Posted by Gerty the Garden Gnome, on February 21, 2022.
It’s time for gardeners to dust off their seed packets, find their gardening gloves and head back outside. Often gardeners close the gate to their garden when chilly winter comes around, so now that the ground is warming up and the sun is starting to shine for a little longer each day, we need to get back out into our gardens. Spring means it’s time to bring out Gerty and garth, too – they’re no longer at risk of freezing!
Differences in UK gardens in Spring compared with Winter
As the leaves began to change to beautiful bronze and auburn last Autumn, hopefully, you covered over your raised beds and protected any plants from frost. In many parts of the world, it’s challenging to sow and grow anything during the Winter, even with a greenhouse! The daylight is too short, so plants don’t get enough light to grow strong, and the chilly temperatures can freeze tender plants.
You can overwinter perennials and grow ‘hardy’ (cold tolerant) plants throughout the winter, such as Sweet Peas, Carrots, Garlic, Onions and Spinach. But, tender crops and plants such as Orange, Lemon and Olive plants will need to be brought inside your lovely cosy home or covered in layers of fleece over the winter.
In Spring, the days gradually get longer and warmer, so we can start uncovering our raised beds and sow tiny seeds again. Be wary in early Spring though, and calculate frost dates (shown by a quick google search) for your area.
What To Plant In Early Spring
Spring is usually a gardeners favourite time of year; there is no better feeling than being able to get out into the garden after a long winter. Tucking a tiny seed and nurturing it to its first crop is a rewarding process and is suitable for your mental health!
However, there is still a risk of frost in some areas in early spring, and the ground may still be damp. But, there are a few ‘hardy’ vegetables you can sow.
Asparagus – A perennial, you can plant it once and enjoy harvests for many years to come. Plant one-year-old crowns 4 – 6 weeks before the last frost date. You can also plant seeds, but seedlings will need an extra year to establish.
Lettuce (frost-tolerant variety) – Romaine and butterhead are the most cold-tolerant varieties. It’s a good idea to sow for a continuous crop every few weeks. In the Spring, there are less pests around which will munch on lettuce, so it’s a great time to grow!
Peas – Best sown in between the weather change (late March, early April for the UK) Use a trellis to support the climbing vines and make harvesting more manageable. To extend your harvest, you can make additional plantings in early May or plant varieties with different maturity rates.
Spinach – Spinach must be grown in cold weather to prevent bolting. Spinach grows exceptionally quickly, sow every few weeks like lettuce to enjoy a continuous crop of these tasty greens.
Broad Beans – These climbing giants can be sown as early as February indoors. Using old toilet roll tubes work great. Plant them out as soon as spring arrives and place them next to a trellis or bamboo canes to have climbing support.
Time To Tidy
Clean-up any remaining leaves or dead plants, bushes or trees before getting excited with sowing new plants. It’s good practice to do the tedious task of weeding before sowing any new plants. There may be old leaves or dead plants in your garden bed and surrounding garden area, too, clear these into a pile for compost or provide a perfect little hiding area for wildlife.
Winter is the ideal time to prune trees, but if you forgot, don’t worry! There is a general rule to avoid trimming more than 10% of the tree in spring. Pruning too much of the tree increases the tree’s risk of developing a pest infestation or disease. It’s best to prune spring-flowering trees before their flowers buds bloom. Examples include magnolia, lilac, dogwood, flowering cherry, plum, crabapple, and apricot.
It’s so important to encourage good bugs and insects into your garden. You may think insects are destructive after having your raised beds munched away by Slugs & Snails, but lots of insects are necessary for the survival of your garden!
To encourage hedgehogs, build a tiny house for them to hide away from predators. There are lots of ready-made places you can buy or make a little structure from wood with your DIY skills. Check piles of leaves, twigs and hedges before cutting or moving.
Encourage Bees, Butterflies and other helpful pollinators, by using organic pesticides and planting wildflowers. ‘Shake and sow’ boxes of wildflower seeds are relatively accessible to buy, easy to use and inexpensive. Not only will you attract lots of beautiful insects, you will grow a stunning patch of flowers too!
Harden Off Your Indoor Plants
Spring is the time to bring your tender indoor plants out of their cosy indoor hibernation. But, you need to ease them back into outdoor life gently! This process is called ‘hardening off’. After being indoors for so many months, protected from all weathers and wind, plants need to climatise to outdoor conditions. To do this, take them outside during the day and bring them back inside at night. It will vary greatly on the temperature, but continue this process for around 10-14 days. 7 days if they live in the greenhouse.