Friday, 2 March 2012

Spring vegetable gardening tips

With the weather finally improving (a little bit) and the days getting longer, it's a good time to get back out in the garden to start growing this year's vegetable bounty.
And unless you've been super-diligent over the winter - the chances are that you're going to have a lot of work on your hands getting things straight.

Doing the groundwork
The first thing you'll need to do is repair the ravages of winter, which will mean weeding your vegetable beds and possibly digging in some fresh compost from your heap as you turn the soil over.

You may wish to add additional material such as seaweed, animal manures (well rotted) or shredded leaves - but do be sure to check they are compatible with the crops you intend to grow.

If you're re-using pots (and you should) then give them a good wash, possibly in sterilising liquid if you have seen any evidence of disease.

Stock up
Buy your seed potatoes now because you can store them yourself and nurseries often sell out. Also get your onion and garlic sets - if using them.

Other veg seeds you can buy as you need, but you should already have a plan of what you are growing and where so why not get the lot in one go - to give yourself more time in the garden.

Overwintered or not?
If you've sown hardy crops that can survive over the winter months - such as onions, garlic and broad beans - then you will need to keep these tidy and weed around them.

But if you haven't been that organised, then these are among the first things you'll want to get in the ground, so that they have time to mature for the early summer.

Beets, radishes, spinach and spuds can all go in around the end of February or start of March as well, although it's a good idea to stay flexible and take your direction from the weather.

Growing under glass
If you have a greenhouse, or even just a polytunnel, this is the perfect place to start off your young veggies and give them a bit of protection from the elements and wildlife.

If you intend to plant out later though, do make sure that the veg in question can handle being transplanted. Some don't like it at all.

And be sure to give the greenhouse a good clean and scrub, perhaps using a slug trap to catch the lettuce munching pests.

What about the rest?
Many vegetables need to be sown in late spring, ie. April or May, but you can certainly get their beds ready beforehand.

Now the ground is softer you could dig a compost trench and fill it with your kitchen waste, ready to sow particularly hungry veggies such as pumpkins or squashes later.
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