How to get your shed and greenhouse ready for spring
Snowdrops are flowering and there are sulphurous catkins on the trees in the hedgerows. It feels like we’re moving towards spring, but this can be the coldest part of winter with snow more likely over the coming weeks than in December. The heavy clay soil in my garden holds on to the cold and wet much longer than a sandier, free-draining soil would so I have to be patient with what I can do in the garden at this time of year.
Tidying out the shed
What I do like to do is to make the most of any mild days by tidying out the shed to get it ready for the seed sowing I’ll be doing next month. I take everything out of the shed and any plants will be moved into the house temporarily as it’s too cold for them to stay outside. An empty space gives me the opportunity to clean the shelves and the potting bench and to sweep the floor. I’ll also give the windows a really good clean, on the inside and out, to remove any dirt that has built up and to maximise the light that can enter as the days get longer.
Sorting through bits and bobs
I have a rule that nothing goes back into the shed unless I know it’ll be used – it’s very tempting to hold on to all sorts of bits and bobs, but now is a good time to be ruthless. Anything that can be recycled goes in one pile, scrappy bits of twine or jute netting, both of which are biodegradable, can go on the compost heap and any plastic pots or trays that I no longer need will be donated to a local community garden.
Cleaning the tools
I also make sure that everything that goes back into the shed is clean. Tools will have soil brushed off them and I’ll use some wire wool to the clean the surfaces before applying some oil to the wooden handles and metal. If they need sharpening I’ll do this now, so they’re ready for spring. Pots, seed trays and plant labels all get a wash in hot, soapy water to get rid of dirt and any pests or diseases they might be harbouring. To remove pencil from plant labels use an eraser or a paste made of bicarbonate of soda and a little bit of water. Plastic can be bad for the environment, but if you already have it in the form of pots and labels it’s much better to look after these by keeping them clean and storing them properly so that they last as long as possible.
Removing dead foliage
Before any plants are moved back into the shed, I’ll give them a quick tidy up, removing any dead foliage or old flower stems.
Cleaning the greenhouse
All these jobs apply to a greenhouse too but pay particular attention to cleaning in all the nooks and crannies of the greenhouse frame to remove any overwintering pests or fungal spores. And cleaning the glass is crucial so that when you come to sow seeds over the coming weeks there won’t be any dirt blocking the light. Clean out the guttering, gathering up any accumulations of leaves – put these on the compost heap – then flush the gutters clear with water from a hosepipe or watering can.
You can then sit down with a cup of tea knowing that everything’s spick and span and you’re ready for spring.
Om Louise Curley
Louise is a horticulturalist, garden writer and author of the award-winning book The Cut Flower Patch. She’s passionate about the power of plants to make us feel happy and is an advocate for organic gardening and encouraging wildlife into gardens.Get to know Louise Curley
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