It’s that time of year where it’s not always obvious what we should be doing in the garden. In between winter and spring. Springter?
The winter digging regime by now ( for me at least ) is completed. At home a list of pruning tasks are also complete (these included Wisteria, Climbing Roses, Buddleja and Late Flowering Clematis amongst others.) You might start to think about taking up the ancient art of thumb twiddling.
The grass hasn’t really got going yet, and the ground is still too cold to plant anything out for at least a few weeks yet (barring Garlic and Onion Sets.) You’re potatoes are chitting away nicely, and you might even have some seedlings on the windowsill. Or you might not. You might be of the mind set that it’s still to early to be sowing seeds. There’s no right or wrong here. But what else can we be doing in our gardens ?
Well apart from twiddling your thumbs ( it’s an art form that can be practiced anywhere), quite a lot.
Here are just a few thing’s that I have been getting up to over the past couple of days.
1. Preparing the ground.
Although the main winter digging is complete, You might, like me wan’t to achieve a fine tilth, especially if you are going to direct sow anything ( About 60 % of my seeds are sown directly) This means to achieve a Crumbly, fine texture in the soil. For heavy clumpy clay ( I’m not sure about other soil types as clay is all I know.) it can seem daunting, near impossible perhaps, to achieve this without the use of a tiller or a Rotovator. Rototiller if you’re from the states, I believe. (And that was my initial plan; a bloke on our site, known as Ronnie the Rotovator, will do it for you for 60 quid – I’m not sure if that’s a nationwide service he provides or just on our site.), but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted the job to be my own, without the use of heavy, loud, polluting machinery.
The way I do it is (…the hard way, just use a tiller, the end….) the way I do it, is by taking an old rake and absolutely abusing it, bashing, thrashing and whacking lumps of clay with in an inch of their lives. Keep going over it until the clumps start to break down and then by using the rake how it was intended to be used, you will get there. It’s actually relatively easy once you get going, and something I enjoy.
Perhaps one day I will be known as ‘master of the tilth’. The neighbours will ask ‘ Did Ronnie the Rotovator do that for you?’ And I shall say ‘ No! It was I, with bare hand and rake’ and across the site Jaws will drop. Looking at these pictures perhaps not. But I am pleased none the less. And I saved 60 quid.
2. Keep on Weeding.
They never stop. They literally never stop, and if you don’t stop weeding they’ll quickly get on top of you. Although It’s also good idea to leave some of the flowering weeds for the bees. With sunny days becoming more frequent ( Hoorah!) Bee’s are tricked out of hibernation (Booo) at this time of year and there’s not a lot of flowers out there at the moment for them to feed on. The same goes for our birds: keep on feeding as there’s still a lack of natural sources of food for them at this time of year. It’s nice to be nice. They’ll never return the favour though , if that’s what you’re hoping. They probably won’t even thank you for it. Rude.
3. Repair and replace.Check over everything. This way you will be fully prepared for the coming season and you won’t be caught out by that broken cloche you forgot about or that smashed pane of glass in the greenhouse. Also keeping on top of your tools is an essential part of good husbandry. I try to clean mine after every use, especially with things like secateurs which can quite easily spread diseases if you’re not careful.
Go on, have a brew, sit down. KitKat? You’ve worked hard over the winter. You can afford to take a bit of time out, in a few weeks it’s going to be wonderfully hectic. Take a bit of time to plan and take stock. Even if it’s just in your head. Think things over. It’s what I’m doing right now as a write this, sitting at the plot in-between achieving that jaw-droppingly good tilth ( Ha!).
These are just a few of the things that have been keeping me busy recently. I’d love to hear what you’ve been getting up to in the garden and how you’ve avoided the old thumb twiddle.
The Signs of spring are increasing daily; just this morning I head the first croak of a frog in the pond. Soon the to-do list will be through the roof and you won’t know whether you’re coming or going. What an exciting prospect!