I hate to admit that over the past week, when I drive past an almond tree or a Prunus tree smothered with blossoms I feel mixed emotions – joy and dread. Joy at the unbelievable breath taking beauty of Nature – never get tired of this! And dread, that spring is nearly here and that list of jobs I had planned for winter is not yet finished. Aaargh.
Here is what is still on my list and I would urge that if some of yours are the same, you get cracking!
Plant bare rooted roses, trees and vines
Finish planting bare rooted tree, roses and vine purchases, and purchase anything you still need. Bare rooted plants are great value and easy to handle, but the range is running out fast, as is the time to get them planted. They need to go in by the end of August at the latest, but really, the sooner you can, the better. If you know what you need and can find it, there are some great bargains to be had at the end of the season. I still have one bare rooted fruit tree which I am not yet ready to plant, so I need to pot it up for a few months. Like all bare rooted plants, once potted or planted, it is essential that you prune them hard to compensate for their root loss at the time of digging.
Plant out anything which is sitting around in a pot
While I aim to get everything in my nursery section at home planted, usually there are a few plants I haven’t yet found a home for., Or otherwise the area where I want to plant them isn’t yet ready. Whether they are plant purchases or new plants you propagated, rather than leave these to be planted in spring, when the 30 plus degree weather can be upon us from September, get them in the ground now so that their roots can start getting settled in. Use seaweed-based plant tonics to help all new planting overcome transplant shock and develop a strong healthy root system.
Finish pruning the roses
Ok so they really should have been pruned in July, but they weren’t so I am doing it now. More than half are done but there’s still more to do. It won’t matter that I am running late, but flowering might simply be delayed.
Harvest my root crops like Jerusalem artichokes, yacon and horseradish
If I harvest the whole crop, then I can replant what I don’t want for next year……………. although the truth with Jerusalem artichokes and horseradish is that they are quite invasive and once you have them, you probably have them for life. In hindsight I should have planted the artichokes something contained like a bathtub as that is still a big area for them to grow. I do love this vegie and you can read about how good it is in this post. Yacon is well behaved in a wicking bed so that’s not a problem. Learn more here. Knowing how horseradish can misbehave I did have it in an old copper pot; however it exceeded my expectations and has gone through the bottom (I know I should have known better… but it was only a tiny hole!?) and taken over half of the path. Haven’t been using it enough in the kitchen so I am about to investigate other uses for it!?
Prepare the beds where I plan to plant tomatoes and other summer vegies later in spring
I know we don’t even think of planting tomatoes out into the soil in cooler areas of the Hills till late October or even early November, however, now is the time to prepare the beds by digging in lots of organic matter in the form of compost, aged manure and pelletised organic fertiliser. Whenever I get a space in my vegie patch at this time of year, as one crop of winter vegies is harvested, I find it hard to resist the temptation to plant more of what I already have growing. Instead I should really leave these beds free, to improve their soil and let them brew for a couple of months. I shall try and control myself!?
Now is the time to feed your whole garden with organic fertiliser. I have the bags placed all around my garden waiting to be spread, so now I just have to do it. I try and do it when the rains can wash it in for me and being organic, they will take a month or so to start to be available to the plants, perfect for as the ground warms up.
Give the evergreen bones of my garden a prune before they start their new spring growth. Whether its hedges of carob or Elaeagnus x ebbingei, balls of teucrium or lavender hedges, these all need to be given some shape so that their spring growth is not wasted. When I run behind and prune I end up cutting this new growth off, which is a waste.
Get the weeds under control and top up the mulch. The weeds are only a problem where the mulch has worn thin and needs to be topped up, but I have been meaning to do this since autumn!?
So, if you are a bit behind in the garden as we head into spring, you are not alone. Happy gardening!