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How to Plant a Spring Garden

Here we give advice on how to plant a spring garden. With spring almost upon us, the days are getting warmer and it is time to leave our winter hibernation and get back into our gardens! This is a month of

preparation and if like me you have been promising to finally start that vegetable garden, now read our helpful tips on how to plant a spring garden and get out there and dig that land.

Pruning

It's time to get out those secateurs and prune any shrubs, rose bushes and fruit trees. For rose bushes make sure that you cut off the dead heads and any diseased or broken stems. If the plant is quite bushy, you should cut back the stems to a bud which faces outwards and leave them at about half of the original length. Pruning is the way to encourage new growth and ensure that your trees and bushes look healthy, some bushes can be cut two thirds of the way back, but don't be over zealous.

Divide and Separate

Plants like snowdrops, which have flowered in the winter can now be dug up and separated if there are large clumps of them. You must ensure that they have finished flowering, but still have their green leaves. This is a great way to add more colour to your winter garden next year. Many of us have inherited a wealth of winter crocus and snowdrops from previous owners and given that most gardens are designed for more practical than aesthetic uses, they tend to be planted in random clumps with no thought to design. Be careful as you tease the bulbs apart to avoid any damage and be sure to replant them at the same depth as they were originally. Later in the month you can divide evergreen shrubs and hedges or plant new ones. As the soil becomes warmer, new roots will grow immediately.

Adding Fertiliser

You might not see your Bulgarian neighbour sprinkling bags of fertiliser over their fruit and nut trees, but this is more an issue of cost than need. If you have hedges and fruit trees sprinkle general purpose fertiliser around the base to ensure they remain healthy, then cover it with compost of decomposed leaves. The key minerals to include are potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus and you will be able to purchase good fertiliser from all DIY chains.

Alternatively ask local farmers for manure,the organic option,an alternative and cheaper. Depending on which farm animals manure you use each have different qualities, and require different application rates. Manure can be used from farm animals such as horses, cattle, pigs or sheep, chicken and turkey manures and rabbit manure. For instance sheep manure is high in nitrogen and potash, and pig manure is relatively low in both. Horse manure also contains lots of weed seeds, as horses do not digest seeds the way that cattle do. Chicken manure, even when well rotted, is very concentrated and should be used sparingly.

Paint Your Tree Trunks

Something we don't tend to do in the West is paint our tree trunks white! Yet this simple task will prevent deciduous fruit and nut trees from injuries caused by late frosts. If frost is allowed to penetrate the bark whilst the tree is in the early growth period plant pathogens like P. Syringae can enter and infect a healthy tree. Even if you painted your trees in autumn it is time to give them another fresh coat of matt whitewash paint (a 50/50 blend of paint and water) with a pinch of Funguran commonly known as copper oxychloride. The paint will reflect the sunlight so the bark does not become warm and cause cracks, which will let in the frost. Additionally crawling insects will be deterred from entering cracks in the bark.

How to plant a spring garden - Planting Seeds

Now is the time to fill old yoghurt pots with seedlings of veg like peppers, potatoes, cucumbers and aubergines and summer flowers. Most local shops are selling packets now but it is important to keep them well watered and indoors. Remember to put a stick into each seed tray with the name of the seedling and the day you planted it so that you can stick to the planting schedule on the seed packet. If your garden was sadly lacking in colour last year then now is the time to plant a good selection of summer flowering bulbs, but again you need to keep them in a green house or indoors.

There are some plants, which can be sown under cloches outdoors like broad beans, beetroots, Brussels sprouts, summer cabbages, leeks, lettuces, hardy peas and radishes.

Till the Land

If you have been promising yourself a vegetable garden then now is the time to get digging! Measure out an area in your garden and ensure that it is within easy reach of your garden tap. Dig the land over and pull out any old plants and weeds, then borrow a rotavator to make the soil finer. Bank up each row with soil to divide the planting areas and add some fertilizer. Lay old paving slabs in between to stop your shoes getting muddy when you come to water the area. Don't be over ambitious if it is your first attempt at a vegetable garden; they involve lots of work during the summer, when you might just want to laze round your pool.

Structuring Your Garden

Digging and lugging rocks has never been my idea of garden heaven, however if you structure your garden now you will reap the benefits very soon and will not have to tackle this chore again. Now is the time to add a rockery, path or gravel garden or to rotivate the land ready to sow a lawn. You will not however be able to add the finishing touches this month in terms of planting, but hard work now will mean a beautiful garden next month. You should also use this time to pressure wash all of your terraced areas, paths and steps. For more help on how to plant a spring garden read - An easier alternative -  a container garden