Guest contributor Compost Direct gives advice on spring garden preparation.
Are you one of those gardeners that only head out to your garden in the warmer months? Well now is the time to get out.
There are plenty of activities you could be doing outdoors before the Summer comes. From preparing your soil for bedding, tidying up borders and caring for the local wildlife. Read on as we find out what you should be doing in the garden right now:
The colder temperatures can lead to the growth of the flora in your garden coming to a halt. This can be beneficial for young seedlings, as pests are less likely to hinder their growth. The cold can damage your soil too, draining some of its nutrients. There are some things that you can do though to prepare your garden for the season ahead.
Why not mulch your soil to add extra protection for your plants? Wood chips are a good choice for this, as they protect the soil from the harsh conditions that come with the colder months. Avoid de-weeding if you can too. Some of the common garden weeds often form layers over the soil that helps protect it from erosion. Consider what you’re planning on growing too. If they’re plants that don’t grow well in alkaline soil (e.g. blueberries, azaleas), you might think about integrating ericaceous compost into your garden.
Can anything grow over the winter?
There are still plants that will happily thrive in the colder months. Antirrhinums (aka snapdragons) for example, can survive the cold — plant them around February time for some early blooms. They can be grown in a range of colours and can brighten up your wintery garden before other plants begin to bloom. Star-shaped flowers, Laurentia, can also be planted now as they are resistant against a slightly colder climate. Expect these to add a pop of blue, pink or white to your yard when they flower.
You have less to worry about if you have a greenhouse in your back yard. You can sow sweet peas in a greenhouse, cold frame or cool place indoors, for example, and they should grow with no issues.
There are some plants that enjoy the longer growth season too. Leeks for example take a while to grow, so set them off in the winter under cover. Hardy broad beans are relatively resistant to the cold too and can be grown outdoors. As long as the soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged, raspberry canes and blackberries can be planted and will grow successfully.
What about the fauna?
It’s nice to be friendly to the local wildlife in the colder months. If wildlife visit your back yard in the colder months, it’s likely that they’ll return through the spring and summer too. Wildlife such as insects can help with pollination, while larger animals can eliminate the pests that hinder plant growth.
Birds can lose their energy in the cold months, often in search of food. Fatty foods can help with this — leave fat blocks packed full of fruit seeds and dried mealworms out in wire cages for birds to snack on.
Why not let plants become overgrown in the winter? This can act as a hub for hedgehogs and small animals, as they feed off the scarce flowers and berries. Many animals take shelter in leaf litter too, as it protects them from the lower temperatures.
Watch out for animals becoming dehydrated in the colder months — often their sources of water freeze over and they struggle to find fresh water. If you do leave out water, be sure to leave pebbles in the water so that smaller animals and insects can take a drink without fear of falling in the water.
There is plenty to keep you busy before spring and summer are underway. Getting preparation in early can help your crop grow successfully through the warmer months, keep your lawn looking in top condition and add some colour to your back yard through early bloomers.