For a lot of us looking at our garden beds this time of the year can be disheartening. There tends to be a lot of bare patches of dirt, devoid of any colour or greenery. While these bare patches can be depressing, one should rather look at them as a blank canvas full of promise awaiting your vision. With spring on our doorstep, all our fingers are itching to get dirty and do some gardening, but before we can actually start planting we have to first prepare our soil correctly.
Weeding: The bane of all gardeners is sure to be weeds, especially in our garden beds where the only option is to dig them out. Now is the perfect time to get a head start on your weeding before they can spread in your garden. When weeding, it is essential to remove all the roots along with the plant to prevent them from emerging again after a couple of weeks. A key part when weeding is to get rid of the weeds before they can set seed, as a wise gardener once said ‘one years seeding is seven years weeding’. The work that you put in now during the early season in regards to weeding will save you plenty of work later on in the year.
Compost: While it may seem like an unnecessary task to work in fresh compost every year especially when you have added plenty of compost the previous year it remains one of the most important tasks in the garden. Adding compost remains the best way to perk up your soil, by improving the fertility and water retention of your soil. Dig fresh compost into the top layer of your soil, trying to mix the compost in as thoroughly as possible with your existing soil. Be careful of digging too deep as this will disturb the micro-organisms that are of such great benefit to our gardens. Compost also encourages beneficial soil insects, earthworms and micro-organisms to take up residence in your garden. If you have problems with drainage or if the soil is holding water in too much, I recommend working some river sand into the soil to improve drainage in addition to your compost.
Feeding: Each year the nutrients in our soil are depleted from the plants using up the nutrients. If we don’t replace those nutrients our plants will struggle to grow and perform well below our expectations. I prefer using an organic fertilizer early in the season as it won’t burn your plants and keeps on feeding for up to 4 months. Using a fertilizer like Bounce Back is ideal, just scatter the pellets at a rate 100g per m² and mix it in with your soil. After your compost and fertilizer is in, rake the soil level taking care not to compact the soil.
Mulching: Mulch has numerous benefits for our gardens but for now I’ll delve into the major advantages for this time of the year. Mulch is great at suppressing weeds by preventing the seed from germinating and it saves water, by reducing soil water evaporation by up to 70%. Mulch will also help prevent the compaction of your soil by forming a protective layer on top of the soil. Virtually any material can be used as mulch from bark chips, leaf mould, dried grass clippings, to gravels and pebbles. Generally the denser the mulch the thinner you have to apply it, 3cm thick and spread out evenly being a good starting point.
Now that your soil is ready, let your thoughts wander to what you are going to plant. Inspiration can be found everywhere, magazines, the internet, or just a relaxing walk through your suburb. Feel free to make use of our helpful staff who will provide solutions for your problems and make sure you have the right plants in for your garden