The spring garden: Terra Viva

Record rainfall this July makes us all wonder if we’ll ever feel like venturing out into the garden again.

But sure enough, three days of sunshine and warmer, drier soil and suddenly our centuries-old inbuilt urge to plant kicks in, we imagine the summer colour and the fresh vegetables, and away we go.

Success is not just flowers and vegetables; the therapy of gardening, taking time out, and the satisfaction of growing/nurturing is a real lifesaver in these challenging times.

But first things first – check out the garden, make a list of what plants need moving, what gaps need filling with which plants, what needs feeding, and what needs trimming.

Stick the list on the fridge, and tick off the completed jobs – ticking lists is ever so satisfying.

The better the preparation the better the results so resist the urge to plant immediately and spend time on soil preparation which is the key to success.

Let’s start with the vegetable garden, which is so important as we see food prices rise.

Dig the soil over to a spade depth, and mix in sheep pellets, compost, and real blood and bone (double the strength of the regular product).

During the season, use a side dressing of a general plant food like nitrophoska blue, with an occasional dose of sheep pellets which are a fertiliser/soil conditioner/worm-encouraging combo.

Only grow what you like eating.

Potatoes can be sprouted now, broccoli is easy and quick, lettuces handle cooler conditions, beetroot is happy from September on, spinach and silver beet are reliable standbys, and pak choi prefers the moderate spring/autumn temperatures.

All herbs can be planted now but hold back on basil and tomatoes until the frost risk is over, unless you have a warm sheltered spot like a glasshouse.

A few smaller beds (raised is great) rather than one big area makes access simple and maintenance easy.

Roses are often the most popular plant in the flower garden and unbeatable with their six months of colour, scent, and long vase life.

The key to success with roses is water, regular feeding, plus a good spray regime. Summer perennials and annuals are the best way to reinforce garden colour schemes and the choice is huge with lavenders, gaura, petunias, lobelia, and dahlias in a huge range of colours.

Summer’s coming so grow your own sanctuary.

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