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Mulching your garden in preparation for the gardening year ahead

Mulching your garden or allotment if the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged is a great way to get out in the garden and enjoy some of the warmer, sunnier days of February. I don’t do a great deal more in the garden until the weather warms up from March. Apart from sowing sweet peas and broad beans, plus planning for the year ahead and having a tidy - it’s more about mulching for me. Mulching has so many benefits including retaining moisture which helps to save water, it can keep weeds suppressed, protect plant roots and improve the soil but while all of that is something you can’t specifically see as such - it is a wonderful sight to see a garden bed newly mulched. It always looks so tidy! Generally done in autumn or early spring, if you need to mulch and it’s time dependent, I would recommend doing it whenever suits you between October to March.

For me it was time dependent. So, I’ve managed to mulch the whole plot in a matter of days, under a blue sky in the glorious winter sun. I love adding it on top of the soil knowing the nutrients will be taken down when it rains and the worms will incorporate the goodness down into the soil, improving the structure and later on feeding my plants so they thrive. I garden ‘no dig’ so there is no need to even incorporate it into the soil. Just let nature do what it does best.

There are numerous mulches that can be used including homemade garden compost, mushroom compost, plant based composts, wood chips, leaf molds and even straw or seaweed. It’s good to experiment and see what works well for you.

My Rhino Greenhouse is crying out for a good clean and my warm, soapy water, sponge and old toothbrush are at the ready. Before I start sowing seeds, it will have a thorough clean inside and outside to ensure nothing has overwintered inside ready to attack my plants. It will be sparkling clean in time for the growing season ahead. Don’t forget to cleans yours, you’ll be pleased you did later in the year when you are too busy sowing seeds.

Mostly, at this time of year I look back on previous years scrolling through photos of the allotment and planning what I will start sowing in just a matter of weeks. It’s exciting and I can’t wait for the year ahead, but also I appreciate this time to relax, plan and observe the winter weather.

Ellen Mary

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