Get the garden ready for spring
It’s not long now – that magical time of growth in the garden when flowers unfurl and scents abound. But as the warmer weather of spring approaches, now is the perfect time to get your garden into shape.
Follow these seven simple steps and you will be rewarded for many months to come.
Weed out nasties
Unwanted weeds compete with plants for soil nutrition and leave them open to attack by insects and diseases. Pull them up as soon as you see them.
Remove weeds by hand, making sure that the roots are lifted as well. You can compost your weeds, but your compost heap must be working efficiently for the seeds to be killed.
Place hard-to-kill bulbous, perennial and seeded weeds in a plastic bag and tie the top. Leave it in the sun for a couple of months to rot and then toss the rotted weeds on the compost heap.
Get rid of weeds as soon as they appear, as one weed can quickly turn into hundreds once it goes to seed.
Check for weeds in lawns and top-dress if necessary with compost to repair any bare patches.
Place annual weeds that have not gone to seed directly back onto the soil surface, where they will eventually break down and condition the soil. Leaving them in situ adds mulch and saves you the trouble of taking them to the compost heap.
Be organic and spray vinegar onto weeds on pathways and between pavers. Take care that the spray doesn’t drift onto plants you don’t want to kill. Boiling water also kills weeds on pathways.
Rejuvenate the soil
Not only is healthy soil the key to good gardening and thriving plants, it also holds water for longer periods.
Soil needs to be conditioned regularly, and the end or beginning of each season is an ideal time.
Organic matter is the best conditioner. As it disintegrates in the soil, it helps to build soil structure and supplies beneficial nutrients.
Conditioners also encourage earthworm activity, which breaks down root mats and opens up
tunnels for oxygen and water to penetrate the soil. These tunnels are coated with nitrate-rich mucus, and the plant roots rapidly take advantage of this nutrition.
Add a layer of compost to your soil. Compost is full of goodness and nourishes the soil while increasing its water-holding capacity by at least 30%. And by recycling organic waste, you’re ensuring that less rubbish ends up in landfill.
Try mushroom compost, or cow or chicken manure, for an effective alternative conditioner if you don’t have compost.
Use a seaweed product, such as Seasol, to help promote valuable microorganisms in the soil that are beneficial to plant health.