Get Ready for Spring by Charlie Albone

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August is my favourite month of the year mainly because it is my birthday but also because you can start getting ready for Spring! Acting now will mean you can get new plants and vegetables into the garden as soon as September rolls around, maximising growth and yield for the whole season.

1. Adding new plants to your garden

I find getting out into the garden now and starting on a few jobs, only wets the appetite for wanting to do more gardening come Spring. I find myself looking at spots that need plants and raking my brains for new plants that I can find and get in the ground.

I also take a good look at what is not working or what might need moving. I plan and take mental notes that I can drag up when considering the plant in question in the future.

2. Getting on top of weeds and improving your soil

Getting on top of all the weeds in the garden must be done now or they will only get worse when the warm weather turns up. Hand pull those that have intermingled into your other plants and spray larger areas with Richgro Beat-A-Weed to knock them down safety and quickly. With the weeds gone, you should have some areas of bare earth that can do with an application of Richgro Moisture Plus Garden Compost. Dig this through to help build the soil fertility back up before planting. If you can’t dig through your compost as your planting is too dense, apply it like a thin layer of mulch around 25mm thick and let the worms drag it down into the ground for you.

For your veggie patch, a layer of Richgro Moisture Plus Blended Manure will not only improve soil structure but aid in water holding and nutrient holding capacity of the soil. Both these soil improving methods will make life for your new and existing plants much easier come Spring – an easy life where water and nutrients are readily available will mean bigger and better plants, flowers and vegetables.

3. Balancing out your soil

Adding in compost to both sandy and clay soils work to improve the soil structure. In sandy environments, it helps to bind the soil together holding onto water for longer, and in stable clay soils it helps to break it up by introducing soil-based wildlife such as worms and beetles. If you have an unstable clay soil, an application of Richgro Gypsum will help bind the soil and stop it from becoming rock-hard. If you have a very sandy soil or even a small sandy patch in your garden, you should try adding in Richgro Bentonite Natural Sand to Soil as this will transform your earth into a well-structured soil with its combination of rock minerals and clay particles helping to balance out all the sand.

4. Mulching after soil improvement

When digging through composts and manures to my garden beds and vegetable patch, I like to add in some Richgro Blood and Bone to increase the nutrient levels in the soil. I try not to do this just before a big rain event otherwise it will get washed through the soil. However, an application now helps new and existing roots take up nutrients exactly when they need them. Whenever you finish off soil improving, it is a good idea to mulch your garden beds, this will supress any new weed growth and help insulate the soil. I like to use something high in organic matter such as Richgro Pine Bark Mulch as it will no doubt combine with the soil when I do get around to planting. Being organic, it will improve the soil and add nutrients as it breaks down over time.

5. Jump start your vegetable patch

I also like to get a head start on my vegetable patch, sowing seeds on my Spring Sweet Peas, Basil, Tomatoes and Zucchini. I sow these seeds inside and place them next to a light window to get them to germinate, ready to be planted out in September.

If you can get a jump start on these veggies, you will find that they will crop for much longer and will be more prolific throughout the season and into summer.

6. Repotting your plants

My final job for August is to refresh my potted plants. For certain plants that do not suffer stem rot I simply top up the pot and water it in with a liquid feed – something suitable from the Black Marvel range. For those that are a bit pot bound or have dropped too far in the pot I remove the plant from the pot, taking care not to break it and give the plant a light root prune. If the roots are congested and the plant pot bound, I might trim the roots with a sharp saw.

When repotting, use a good quality potting mix such as Richgro Premium Seaweed Potting Mix and ensure good contact between the mix and the disturbed roots. Firm the mix around the root ball as best as possible and top dress with more mix and water in well to remove any air gaps down the sides of the plant. I also apply some granular Black Marvel to the top of the plant and water in well for prolonged feeding.

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