As Winter comes to a close and the days begin to warm up, now is the time to get out in the beautiful sunshine and start laying down plans for your Spring garden. Here’s our tips on how to prepare your garden now, giving you the best chance for a winning Spring and Summer veggie patch!
Preparing soil for planting Spring Vegetables
The first step is to remove any annual crops that won’t be continuing to provide for you during Spring. Collect seeds from any herbs or vegetables that have gone to seed and save them for next year. Cut any remaining stems from herbs and hang them to dry for use later. Then you can dig the remaining plant out and put them in your compost bin.
The next step is to remove any weeds, leaving you with clear soil that is ready to be improved. You can compost weeds only if you use a hot composting system. Otherwise, throw them in the bin to avoid them self-seeding and popping back up again in your garden next season.
How to improve the soil in your garden
Ensuring that your soil is well prepared for planting is going to give you the best chance for successful growing. That’s because the soil is what feeds your veggies! If your soil is prepared properly, it will also be more likely to retain moisture during the dryer months, or in the case of wetter soils, have improved drainage to stop plants from drowning. This will save you money and time on hotter days because your plants will be able to draw more water from the soil rather than you needing to water constantly and you’ll have less casualties. So the next step is to turn the soil over to aerate it, and add organic matter as needed.
Turning your soil
You can turn your soil using a good old fashioned pitchfork and a lot of elbow grease. If you’ve got a much bigger garden to tend to, we recommend bringing in the big guns and hiring our Red Roo Rotary Hoe. You can hire the Rotary Hoe from our Tamworth and Port Macquarie branches. READ MORE.
What’s your type?
Before you get started with adding things to your soil to improve it, you’re best to find out what kind of soil you’re dealing with, if you don’t already know.
Once you know the soil type, you will have a better idea of what organic matter you need to add in order to give your plants the best chance of surviving. Depending on your soil type, you might need to add compost, manure or other additives like soil wetters, or minerals like gypsum.
After the soil has been prepared appropriately and all the right food has been added, the next step is to get planting!
What to plant for Spring
FRUIT & VEGETABLES
What about fertiliser?
To give your Spring plants to best chance of a good start to life, fertilise them with a slow release food like chicken manure. You can also add a small amount of blood and bone to the soil to help with strong root development. Strong roots means that they will be able to reach down deeper to find water when they need it, making them more resilient to hot days and meaning less stress for the plants and less watering for you! Vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum will also benefit from a very light feed with lime which will help to boost their calcium levels.
Now it’s time to finish off your garden with a light layer of organic mulch to protect the plants over Spring and Summer. You can mulch with lots of different products, including Pea Straw, Sugar Cane Mulch or Straw. Mulching helps to stop the soil from drying out, keeps the soil warm and will break down over time to add more nutrients to your soil. You can also make your own Leaf Mould, as explained below!
Make your own Leaf Mould
Leaf mould is a free and easy way to add nutrients into your soil. It will also help to keep the soil moist as it will retain more moisture. Here’s how to do it:
- Collect any fallen dead leaves from your yard and your neighbours’ yards (best to ask for permission first!).
- You’ll need to mulch them up so that they break down faster in your garden. If you don’t have access to a mulcher, a great tip is to lay the leaves on your lawn and then mow over them, collecting them in the catcher.
- Once the leaves are broken into smaller pieces, place them in a black garbage bag with some holes punched in it.
- Leave them in a sunny spot in your garden and give them a good soak with water. Leave it to sit in the sun for 2 – 3 days minimum (the longer, the better) before using it.
You can use leaf mould as an additive in your compost bin, or you can just dig it straight into the soil when you’re preparing to plant your vegetables. You can also use it as a mulch on the surface of garden beds which will stop weeds from being able to grow, protect the roots of the plant and retain any moisture in the soil on those hotter Spring and Summer days.
Starting from scratch
If you’re starting your first veggie garden this Spring, now is the time to organise the beds and get them prepped and ready for planting. You have several options in terms of how to do this.
The first option is to dig straight into the ground, in which case, follow the steps above to prepare it properly for your vegetable plantings.
One of the most efficient ways to grow vegetables is to use a no-dig system, using raised garden beds. There is no need for soil – the beds are filled with layers of compost, fertilisers and mulch, creating a nutritious and moisture-rich environment for plants. Using a no-dig system means less weeding and watering and reduced need to bend down, so it’s good for those who are less mobile. You can build a no-dig garden bed from recycled materials like railway sleepers or pallets, or you can also buy pre-fabricated systems from your local hardware like the one pictured below.
If you’re transporting soil, mulch or compost for your garden, Coastal Hire has a range of box trailers as well as tipper truck which are available for hire and will make the job a lot easier for you. You can view the range on our website here.
That concludes our list of Spring Garden Preparation jobs. We hope you enjoy getting outside in the yard this weekend, enjoying some sunshine and preparing for a bumper Spring crop!