How is it so that the summer months seem to fly past yet the winter months seem to drag on and on and on? Well, at least we are nearly through the worst! Once gloomy January is over, the days will get lighter and longer and spring will soon grace us with its charming presence. We can’t wait!
Although the winter months are considerably quieter in the garden, there are plenty of preseason jobs to be completed, from organising, planning and cleaning up your outdoor space. Ultimately, if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail, and Garden Oasis would hate to see that!
1. Greenhouse prep
Admittedly it’s not the most glamorous of tasks but an essential task nonetheless. One of the most important greenhouse cleaning jobs is removing unwanted algae, leaves or moss from the glass; this will allow more light and heat to enter and create better growing conditions.
Secondly, ensure you thoroughly clean the gutters by removing unwanted materials. Please note - you should pay particular attention to the top of fall pipes; we suggest using a bendy coat hanger to reach inside and remove unwelcome debris.
There are other jobs to be getting on with, such as removing trapped dirt between windowpanes and vacuuming the floors, but the final job we want to emphasise is cleaning out the water tanks or butts. Stagnant water will produce algae, which can infect your plants. Drain and scrub the inside of your tank and then rinse out thoroughly. Next, refill your tank or butt and we’d suggest adding a water butt freshener; this should help keep algae to a minimum.
Depending on temperatures, it could be time to heat your greenhouse to protect your tender plants, so either invest in a good heating system or check your old one survived the frost!
2. Clear out the shed or garage
The new growing season will no doubt mean new equipment, and therefore you’ll need more storage. Sorting through 10 years worth of old garden junk may seem like a daunting task, but we can guarantee you’ll thank us for it later! As a result, your gardening will be more organised and logical, meaning you’re bound to have better results. Our advice – be ruthless. If you haven’t touched the broken lawnmower that you vowed to fix in 2014, take it to the tip!
3. Order your seeds and bulbs
First of all, take some time to draw a sketch of your garden layout and decide what you’ll be sowing and where you’ll be growing it. Some questions need to be asked – what is the best layout for my plants? How many different crops can I realistically grow in the space I have? When do I need to sow them?
Now that you know what you’ll be planting and when, it’s time to make a list of what you need to buy, starting with the seeds and bulbs themselves. It’s also a good idea to think about the other supplies you’ll need, such as fertilisers, raised beds and pots. When you’ve finalised your list, get ordering so you’re fully prepared for when the time comes.
4. Sowing indoors or under covers
Hurrah – some real gardening! Yes, that’s right, it’s time to start sowing certain seeds indoors and under covers.
- Sweet peas (under cover)
- Swiss chard (under cover)
- Leeks, onions, spinach and carrots (under cover)
- Parsley and coriander (under cover)
- Iceland poppies (inside)
- Hardy annuals (inside)
- Early crop tomatoes (greenhouse)
- Chit potato seeds (inside)
- Hardy annuals, such as dill and scabious (inside)
- Nerines (inside in pots)
- Lily bulbs (under cover in borders)
5. Replace broken fence panels
You might have felt the effects of Storm Aileen or Storm Eleanor this winter, as they tore through parts of the UK, causing lots of damage on their way. If your poor garden was damaged, it’s time to get repairing! One of the most common forms of damage is of course broken fence panels but luckily, we have a huge range to choose from here. The panels come in standard sizes so you’ll certainly find the right panel/s for your garden.
6. Prepare your raised beds
If you’re reusing your raised bed from last year, firstly check whether it needs any repairs. The extra weight from heavy rainfall during autumn and winter could have exerted pressure on the sides, causing them to split or change shape. You can find instructions on how to correct this here.
If you need an entirely new raised bed or if it’s your first time using one, you can find a selection of our raised beds here and instructions on how to build your own here. When your raised bed is set up, it’s time to start preparing it for growing. We would argue that getting the preparation right is the most important step in the entire growing process!
Key preparation points:
- If you’re reusing your raised bed from last year, be sure to remove the layer of weeds that will have sprouted
- Fill or top the beds up with soil
- Boost it with fertilizers or compost and spread over 1-2 inches thick
- Dig the compost in thoroughly
- Cover raised bed in order to warm it up and to prevent excess moisture drenching it, if we experience heavy rain
TIP: While you’re working on your raised beds, be careful not to step on the soil. One of the huge benefits of raised bed growing is that the light, fluffy soil is beautifully aerated. Ultimately, stepping on the soil could lead to compaction.
So, there are our top 6 preseason gardening tasks to be getting on with whilst we eagerly wait for spring’s arrival. Although some of these tasks might seem quite mundane, completing them will ensure a more successful 2018 growing season. Finally, look out for our next blog post, where we focus on the first tasks you need to do when spring does finally make its appearance!