When January comes round, I quietly start getting excited for Spring. Yet, I always have to restrain myself, as there is no point in starting to grow anything just yet. As soon as February kicks in, however, the excitement is more palpable among us gardeners, and we start to sow in preparation for the growing season.
Now is the time to start preparing! Here is what to do during this time:
1. Start Collecting Seeds
If you haven’t already, start collecting seeds. Look for offers in magazines, I recently got hold of quite a few seeds by just perusing the magazine section of my local supermarket. Seed swaps are also fun, and you may discover varieties you hadn’t seen before. Alternatively, go the traditional way – neighbours! If you know they have a nice garden, or have a greenhouse, chances are they already have seeds or even seedlings on the go.
2. Prepare Your Tools
Ensure your tools and pots are ready to use. Wash pots with warm soapy water to get rid of any pests and bacteria that have made it their home, and to give the next plant you put in there their best chance. Tools must be sharpened; if they are a little worse for wear, it might be worth investing in new ones. I find secateurs in particular are best to just buy some generic ones and replace as and when.
3. Make a Planting Schedule
If you grow vegetables or annual plants, I recommend planning the sowing succession according to the month. It’s a great idea to also divide them into seeds that can be sowed directly, and those which need to be sowed under cover. I normally go through all my seeds, particularly the veg, and write a list of what needs planting ordered by month. You could also have a calendar in which you write what needs to be done every weekend.
4. Growing & Sowing
If you grow vegetables, you can now start growing onions, shallots, garlic, peppers, broad beens, herbs and snap peas. You can also start chitting potatoes, but not everyone does it. In terms of flowers, your bulbs and primulas that were planted at the beginning of Winter will be in the middle of flowering or about to flower, and you can now begin to sow sweet peas as well as cosmos, some sunflower varieties, marigold, carnations, zinnias, nigella and some poppy varieties.
5. Bigger Garden Items
If you want to find any bigger items to have in the garden or allotment such as a planter, a grow house, etc. you might want to begin planning when to get these, that you can include the cost in your budget. For example, this year I want to invest in a cold frame or grow house, and I know I should get one in the next couple of months if I want to grow things on before planting them out. These items do come up in second hand shops and websites, so keep an eye out! I managed to get hold of these last summer.
6. Soil & Maintenance
For those of you who have just started an allotment, it is crucial that you start digging over now. There will still be frosts and these will help breakdown the soil; you might want to look into getting some manure too. Cut down any overgrowth and it might be worth looking into pruning any berry bushes you have inherited.
7. Say Goodbye to Snails
Finally, if you find any snails that are hibernating, get rid of them! I am also finding baby slugs under my pots and I’m all too happy to say goodbye to them. My strawberries and I did not enjoy their company last summer!
I hope you have found this useful, and that you now agree that Spring can’t come soon enough! I’m tired of looking at the same scene day after day in my garden and now I’m ready for some colour.
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