Spring is the best time of year for many gardeners. After the rather barren winter months, life starts to show through again. Plants are much like us: once the sun begins to shine and the earth begins to warm, they start to emerge from their beds in search of light (just as you’re probably now planning sunny days out, after plenty of cozy lie-ins on your VOC-free mattress over winter. Whether you already have an established garden, or are looking to get one started, these are the key things you need to do in your garden in spring.
Check Your Soil
It is important to make sure your soil is balanced and has the nutrients your plants need in it. Check the acid balance of your soil: most plants like a neutral soil, which means a ph reading of around 7 or just below. Soil PH testers are easy and cheap to buy from garden centers. If your soil is too acidic, then use lime to neutralize it. Organic matter helps feed plants, and should be mixed into your soil. If you don’t already have a compost heap, now might be the time to start one, or you can buy commercial compost in bags.
Treat Your Lawn
To have a healthy lawn, you need healthy soil. You don’t need strong chemical fertilizers. Some fertilizers can actually damage the lawn, causing the leaves to grow quicker than the roots and actually encouraging weeds. If your lawn is looking a little tired after winter, then there are things you can do to get it looking green and gorgeous without the need for chemicals. First, check its ph balance as you did for your soil. It should be slightly acidic, so around ph 5-6. Make sure you lawn is well aerated. Work over it with a fork, allowing both water and air to get to the roots of your grass. Spring is the best time of year to get rid of moss, which will start to grow quickly in summer. Use an organic lawn treatment to eliminate moss and get the grass looking healthy.
Spring is the time of year to make plans for your garden. What do you want to achieve over the next year? If you are just starting your garden, then you have a blank canvas. If you already have a mature garden, think about what you might like to do with it. Do you want to put in some new beds? Create a new water feature? Lay a new patio for summer barbecues? As plants grow best at this time of year, it is the ideal time to try out some new things.
Plant Flowers and Shrubs
This is a good time of year to sow some hardy annuals. Some less-hardy annuals should be started indoors, and then planted out in a month or so. Spring is also a good time to plant new shrubs and perennials, and to move shrubs from pots into beds. Make sure that before you plant anything you give your beds a thorough weeding: if the plants that you are putting out are growing fast, so will any weeds, so make sure you get them before they grow and become a nuisance. It is a good idea to give your beds a cover of organic fertilizer too.
Work on Your Vegetable Garden
If you haven’t grown vegetables before, this could be the right time to start. After the last frost, you have license to plant pretty much anything in your vegetable plot. In Montgomery County, the last frost date is in early May. This is the easiest and most rewarding time of year to grow vegetables, so it is a good time to start if you are a beginner vegetable gardener. Try lettuce, cabbage, beets, broccoli, potatoes, pumpkins, corn and squash to name just a few. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumber can also be planted in spring, but they are best started indoors and then gently moved outside.
Spring gardening is fun. You get to see the fruits of your labors very quickly, and being out working on the garden is much more enjoyable in the warmer weather than it was in winter. If you don’t have your own garden, why not join a local garden club such as the Old York Road Garden Club in Jenkintown?