Jobs To Do In The Garden In Spring
- Posted on
- By Andy Steele
By Dawn Hinsley March 19th, 2015
Of all the seasons, I always think of spring as being the most aptly named. It is the time of year when gardeners, who have been chomping at the bit for months, finally get the chance to leap back into action.
Arriving in March (meteorological season on March 1 and astronomical season on March 20) it’s a glorious time of year – bursting with anticipation and potential. With this in mind, gardeners are most busy in spring. And, the harder you work now, the more fruits of your labour you’ll be able to enjoy as spring tumbles into summer and beyond.
The first job on the “spring to-do list” is seed sowing. The most satisfying and exhilarating gardening job of them all in my opinion. The first round of seed sowing is usually done inside, either in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill. You can buy propagating equipment or recycle; using old egg boxes, newspaper and the cardboard innards of toilet rolls as pots and trays. Most of these can simply be transplanted straight outdoors as well because newspaper and cardboard biodegrades into the ground. Polythene sandwich bags are a substitute for propagators and if you need to increase the temperature for your seedlings, strategically placed sheets of tinfoil to trap and direct the sun’s rays are perfect.
Here are my suggestions for flowers and vegetables you can be sowing inside right now and are among my favourites: annual sweet peas, rudbeckia (try: ‘gloriosa daisies’), tomato ‘maskotka’ (grows into a small bush with sweet and succulent cherry tomatoes), basil, marigolds (African and French) and lupin.
Of course, not all seeds need to be sown inside, some can be scattered where they are to grow. Even some of the above can be sown outdoors later in the year. One of my favourite seeds to grow directly outside is Stocks Night Scented. The flowers open up in the evening summer sun to release a glorious scent (sow March to May). I’m also a big fan of sunflowers (hardy annuals, sow outdoors from March). My favourite is sunflower ‘teddy bear’. But this year I am also going to try sunflower ‘helios flame’ F1 hybrid, which pollinators will love and, as an added bonus, has edible flowers.
How about growing your own courgettes? The flower is also edible (as well as beautiful) and for the past few years I’ve been growing courgette ‘parador’ F1 hybrid – a nutty and scrumptious yellow variety which is very easy to cultivate (sow from mid-May straight outside). You can also plant, beetroot, broad beans, carrots, summer lettuce, peas, chitted potatoes and onion sets from March. I grow an onion called ‘red baron’ – equally tasty cooked or raw in salads.
With your seedlings grown inside, you’ll need to wait until late spring, or even early summer, to move these outdoors. Having got used to snug, indoor, heated conditions, they’ll need hardening off (given time to slowly adjust to the elements). For the job of planting seedlings out this year, I’m looking forward to using my new transplanting trowel from the recently launched National Trust’s garden and brushware collection designed and manufactured by Loughborough-based family business Charles Bentley & Son Ltd – all designed in the UK, using sealed timber with wood that’s Forestry Stewardship Council certified. I particularly like the measuring guide on the stainless steel trowel head itself.
Other jobs in the spring calendar are not quite so glamorous but equally essential. Winter has taken its toll and one job I like to get done early is cleaning the patio. By spring the slabs are green-stained, mud smeared and looking pretty shabby. I usually give a thorough sweep then use a hard bristled broom to scrub with some soapy water. Another tool in the National Trust’s Bentley range will be perfect for the job; their deck broom with wire bristles. It has a heavy duty scraper for removal of moss and dirt build up, and PVC bristles and steel bristles all designed for tough muck and debris. The double locking universal handle in the range is a great storage savvy idea and you can attach a selection of different brooms (even a weed brush) for various jobs.