Gardening: It's almost spring! Time to get a head start on gardening jobs
Get your garden visitor-ready for when lockdown ends, says Hannah Stephenson
AS THE end of lockdown for many of us edges closer, now is the perfect time to get ahead on all those spring jobs in the garden, so that once we can welcome visitors back into our outdoor spaces, we can sit back and relax. Garden expert Matt Jordan of The Greenhouse People (greenhousepeople.co.uk) offers the following tips for planning and preparing your garden for the season ahead:
Get planning: Anyone with green fingers should have a plan for their garden ahead of spring. This could be anything from planting positions to a colour scheme, but it's crucial to know the growing schedule of plants to create your perfect oasis.
Some seeds do better if you sow them earlier under glass, like geraniums, or aubergines if you're planning on growing your own veg, so make sure you don't delay on crops and flowers that are going to take longer to come to fruition.
Map out the rest of your growing schedule for the months ahead in a journal or a handy mobile app like Garden Plan Pro (gardenplanpro.com). You start by creating a 3D plan of your growing patch on your smartphone or tablet and as you add crops, the app automatically spaces them correctly and advises on succession sowing month-by-month to get the most from your plot. It can also collect geolocation data to give you personalised recommendations for the best plants to grow and when.
Start your own compost heap: As you prepare your garden for spring, you'll likely end up with a lot of green waste, all of which can be used to start your own compost heap. You can also put vegetable kitchen waste to good use and help lighten the strain on local waste collection services during the pandemic by chucking that on the heap too.
Layering materials is the ultimate way to get the most out of your compost – regularly add alternating layers of green (nitrogen-rich) materials like grass cuttings, weeds and uncooked vegetable peelings, and brown (carbon-rich) materials like leaves, wood chippings, shredded paper, cardboard and sticks to allow the compost to truly thrive.
Clean up garden furniture: It's unlikely your garden furniture has been used for a while now, especially with the recent snowfall in the UK and the ban on household mixing. With spring comes more opportunities to sit out in the garden and eat al fresco, so make sure you have an enjoyable space to enjoy the weather.
If you already have garden furniture, a bucket of soapy water and a sponge should do the trick to clean them up, whether they're wood or plastic. It's also a good time to wash any outdoor cushion covers stored away if you haven't already.
If you're looking for new outdoor furniture, don't dismiss second-hand or DIY options. Scour Facebook marketplace for old pieces locally that you can upcycle at a lower cost. Items often just need a good clean or sand and a lick of paint.
Spring clean your greenhouse or lean-to: Greenhouses are largely neglected in the colder months as the growing season ends and gardening slips to the back of our minds.
To make sure your greenhouse is ready to go come spring, wipe away any moss, algae and general grime that has built up on the glass and metal over the winter with an antibacterial detergent.
It's also good practice to turn over the soil, adding fresh nutrient-rich compost to the mix as you go. Sweep out the debris after your spring clean and voila! Your greenhouse is looking as good as new.
Start collecting rainwater for sustainable watering: Although the months ahead are warmer, spring is famous for its downpours. To garden more sustainably in 2021, consider investing in a butt to collect rainwater to feed your plants and lawn. It's both cost-effective and eco-friendly.
Rainfall water is the best type for plants as tap water is generally a little too alkaline.