Sometimes we get a glimmer of spring in August at this end of the country and for most of us, it is enough to start getting the garden ready for spring planting. Of course nature, doesn’t always play nice so there always a chance of a storm or two!
If you are ready to turn over the soil in preparation for planting your spring crops make sure the ground is dry enough. Working with wet soil will cause the particles to compact and ruin all your good work. If you are unsure, take a lump in your hand it should crumble when squeezed. If it is not ready, hold off a couple of windy days will sort it. As a general rule of thumb, you can prepare your garden beds at least a fortnight of so before planting.
Turn over the soil, and remove any weeds – turning over the soil will expose any bugs that have burrowed into the soil for winter, the birds will take care of the exposed larvae.
Add a layer of compost and sheep pellets and dig through the top layer. Hold off adding blood and bone to the soil until you are ready to plant, as with a lot of powdered fertiliser’s, they will wash away with rain.
If you have homemade compost this is a good time to dig it in the soil, it is richer than bought compost and can burn tender seedlings. Let it settle in the soil for around two weeks before planting.
When you are ready to plant, use a rake to level off the soil and break up any remaining lumps. Finish working the soil in to a nice loose base as you plant.
If your veggie patch has been producing during winter you may only need to freshen the soil by adding compost and sheep pellets for your spring crops.
Potatoes can still be planted now just make sure any frost are over. Add a side dressing of potatoes food to the soil as you plant. Potatoes are classified in to two groups – early and late, an early potato will mature and be ready to harvest a lot earlier approx. 3-4 months, and late group will take longer to mature.
Plant a crop of peas can go in; peas prefer the colder margins of the spring and summer growing season, cool but not cold. Good drainage, plenty of exposure to sun and protection from frost is needed. Use a fertiliser with a low nitrogen base, too much nitrogen will produce excess of green foliage.
Herbs will be showing signs of spring growth give them a feed and remove any old growth that you missed before winter. All new herb plants can be planted now. Leave planting Coriander and Basil till the weather warms up and plant mint in a pot as it can take over the garden.
Slug and snails can make short work of tender young seedlings – protect with Slug and Snail bait.
Give your strawberries a boost by working a handful of blood and bone in to the soil around the plant, water the fertiliser in.
All new fruit trees need to be in the ground by now, so complete all plantings.
Protect your fruit trees by using barrier bands; they stop any crawling bugs especially codlin moth making their way up the tree. Use an old stocking, corrugated cardboard or hessian and smear it with Vaseline or any thick non hardening sticky material. Tie around the trunk of your fruit trees about half a metre up, replace when necessary.
Codlin moth and guava pheromone traps should be hung now to trap and interrupt the breeding cycle.
Remove winter annuals that have passed their best. Add compost and plant new seasons flowers.
Give you spring bulbs a side dressing of blood and bone and once again as they start to die away.
Plant Dahlia bulbs now for flowering in summer
Give your perennials a liquid feed as they start producing new growth.
Lawns will be nice and lush with spring growth and it probably needs a little attention after winter and before the hotter months arrive.
Fix any hollows in the lawn by cutting around the area a little larger than the hollow. Carefully lift up the existing turf up by pushing your spade underneath at a depth of about 6-8 cm. If it is a large area you may need to lift in pieces, put the turf to one side. Use topsoil to fill the hollow, slightly overfill as it will settle in time. Tamp the new soil down with the end of your rake, place your turf back and again firm it down with the end of your rake – water well until the grass settles and the patch merges.Take care of any broadleaf weeds like dandelion, dock and daisies with a selective weed killer.
Finally give the lawn some fertiliser, apply evenly, leaving clumps of fertiliser will burn the grass, water it well.