Give Your Garden a Head Start - Take Action Now!

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Winter vegetable garden

Imagine if when spring arrived everything was already beautifully in place for you to enjoy a head start on the growing season. It’s a wonderful thought! Read on our watch our video to discover the essential tasks that will put your garden in the best possible position for the impending spring. There’s lots to do, but I’m genuinely excited to get on with it. Come on, let’s get started!

Garden Tidy-Up

It won’t be long before your garden beds come alive with new growth. It’s a thrilling prospect, but first you need to get them ready with a spot of general weeding and soil prep.

Winter is a really great time of year to get on and weed. With growth pretty much paused for a few months it gives us the chance to get ahead, particularly when it comes to those more persistent perennial weeds. Make efforts to tease out perennial weed roots as thoroughly as you can to avoid leaving bits of root that could regrow in the soil. This will save so much time weeding during the busy growing season!

This is a good time to mulch any exposed soil, including around fruit bushes, with organic matter like compost or composted bark. Spread it at an inch (2cm) deep or more, keeping clear of the main stems of woody plants to avoid rotting.

Top up any paths that have been mulched with, for instance, wood chips, to keep them clean underfoot.

Ornamental borders will need attention soon, but it’s a good idea to leave this until late winter so that hibernating bugs aren’t disturbed – they love to hide right down in the old stems or even inside hollow standing stems.

Get that greenhouse glass sparkling to let in as much sunlight as possible

Greenhouse Spring Clean

If you have a greenhouse, then now’s the time give it a thorough clean before things get busy. Procrastination is no one’s friend!

At the very least, give the windows a good wash and have a general tidy up, but for better results give it a deep clean. Remove everything from the greenhouse: staging, potting benches, old pots, bags, plant protection, tools and, of course, plants – the lot! Choose a relatively mild day to do this, so as not to shock overwintering plants too much.

If you have borders in the greenhouse, weed them and rake up any plant debris. Brush down all interior surfaces then blast clean with a hosepipe. Be sure to get into every nook, cranny, and corner, working from the top of the structure to the bottom. Remove any algae, scrubbing with a brush if needed.

Once everything is sparkling clean, turn your attention to everything you took out of the greenhouse. Clean it of unwanted materials and detritus, and brush and hose down everything that’s going back. That includes any staging or potting benches, including the undersides. We want a fresh, clean start!

A winter clean is also an essential job for any plant house, cold frame, or other forms of permanent or semi-permanent cold protection.

Wash and organize your pots so they're clean and ready to use when you need them

Organize Tools and Equipment

When the main growing season arrives you’ll need all your equipment to be in good condition and ready to use, which is why it’s so important to sort out your tool store and accessories right now, before things get busy.

Clean and sharpen your tools, and if you don’t already have a tool rack, it’s worth making one to keep things tidy.

Get your propagation station ready for the start of the imminent sowing season. Make sure you have everything you need, for instance clean pots or plug trays, labels, propagator lids, a dibber, potting soil, and so on. Rather than buy labels, why not use scissors to cut some from old yogurt pots? I find these make great labels. You can write on them in pencil or permanent marker, depending on how long you want the writing to remain.

Check you have all the essentials you’ll need for the busy months ahead. Take bamboo canes for supporting climbing crops, for example. They’re easy to get hold of now, but garden centers sometimes run out later in spring when everyone else realizes they don’t have enough. Be smart and get one step ahead of the crowd!

Save time during the growing season by organizing your seed packets now

Sort Out Seeds

Sort out your seeds so you can work out what you’ve run out of and what has gone out of date, so you know what you need to buy. It’s a good idea to organise your seed packets by month of sowing, starting with those to be sown within the next few weeks.

For any seed packets that are slightly past their sow-by dates, you can do a seed germination test to make sure they are still viable – check our our article on carrying out a seed germination test for more on this. Doing this means you won’t necessarily have to discard old seeds and buy more if they’re still good.

Finally – make the first sowings of the season! Onions are particularly suited to very early sowings, or you can sow salads under grow lights.

It feels so empowering to have everything lined up and ready for the new growing season. I feel ready to tackle it now! How about you? Are you primed for spring? Let me know in the comments below.

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