Although it was fairly cold and wet in early February, the recent increase in daylight hours and daytime temperatures mean it is a good time to be thinking about the garden.
If you have borders for bedding plants, dig them out and get rid of all the weeds and add in some good compost. Then after a few days plant some of your spring bedding plants to add a bit of colour to the garden.
And for your vegetable beds, March is a good time to weed them and turn over the soil. Cover them with well-rotted manure or compost and then cover that with black plastic bags, cardboard or old carpet to try to begin warming up the soil. Raised beds will warm up about two weeks before the open ground.
Now is also the time to prune fruit trees and bushes to improve the shape or remove winter damage. It is best to complete this before the true spring. Prune back some of your annual plants too. Shape and reduce the size of overgrown and bulky plants by cutting unwanted stems to the base of the plant or where stems meet. Typically, it is good to remove up to one-third of the stems, especially in overcrowded areas where the foliage is beginning to discolour or die.
You can begin to sow some vegetable seeds, but it will need to be indoors, somewhere warm like a sunny window ledge or in a heated greenhouse (if you happen to have one!) There are many different types of seed propagators available to help with this.
But if you can’t get one of these, why not just plant your seeds in some yogurt pots or any small tubs and pop them even on your bedroom window until they begin to sprout. Water them gently, keeping it a bit moist, but not too wet.
Start with something easy, but also those with a long growing season such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, or in my pot I am planting a Courgette seed. You can also start some lettuce and oriental greens and some of what they call ‘eat & come again’ crops such as spinach which are handy because you can pick a few leaves and the plant continues growing more.
You can also buy the plants as seedlings and nurture them on your window ledge until it is time to plant them outside too. Your local shops and garden centres will have lots of vegetables seeds, seedlings and bedding plants.
You can also begin getting your potatoes ready to sow. You buy special seed potatoes and then before planting, you need to ‘chit‘ them. This involves letting the potatoes grow shoots, which will give you a bigger potato crop. Place seed potatoes in trays or egg cartons with the end that has the most eyes uppermost. Stand in a cool, light spot until 1-2cm long shoots have formed and then later in March we can talk about how to sow them outdoors.
Another thing to think about – is getting a start on some of those jobs we hate like cleaning your decking and furniture, sorting the shed and cleaning the gardening tools and pots. And maybe consider painting your sheds or fences to brighten it up for the summer.
These might not sound like fun jobs, but painting a fence can be something that all the family can do together. And maybe you could even paint a mural if you have a space – like we did last summer in our garden.
Time to get those gardening gloves out and get going!!