Follow our Spring Checklist and try these tips for your edible spring garden to make the most out of the season.
Clean and sharpen tools
Wash all the dirt off your tools with warm soapy water. Once thoroughly clean, dry carefully. Fill a bucket with coarse sand and spray the sand with a product like Q20 or WD-40 lubricant. Spray each tool as well before sticking each one into the sand. The sand will keep the tools clean and rust-free.
The earlier you plant your strawberries the more fruit you will get. Plant in a sunny spot that gets late morning or afternoon sun for the best flavour. Prevent your strawberry plants from being waterlogged by making sure the soil has good drainage. To do this, plant in small mounds or in raised containers where you have more control over the soil. Mulch around each plant with straw to keep the soil moist and to keep the fruit off the soil. Remove the first flowers so that the plant builds up better growth for a better harvest later on. When the flowers appear, add a generous amount of potassium-rich fertiliser for fruiting.
Protect your seedlings from snails and slugs by using the various products on the market, or make your own by crushing eggshells and sprinkling them around your plants. Dry the eggshells before using by placing in a sunny spot, then place them in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until fine. The extra calcium is beneficial to the plants too.
Plant more basil for pesto
All varieties of basil are easy to grow. Plant in full sun, or morning sun if grown in containers. Plant in fertile, well-composted soil that drains well and water regularly, especially if growing in pots. Feed once a month for lush leaves and pinch off the growing tips of small plants to encourage bushy growth. Back-to-basics pesto 2 cups basil leaves ½ cup Parmesan, grated ½ cup olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced Salt and pepper ¼ cup pine nuts (or walnuts or almonds) Blend all the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. Serve with tomatoes and mozzarella salad or with pasta.
Spuds in time for Christmas
Place your seed potatoes on a tray in a sunny position for at least a month before planting. When the sprouts on the seed potatoes are 2 – 4cm long, plant out in the garden in a large plastic pot, or in a planter in a warm and sheltered position. Seed potatoes are available online from www.livingseeds.co.za.
Use your herbs to add flavour to your fried or baked potatoes. Chop up a selection of parsley, oregano and rosemary. Place on a baking tray and dry out for use later.
Grow herbs in bottles
Have your herbs at your fingertips and grow them in bottles. You need good drainage, so add a layer of gravel in the base of the jars. Top up with a growing medium comprising 1/3 palm peat and 2/3 potting soil. Plant the herbs in the jars and fill in with soil if necessary. Water sparingly so they do not sit in water. Hang up or place in an area with morning or afternoon sun.
Spring clean the veggie garden
Spring is the perfect time to spring clean and feed the veggie garden so that you are guaranteed the best harvests later in the season. Here are some spring cleaning tips:
- Trim damaged or dead branches from shrubs and fruit trees.
- Be generous with the compost and feed all the veggie beds.
- Check the mulch situation and change or refresh if necessary.
- Plant out seedlings of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans and brinjals.
- Refresh the herb garden with new plants in the garden or in pots.
- Check the watering system. Invest in a new hosepipe or automated system.
- Check for pests and diseases and act quickly before the growing season begins in earnest.