10 things you can do in early spring
Text and photo: Frederik, Udkansk
For many people February is not the most inspiring month in the calendar year. The wind blows, the frost is replaced with rain, the sky is grey and at the same time we look out into the garden to find any sign of spring.
Even though the weather may not indicate it is time for gardening there are still some tasks you can begin to do in the coming weeks. It is always nice to be ahead of time and not before long it is spring, and the number of gardening tasks have increased.
In this article I write about the gardening tasks that you can start doing in early spring, so you are prepared for the new garden season which we all are looking forward to.
And what is more fitting than starting with the seeds that can be germinated now, since we are talking about a new beginning of the garden year.
Task number 1: The first seeds in the soil!
Danes have a great love for crops such as chilli and tomato – especially if you are a owner of a greenhouse. The smell of homegrown greenhouse tomatoes is one of the world’s small miracles if you ask me. We can of course not be without chilli. Today there are so many varieties that anyone can join in when it comes to flavour, strength and appearance.
Chilli and tomatoes are some of the first crops we Danes sow. Partly because the seeds are slow to start growing, and partly because they require heat to germinate. In late February we sow both seeds in small pots with normal good top soil mixed with a bit of washed sand. Many people choose potting soil, but in my experience top soil with a bit of sand works just as well, and besides, the top soil can be used for other purposes.
Before the seeds are sown, the soil should be moist so the seeds are not washed away or misplaced. Now the seeds are sown in the moist soil, they must be placed somewhere that is light and warm. A south-facing window in the living room is ideal. The seeds need 20-25 degrees in order to germinate and after 14 days they will be visible. When the small seedlings start growing, we move them under artificial light in a cooler room to avoid the plant being too long and thin. This will happen if the plant gets too much heat, but not enough sunlight. A plant’s growth is affected by temperature, and if the amount of light does not match the temperature, the young plants will start reaching for the light resulting in growing long and thin. If you do not have artificial light, you can move them to a lighter and cooler place for the right growing conditions.
Other plants that we sow at the same time as tomatoes and chillis are for instance peppers, sweet peas, Cobaea Scandens and artichoke.
Task number 2: Check the lawn
Even though the lawn has not started growing yet, we can still make preparations so it is off to a good start. During winter there will be a lot of fallen leaves, dead grass and moss on the lawn. All this must be raked to allow the grass to get some sunlight and air. In April you can begin cutting and fertilising.
Task number 3: Inspect the robot lawn mower or the lawn mower!
Many home gardeners want a nice lawn, and for this we need the right equipment. Spring is a good time of the year to inspect your garden machines. Empty the petrol mower for petrol, clean the spark plug, change the motor oil and check if the air filter needs replacing. Remove any dried grass under the lawn mower. You can also check whether the blades need to be sharpened or replaced. Dull blades make the ends of the grass seem faded.
Task number 4: Cut down the perennial bed
Some may already have done this in autumn, but we always let the faded perennials stay until the end of February. The sight of faded tops with rime frost is just amazing to see and many perennials have beautiful shapes, which really makes the winter garden look pretty. Besides, they provide food for the birds in terms of seeds from the faded plants. But after a long winter, it is time to cut the faded tops so the new shoots have space to grow.
Task number 5: Compost
A layer of compost is the best thing you can do for your garden. A layer of 5-7 cm will do. This provides nutrients, improves the microbial life and makes the soil structure better for cultivation.
Task number 6: Plant some pretty spring plants in pots
One of the things I like the most in the garden are to cultivate in pots. And I cultivate in pots all year round. The feeling of visiting nurseries in the spring month and get Viola cornuta, forget-me-not, primroses and other great plants, makes me forever excited. But be aware of one snake in paradise: It is important that the plants you buy are hardened plants. This means that the plants have been outside in the changing weather and not only in a sheltered greenhouse. The plants must be used to be outside. Otherwise, they will get a shock, when they eventually are put outside, which will affect the flowering and growth.
Task number 7: Make plans for your vegetable garden
The edible garden has in recent years gradually been incorporated into the life of Danish gardeners, and with good reason. The fact that you can grow your own crops from seed to harvest is simply magic. In spite of the popularity of vegetable gardens in Denmark, the average size of gardens in Denmark have gotten smaller, and thereby, also less space for cultivation of vegetables. Even though the space for a vegetable garden may be reduced to a few raised beds, you can still get a high crop yield if it is properly planned. Therefore, it is a good idea to make a calendar for each crop. Some crops grow fast while other crops need more time. An example of fast crops are salad, radishes, spring onions, spinach, rocket and peas. Some of the fast growing crops can even be recultivated 5 times in one season. Examples of slow growing crops are roots, kale, corn, squash and pumpkin.
Task number 8: Weeds, weeds and more weeds
It is impressive to see the garden grow and start blooming as soon as the light and the warm temperatures return in spring. It is almost like watching it all grow only by looking at it. But this also applies to weeds. The trick is to get an early start while the weeds are still small. In general, weed can be divided in two categories: non-perennial and perennial crops. The non-perennial plants grow fast. They must be fast to grow and to bloom so they can spread their seeds again before the plant dies the same year. When handling a non-perennial weed plant, you must remove them immediately while they are still small and still have not produced seeds.
The perennial weed plants such as goutweed or dandelions can be tricky to get rid of. The thing is, that the plant can easily start growing again from its roots underground, even when you remove the top of the plant. Therefore, the plant usually needs to be dug up to remove it completely, and it is easiest to do this in spring when it is still easy to get to and without doing too much damage.
Task number 9: Pre-germinating seed potatoes
If you would like to get new potatoes in the beginning of the summer, you must start early. In March you can begin the forcing process of your seed potatoes. In general, pre-germination takes 4-5 weeks when pre-germinating potatoes compared to those who need to grow shoots when planted in the vegetable garden.
A prerequisite for success with early potatoes is to choose an early sort. This can for instance be Hamlet, Solist, Frieslander or Swift. All the varieties are delicious and they give good yields.
The procedure is as follows:
When you have chosen the sort, then the potatoes should start their forcing process. Put the potatoes in a flat box and place the box somewhere cool between 12-15 degrees and with sunlight. Make sure to only have one layer of potatoes, so all of them get light. Furthermore, they must have room to evolve and germinate. The shoots should preferable be thick and short and to get this result, they need a lot of light.
Late in March when the shoots are approx. 1 cm long, they are ready to be transplanted in soil. Place the potatoes outside when the spring sun comes.
When the potatoes are ready to be transplanted in soil, they are carefully placed in a depth of 10-15 cm. Be gently when you do this so the small shoots do not break when transplanting them. Cover up the potatoes and irrigate if the soil is dry.
Task number 10: Feed the hungry birds!
Late in the winter months, you can help the birds in the garden by feeding them. Their natural food sources are near exhaustion after a long winter and the competition is tough. The birds are desirable to have in the garden because they are a natural way to control insects that harm our plants. In addition, it is nice to observe the birds at the bird feeder from the living room.
This was my list of things to do in the beginning of spring.
Om Udkansk v/ Nanna & Frederik
Nanna and Frederik are a couple living in Northern Denmark. They post content about plants, nature and garden on their Instagram profile ‘Udkansk’. Furthermore, they are ambassadors for the Greenhouse Forum where they share their garden life and experiences in their Juliana Grand Oase greenhouse.Get to know Udkansk v/ Nanna & Frederik
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