It’s time to spring clean your garden! Summer is a busy time for the calendar and the garden, so getting organised in spring will help you enjoy (and deal with) the bounty come February. Need a garden clean up to get things in shipshape for summer?
Spring clean your garden with our top 10 tips…
1. Get your water sorted before you spring clean your garden
In most parts of Australia the biggest threat to summer gardens is water – a lack of it in temperate and subtropical climes, or a deluge if you’re in the tropics. Before the wet and heat really kicks in come November, now is the time to get your water situation sorted. Planning for drainage and capture if you’re expecting the big wet, or ensuring pumps, tanks and watering systems are ready to go if a big dry is coming your way are essential if summer garden success is your goal.
2. Organise your seeds
Just like we spring clean our homes, decluttering your seed collection is a great ritual for spring. Pull out packets that are heading out of date and get them ready for sowing or regifting. Riffling through your seeds will set you to dreaming about summer harvests and keep your gardening mojo high. It will also remind you of which seeds you need to get your hands on for summer, and which you have plenty of before you get your hands on a tempting seed catalogue!
3. Plan your harvests
Back in issue 6 we featured a simple yet effective method for planning your garden from seed sowing to harvest. Using this planner is a great way to get yourself set for summer. If you nab yourself a Pip Kitchen Garden Calendar you can plan your silly season social life and your garden at the same time!
4. Weed, before it’s too late
We all know weeds are just a plant in the wrong place… but some times these guys get really pumping in springtime! As the weather warms up you may notice your veggie patch spilling over with chickweed, grasses, fat hen, mallows, dandelions and more. Nip weeds in the bud (literally) and you’ll save yourself a lot of work in the summer heat, ripping out full grown weeds that have gone gangbusters where you planned your pumpkin patch. You’ll also stop them setting seeds and starting the whole cycle again. And it’s not all work for no reward. Use and value these wonderful resources – weeds have a multitude of uses, so many you could really call it “harvesting” rather than weeding.
5. Clean up winter crops
All good things must end, and now is the time to say goodbye to those plants that have reached their harvesting potential or are about to set seeds. Setting seeds is an energy intensive time for plants, meaning they use more soil nutrients. So unless you really want to save seeds or provide homes for beneficial insects or food for bees, it’s time to spring clean your garden of winter crops at the end of their productive lives, like brassicas and ripe alliums before they set seeds. Peas and broad beans are also susceptible to fungal diseases as the weather warms up, so keep an eye on this. Removing these plants will also help you to break the cycle of garden pests that may be taking hold in the warming weather like cabbage moth and aphids.
6. Build up your compost stash
Most stars of the summer veggie patch are hungry feeders (tomato, eggplant, capsicum, pumpkin, zucchini, corn… we’re looking at you!) A garden clean up of your winter crops will also provide you with plenty of material for a nice big hot compost, so get ready to make your own homegrown fertiliser to feed those summer veg.
7. Feed your perennials
It’s not only summer annuals who’ll need a feed this time of year. Perennials like rhubarb, artichokes, strawberries, vines, berry canes and summer fruiting trees all need good soil food to set fruit, so make sure they are well fertilised before they begin fruiting.
8. Get your stakes ready
Staking plants early means less disruption to root systems and provides a ready framework for plants as they grow. Tomato vines and climbing beans are two summer heroes that need good staking, so setting up these systems as you sow in late spring is important.
9. Spring clean your mulch
Summer heat can make mulching important in many parts of Australia, but spring is a good time to clear up any mulch that has been hanging around and providing habitat for pests too. Slugs and slaters love mulch, so if any have been overwintering in your mulch stash you can enlist the help of your local chook squad to give it a refresh before recycling it for summer use.
10. Prep for preserving
Done everything else on our list to spring clean your garden? Well, it’s not time to sit back and smell the roses! Get a head start on summer preserving by dusting off your dehydrator or tinkering with your tomato press. Now is also the time to put “fowlers vacola” on your Christmas list or start saving for a steam juicer.