking to take cuttings around this time. Be adventurous in your greenhouse this year and try cucumbers, melons and peppers along with your usual tomatoes. On warm days don't forget to ventilate the greenhouse and always keep a watering can of water inside to aid humidity and also provide your plants and seeds with a warm drink rather that a ice cold one from the tap.

Seed potatoes should be laid out in trays in plenty of light to develop tiny shoots (this is called chitting). Once they have sprouted it is entirely up to you how you grow them. Plant them out on rows in the vegetable plot or if space is at a premium plant them in large pots or alternatively in a large compost bag. Slice of the top of the bag and cut drainage slits in the bottom, and then place your chitted potato straight in the top.

March is usually the month to plant direct into to the soil carrots, broad beans, peas, beetroot, radishes, lettuce, onions, parsnips, sprouts and cabbage. Don't forget to tune into the weather forecast and protected your seedlings from the frost.

Pest Control
The down side of the warmer days is that pests will become active. Before you start reaching for the insecticide think about how to attract nature's pest controllers. For examples ladybirds in their distinctive shades of red, black and yellow and their less well known blacked coated mottled with orange larvae have a tremendous appetite for aphids, scale insects, mealy bugs and some caterpillars. Ladybirds are easily attracted to your plot if you provide shelter. Hollow stems and dry bark in protected areas of the garden along with a roll of bamboo canes the length of a pencil tied up and hung under the eaves of a shed are ideal. More on pest control in the next newsletter.

Jason Boom 881452
Roland Mier 885100