Welcome back to Gardenwise! As the days get longer and the sun gets stronger, it’s time to look outside and reconnect with the garden. We need it now more than ever – it’s not only a distraction from the news headlines, it grounds, calms and soothes and helps give us hope for the future. As the plants wake up and the birds get busy, a little time spent tending to the garden now will pay huge dividends – in lots of ways.
Although warmer days are still en route, the extra light is already making a visible difference and growth is underway. Getting on top of these tasks now, even if it means wrapping up well and dodging the odd hail shower, will mean less work later on and more time to enjoy the garden when the weather invites us to sit outside. So if you can find the time to get some jobs done, here are the top tasks to tackle over the next couple of weeks: Weeds are already popping up all over the place. As an organic gardener, I don’t use chemicals, but experience has taught me that nipping them in the bud early is well worth the effort. The annual ones won’t have a chance to seed themselves around if you get busy with the hoe and the perennials such as dandelions and docks are easier to pull out when smaller, roots and all.
Unless you have very rich soil, your plants will be glad of an early feed to provide them with some nutrients for all the work they’re about to do – I use chicken manure pellets or fish, blood and bone in powdered form - just remember to wear gloves. Mulch borders with organic matter – there’s a lot of confusion about this, but it just means spreading a thick (7 to 10cm ) layer of farmyard manure or homemade compost over the soil to enrich and improve it, which in turn will improve the plants – you’re giving them better living conditions and a better diet, so they’ll be healthier. This layer will be incorporated into the soil over time by earthworms and friends, so a yearly top up is ideal. If it’s thick enough, your mulch layer retains moisture in the soil (so less watering is needed ) and blocks the light so that weed seeds can’t germinate. Always apply to damp soil and remove any weeds first. As perennial plants are only just emerging from their winter sleep, now is the perfect time to mulch, as soon the new foliage will have spread out to cover the earth and you won’t want to damage it by spreading manure!
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