Martin Fish with seasonal ideas for the garden

Martin Fish, show director of the Harrogate Flower Shows, offers some seasonal advice to get your garden in shape for spring

The arrival of spring means there is plenty to do in the garden after a long, cold winter. Spring also brings the start of the flower show season and one of the largest and most well known takes place here in Yorkshire.

Preparations are now well under way for the 83rd Harrogate Spring Flower Show which is organised by the North of England Horticultural Society and takes place on the Great Yorkshire Showground from April 22nd-25th. The show attracts the top nurseries and exhibitors from across the UK who create stunning displays to inspire the 58,000 visitors.

The Harrogate shows in spring and autumn are generally regarded as ‘proper’ gardening shows and cater for gardeners of all abilities, from beginners to experienced.

New for 2010 is Kitchen Garden Live where talks and demonstrations will take place throughout the day on how to get started with growing vegetables, fruit and herbs.

There is also a new horticultural sundries marquee, the Garden Roadshow, Fodder Cookery Theatre plus magnificent flower arrangements, over 100 top nurseries and activities for all the family.

Plant a spring containerOne of the easiest ways to add some extra colour and interest to your garden or patio this spring is to plant a container. At this time of the year there is a huge choice of plants available with brightly coloured flowers and interesting foliage. Many of the plants you can use, such as dwarf evergreen, conifers, heather, polyanthus, and potted bulbs can be planted out into the garden at a later date where they will carry on growing for many years.

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Potatoes in pots There’s nothing nicer than a boiling pan of freshly dug potatoes and an easy way to grow some new potatoes is to plant them in containers. Half fill a large pot with compost, place two or three seed potatoes on the surface and cover with a few inches of compost. Keep the compost moist and as the shoots appear gradually add more compost until the pot is full. Three months after planting you will have fresh new potatoes to eat.

Feed bordersTo help your garden plants get off to a good start they need to have a steady supply of nutrients to keep them healthy and growing. Now is a good time to feed the soil in your borders with a general fertiliser such as Growmore or Blood, Fish & Bone. Simply scatter the fertiliser between the plants where it will wash down to the roots.

Easy strawberriesStrawberries are much sweeter and tastier when freshly picked and they are a fast maturing crop so plants potted now will produce a crop of berries this summer. Four or five plants in a hanging basket will provide delicious fruits in summer.

Salad daysSalads are easy to grow in the garden or in containers. To keep a steady supply of fresh salads through the summer sow little and often in plug trays. When the plants are an inch or two tall, they can be planted into the garden to grow on.

The 2010 Spring Flower Show runs from April 22nd-25th, 9.30am-5.30pm (4.30pm Sunday), at the Great Yorkshire Showground. Tickets cost �14 (Sun �12) on the gate, or you can save �2 per ticket by booking before noon on Tuesday April 13th. Call the ticket hotline on 0844 873 3303 or go to

Martin Fish

Martin is the show director of the Harrogate Flower Shows and took up his position last October to start planning the 2010 Spring and Autumn Flower Shows.

Originally from a Nottinghamshire mining village, Martin has worked in horticulture since leaving school at the age of 16. Instead of a job at the village mine, Martin joined the local parks department as an apprentice gardener and went on to study horticulture at full-time college.

At 21 years old Martin was appointed head gardener at Rufford Abbey in Nottinghamshire where he remained until he started his own nursery and landscape business.

For the past 17 years Martin has broadcast gardening programmes for BBC radio and television in the East Midlands and writes for several gardening publications and newspapers. Martin and his wife Jill transformed their six-acre plot into a series of demonstration gardens that were used as part of his writing and broadcasting work.

Martin and Jill, who is the cookery writer for Garden News, now live near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, where they are developing a new garden. As well as the flower shows, Martin is continuing with some of his writing and is one of the gardening experts on BBC Radio York.

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