Spring is undoubtedly a very busy time of year for all gardeners as there are a magnitude of things to do and a lot of it will come around quicker than you think. With spring just around the corner, many keen gardeners will be chomping at the bit to get back outside and create their paradise for the rest of the year.
And whether you are putting in new raised beds for the season or just bringing your existing ones up to scratch, starting this early on, so long as the ground isn’t frozen, will set you in good stead.
It’s also a great place for children to start helping out as the tasks themselves are not too demanding – depending on how much you have to do of course.
No doubt, wherever you are, the winter has been a windy one and has caused some havoc around the garden. Despite being ‘fairly’ good and clearing the leaves in the Autumn, somehow those piles of leaves always seem to appear in the corner of the garden so late on into the winter. It must just be those stubborn ones that cling on the the tree for dear life until a sudden gust comes along and takes them away.
That said, when you look around the garden, there are a lot of twigs, and just general winter debris that needs clearing up.
It is especially important to clear up the debris that lies on your on flower beds or where you might have bulbs growing so that new shoots are not concealed which could cause them to get accidentally trodden on.
By clearing the winter debris, it also paves the way for other important jobs to be getting on with. Let’s face it, when that sun finally does come out, the last task that you are going to want to be doing is clearing debris!
Getting the beds ready for spring
This is probably on of the most important jobs to do and it one that the kids can help out with too. Making sure that your soil is ready for planting, will save you bags of time later on when the weather warms up and it also means that you can just get straight on with the fun stuff because all of the hard work has been done.
In terms of getting the beds ready, you should be looking to clear all of the weeds from the beds and give them a good forking over to the depth of a standard garden fork. This will allow aeration of the soil as well as help to loosen up the flower beds where the soil has become compacted. This will make it a lot easier for the roots of your new plants to establish. By digging over the garden, it will also bury weeds – they will simply decompose in the soil over time. One note to mention here is not to dig over weeds that seed – you will only create yourself a bigger problem down the line. These should be removed from the garden completely.
If you are looking to plant small plants into the beds, then it is worth spending a little more time on this task to break the soil up into a fine density. It is also worth raking the flower bed afterwards. By having a finer soil, it will make it easier for those delicate roots to settle into the bed.
Once you have cleared the weeds and have a good consistency in the soil, dig in some organic matter to enrich the bed. A good selection of compost will be available from your local garden centre.
There is no doubt about it that this is going to be quite a labour intensive task, especially if you have a lot of ground to do. It also helps by having a good fork to do the work. Personally, I use the Spear & Jackson fork – it has a really comfortable handle and the quality is just superb.
Get the garden tools ready for spring
You can’t forget the garden tools. Unless you are extremely lucky to be able to continue gardening through the winter because you have a large greenhouse, the chances are, your tools have been sitting around all of Winter gathering some dust. Come spring, they are going to be working pretty hard for you again, and you are going to want to make sure that they are in tip top condition. It is most certainly worth taking the mower down to the local service centre and getting a service. The most important element is to ensure that the blade on your mower is nice and sharp. If your blade is blunt, it will actually damage the grass when you cut it – not something that you want to do on the first cut of the season.
As with all of the Hand Tools, make sure that they are lovely and clean and ready for use. If you are likely to be using shears for any cutting in the seasons ahead, make sure your blades are nice and sharp. Until you sharpen them, you don’t realise just how much hard work it was before. A great piece of kit to do this is the Felco F902 Ceramic Sharpening Stone, a product that I simply cannot fault – the reviews speak for themselves.
Garden Planning for spring
Whilst this isn’t a task that you will do outside per se, this one is great to involve the children. There are a lot of things to consider when planning a garden for the year. When putting in any vegetables or flowers, there are some important factors to consider:
- How much sun will the plants need vs how many areas of the garden get full sun?
- How much water will they require; is this something that I will be able to do easily?
- Soil types; will the plants that I am planning on planting like their new home?
- Can the children easily help care for the plants?
- What support will the plants need? Have you got resources to provide such support? Such as bamboo canes.
- And lastly; How much time will I need to dedicate to this plant? eg. Tomato plants will require regular attention or will simply grow and grow and produce less fruit.
I know that seems a fairly extensive list but some plants will require a lot more care than others. For example, if you are looking to plant sunflowers for the children, these will need support in terms of bamboo sticks and mainly water to stop them drying out (they like their sun!). Other than that, they are fairly hardy plants.
It is important to think about all aspects of a garden when planning the year ahead as the last thing that you want to do is allow any plants to die. That said, sometimes this does happen for reasons outside of your control. But if you know that for a certain period of time, you might not be available to water the plants for two weeks, you may have a problem when you return and to much disappointment to your children. If watering where the only obstacle, then there are some quite simple solutions to get around it, such as irrigation (we will be writing about this soon).
If you are able to complete these four areas alone, you will be in excellent shape to start the spring garden with very little effort. And what’s more, it is really important to include the children in this journey too. Understanding how to get the garden ready is such an important step to growing all of those wonderful flowers and vegetables that you are going to experience in the next 6 months.
Other outside preparations you can make before spring
Other areas that you might want to think about before the spring arrives will be your general outside areas. In the early spring, one thing we always do is jet wash all of the outside area to get rid of the algae that has grown over the winter months – predominantly due to there not being as much sun. We also take the opportunity to clean out the bbq and the children’s outdoor toys at the same time.
The lawn is also an important area that you might want to address in early spring. From experience, getting the supplies to do this out of season is a fair amount cheaper than doing it in season. Buying it one month in advance, may well end up saving you a few pennies. If you are looking for a pet and child friendly feed, we would recommend the Westland SafeLawn Lawn Feed.
So despite there not being much growing in the garden before spring comes along, there is a lot to be getting on with. And there is also so much that the children can help out with. As well as all the fun stuff of planting up seeds and getting the plugs into the ground, this also offers children a great learning experience in that the environment that the plants grow up in is just as important.
We’d love to hear how your children help you in the clear up before the growing season!