Seasonal tips and topics
Spring is a great time to get out in the freshening air and prepare your garden, some main tasks may include.
Start seeds of vegetables and annuals indoors 6-8 weeks before you plan to plant out. Take your lead from the weather forecast. Once soil temperature reach 40F or 4C, crops such as greens, radishes and peas can be directly sown. Wait until soil temperature warms to 50 F or 10C to plant cabbage, onions and Swiss chard. Summer vegetables can be sown in late spring.
Prune shrubs and vines
In February, depending on the weather. Roses can have their second prune. This is the hard prune that will set their flowering height for the coming season. Some shrubs and perennial vines can also be pruned. Remove dead branches and shape plants once new growth appears. Research proper pruning techniques and timing for each variety and hold off on pruning spring bloomers until after they flower.
Prepare ornamental beds
If not done so already. Mulch beds and boarders with peat free compost or manure which will add slow-release nutrients, suppress weeds and conserve water during warm summer months. There is little point adding extra nutrient products, until plants are going.
Once new growth appears, it is a good time to divide perennials. Transfer extra clumps into bare spots or give them away to friends. If you belong to a neighbourhood gardening group or club, organise a plant swap. It is a great way to try out new plants for free!
Dig-in any leaves or left over mulch. If using the no dig method, simply rake the bed level. To avoid compaction, wait until soil has dried out sufficiently before tilling. If soil crumbles when you try to make a ball, then it is time to get to work. Add amendments such as aged compost, manure and trace minerals (if needed) before planting early crops of lettuce, radishes, kale, peas and onions. Protect young plants from late frosts with a cloche or cold frame.
Place early season annuals such as Pansies and Ranunculus around bulbs or in containers for an extra splash of colour. Now is the time to plant summer bulbs including lilies and Dahlias. Once all danger of frost is past, it is safe to plant warm-season annuals such as Petunias and Marigolds.
Make a “to do” list of projects to tackle, such as building a pathway or wall, staining the deck, or installing a new water feature.
Clean and Prep
If you did not do so last Autumn, scrape excess dirt off tools, wash in soapy water and allow to dry thoroughly. Coat metal parts with oil to prevent rust and sharpen pruners and loppers. Power wash decks and patios, then wipe down stored patio furniture and set it outside for the season. Scrub out empty containers and fill with fresh potting soil in preparation for planting.
Clean Water Features
Remove dirt and debris from water features and clean or replace filters. Turn on pumps and make sure water is circulating properly. For natural water gardens such as ponds or bogs, add beneficial plants or apply other algae control methods to maintain a healthy ecosystem.
Birds and other wildlife help control pests, balance the ecosystem and add ambience. Install nesting boxes with the proper dimensions and in the right spot to attract birds. Provide a consistent, clean water source. Plant natives that offer food sources of nectar, seeds and berries, and make sure there are trees and hedging for nesting habitat and shelter.