Birds are singing, the blossom is out, there are daffodils everywhere and we’ve seen some very welcome sunshine. With spring well and truly upon us, it’s time to get busy in the garden. But if you’re not sure where to start, here’s a list of 5 spring gardening projects to help you get growing this Easter holiday. They’re suitable for gardens of all shapes and sizes, including patios and balconies and they’re also family-friendly, helping to get everyone outside and making the most of any fine weather we may have over the next couple of weeks.
If you’ve been planning to make a new raised bed or patio planter and haven’t got around to it yet, then now is a perfect time. Get hold of some untreated wood, old scaffold boards are perfect but you can also repurpose wood from reclaimed pallets, shelving units and even old bed slats. Just make sure that any wood you use is untreated to avoid chemicals leaching into the soil and remember the thicker the wood, the longer it will last.
If you’re building a raised-bed on top of an existing lawn, providing there are no rhizomatous weeds like couch grass and bindweed, you can avoid doing any digging. Simply construct the frame on top of the grass, put down a single layer of cardboard as the bottom layer and then fill the bed with a mixture of topsoil and compost. If you're building a raised bed on concrete, consider adding some wire mesh and durable landscape cloth to the bottom of the bed to help with drainage.
Growing a patch of wildflowers will help feed bees and other important pollinators whilst brightening up your garden with their delicate rainbow colours. You can grow wildflowers in an existing border, in upcycled containers, or you can remove the turf from a section of your lawn and create an interestingly-shaped wildflower bed. (Your imagination is your limit here!). Just make sure that your chosen area will receive lots of sunshine. The Growwild website has lots of information on choosing seeds, preparing the site and looking after your wildflower patch. And for more ideas on how to help bees, check out our article on creating a bee-friendly garden.
If you’ve been sprouting your potatoes indoors, they’ll likely be ready to plant out over the Easter holiday. Growing potatoes in a bucket is a simple way to get a good crop of potatoes. It’s perfect for those growing in small spaces but even if you normally grow potatoes in the open ground, saving a couple of tubers to grow in buckets is a fun and educational project for all the family. An old plastic trug, large pot or bucket and even an empty compost bag can all be used. Start by drilling a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Then add some soil or compost to the bottom of the bucket, to a depth of about 15-20cm. Next, add your sprouted seed potato - no more than 2 potatoes per pot - and cover them with another 15cm layer of compost.
Water well and put your bucket in a warm, sunny spot. When the tops of the potatoes start to poke through the compost, add another layer of compost to cover them up again. Keep adding more compost every time they pop up until the bucket is full to the top. Keep the plants watered over the summer and when they’re ready to harvest, simply tip out the bucket and count how many potatoes you’ve got! For more ideas on container growing, check-out our article on how to grow a container vegetable garden.
Perfectly ripe, bright red strawberries picked fresh from the garden are one of the summer’s best delicacies. That’s if you can get to them before the kids do! Strawberry plants are simple to grow and do great in containers on a sunny patio or balcony. They can be grown in hanging baskets, window boxes, terracotta pots, multi-level planters and any number of upcycled containers. From reclaimed animal troughs to old wheelbarrows there’s a whole host of repurposing possibilities. Place containers in a sunny part of the garden, keep them well watered and you should have a lovely crop by summer. If necessary, keep developing fruits lifted off of the soil by tucking in some straw underneath them.
For about the same price as a pot of herbs from the supermarket, you can buy a packet of good quality seeds that will grow an abundance of leaves to harvest, way more than the slim pickings you get from a supermarket pot! Whatever the size of your growing space, herbs are easily accommodated. You can plant them in the open ground, in patio pots or on a sunny windowsill. Grow whatever you enjoy eating and cooking with. Most herbs can be sown outside in April, including chives, coriander, dill, fennel, oregano and parsley. The exception is basil, a tender herb that won’t tolerate frost at all and is best either grown indoors or in pots that are put outside in the summer. Basil is an excellent companion plant to grow alongside your tomatoes. They both like warmth and plenty of water and basil can even help keep whitefly off your tomatoes. Of course, they go great together in the kitchen too.
Whatever growing adventures you get up to over Easter, don’t forget to also sit back on your garden chair, admire your hard work and soak in the sights and sounds of spring. Happy gardening!