The Start of the Gardening Year
The days are lengthening and the sun is getting warmer – spring feels like it’s on its way – so it’s time to get out into the garden and tackle the first jobs of the new gardening year.
Photo: Grøn Kommunikation
Originally written by Lars Lund
Edited by Louise Curly
Get the greenhouse ready
- Wash down the glass on the outside and inside to remove dirt and algae. Clean the frame and staging too, using a disinfectant, and remove leaf litter that has collected in the guttering.
- Give pots and seed trays a wash in hot, soapy water.
- Sweep the floor.
- Tidy up over-wintering plants such as pelargoniums, removing any dead or dying leaves.
Washing with soap will get rid of the first pests and green alges.
Photo: Grøn Kommunikation
Prepare the soil
- Hoe off any weeds that have started to germinate.
- Mulch vegetable beds and garden borders with a thick layer of compost.
- Dig in organic chicken manure pellets to vegetable beds and sprinkle seaweed fertiliser around shrubs and perennials.
- Prune roses and summer-flowering clematis before mid-March.
- Cut back deciduous grasses to just above ground level.
Warm up the soil
It can take a while for soil to warm up in spring, especially if it’s been a long winter, which can be a problem if you’re keen to start sowing outdoors. Follow these tips to speed up this process.
- Cover the soil with plastic sheeting to trap the sun’s rays. Cultivate the soil first, removing any weeds, incorporate fertiliser if needed, then cover with a sheet of clear plastic, making sure it’s secured in place so that heat can’t escape, tuck the edges into the soil and weigh down the sides with bricks or stones.
- A deep layer of straw (about 10cm deep) spread on the surface of the soil as a mulch will also work as it traps pockets of air. You can then remove in spring and plant.
- Clay soils in particular hold onto the cold because they absorb so much moisture. On clay soils cloches are best, as they allow this moisture to evaporate, which will speed up the warming process.
Clean paths and patios
The wet weather over winter encourages algae and moss to grow on paths and patios, making them treacherous to walk on. Most hard surfaces can be cleaned with a stiff wire brush and hot water; for stubborn dirt make a paste of bicarbonate of soda with some water and scrub over the surface. If this isn’t enough, then try a specialist cleaner, but look for a product that won’t harm plants, pets or wildlife. You can also use a power washer, but make sure you wear goggles and a face mask.
Om Lars Lund
Danish horticulturist and journalist
Lars Lund has for many years engaged in the garden and greenhouse. Lars has published many books about greenhouses, and he has participated in many Danish horticultural TV shows. He is a walking garden encyclopaedia, and he has answers for most basic cultivation questions – also the more ambitious ones.