Penny’s gardening blog – preparation tips for spring

Spring is finally here and although it has been rather wet and cold, we are now approaching the busiest time of year in the garden. 

Feed your soil: The most important task in any garden, be it a vegetable garden, herb garden, ornamental, cutting or even a container garden, is to look after the soil. I am totally insistent on composting in all the gardens I work in, mostly for this very reason, but also as it provides an area to recycle waste from your garden in the form of your lawn clippings, weeds, leaves, some paper and cardboard too, plus kitchen waste such as veg and fruit peelings and puts it all to really good use. All this, if managed properly, will make great compost to feed your garden with and improve the structure and fertility of your soil.


I won’t bore you too much as I have already written a blog about composting (see here), but if you are keen to start composting, or want to improve your techniques this link will help you gain more knowledge. I have known Nicky Scott for about thirty years, around here he is renowned as being the ‘Devon Composting Guru.’ He is also an accomplished musician and I remember being very impressed when I noticed a large sticker on his guitar case promoting composting. This is my kinda guy!

Weeding: If you already have a compost heap, this is the time of year to empty it out and feed your soil with it. 


Digging compost out of the heap, ready to spread


Before spreading your compost, it is essential to thoroughly weed your beds, digging out any perennial weeds.

Dig between existing plants looking carefully for weeds, such as bindweed, buttercup, couch grass and nightmare of nightmare, the worst of all, in my eyes…. the dreaded ground elder. I have some appearing in various areas of my garden and am slightly obsessive about weeding it out. Once it gets a hold you are done for. Time to sell the house and move elsewhere!  I spent a couple of hours digging it out, lifting clumps of perennials and teasing it out. 

Becoming familiar with these weeds is a good idea so here are some pictures of just a couple of the worst. In my next blog I will add more:

Know your weeds!

Bindweed roots


Ground elder



Growing veg?

If you are growing veg this year you need to prepare the ground. Some of you have ordered our veg, herb or flower grow your own kits to kick start the season.  If you are still thinking about it, hurry, do not procrastinate and avoid disappointment as we have limited numbers. The veg box to grow starts being delivered on the 21st April, so now is the time to get busy.

Feeding the soil is key to your success in growing anything.  Weed your beds and apply compost from your heaps and for extra fertility, some well rotted organic farmyard manure. This is particularly important to growing veg and should be spread a few weeks before planting and sowing. Chicken pellets can also be used.

If you’d like to ask me any questions, comment here and I’ll get back to you.


In my next blog I’ll be sharing tips on how to divide perennial clumps and what to plant now for summer flowering, check back here or look out for news on our social media.

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4 responses to “Penny’s gardening blog – preparation tips for spring

  1. Thanks Penny, most enjoyable and informative!

  2. Hi Penny

    Is the idea of cheap but effective compost bins of interest?



    Required; 4 wooden pallets, a few 3 inch nails, claw hammer, help if you can get it.

    Measure with a pallet from the back of where you want your bin to be, mark a line there or place a batten. Stand two pallets on end from that line so that when you turn them they will be in position, lay third pallet across supported by its protruding ends, nail every top board edge to the vertical pallet blocks, big nails are best. Turn over; nail the fourth pallet at a slight angle with 2 nails at each end, leaving the heads protruding so you can draw these out when you want to empty the bin.

    TWO HOLER (you can leave the compost longer)

    Another 3 pallets and a saw. As before but saw off the protruding ends of one pallet and use that one as the middle upright. Another vertical and another pallet nailed on top.

    Turn over and nail the two front pallets as the one holer.



    OK, BEING PATIENT YOU NOW HAVE YOUR COMPOST what are you going to do with it.

    Plot the growth of supermarkets and plot the growth of the medical problems we are now suffering. Can you see any correlation? So why not grow your own organic food, without strenuous digging and be healthier.


    CREATE PLOTS ABOUT 5 FOOT WIDE AS LONG AS YOU LIKE-with paths all round. Use anything to form a raised edge about 6 inches high and spread your compost to the top, start with using a barrier at one end at the limit of your compost and move it as you get more compost. Modern chemo farming kills the worms and the bugs needed for vegetable growth so much of the soils on such farms can be sterile-plenty of stuff on the television lately on this topic. The soil in gardens can be good but you can get some worms to help it along, there are folks on the net and the worms are cheap. Clever things worms, they limit their population to that the food can support. Have a wormery for the kitchen waste, easy made from plastic boxes and a plasic tap for about £20, interesting to use, produces free worms and good liquid manure. Get organic seeds from your garden centre for whatever you want to grow, which if you start now could be your summer salads and some potatoes, and of course beans. Why not mix vegetables with the flowers in your borders; I saw this done on a large scale in the states where the growers sold the flowers and the veg.

    Talk to your friends and relatives, if you like group’s form one including cooking the produce or an American bring a plate supper.

    YOU can save money on entertainment, and if you want to dig-on the gym.


    Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2013 12:03:19 +0000 To:

  3. Hi penny, I’ve ordered a grow your own kit for the first time this year and planning to convert my children’s old sandpit into a veg patch. Do you recommend lining this and shall I mix my home-made compost (mainly kitchen waste and cardboard) with compost bought at garden centres, as I’ve heard you can’t use compost ‘undiluted’. Thanks, Johanna

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