Wednesday 16th March 2022
The evenings are getting lighter, and the bulbs are starting to bloom which means spring must be on its way! It also means it’s time for a garden update from our Head Gardener, Sarah Mead…
People often ask which is my favourite time of year in the Yeo Valley Organic Garden.
Early spring has got to be up there in terms of the anticipation of reopening the garden and welcoming visitors back after a winter of preparation, reparation and consolidation.
This year is a first for us in so far as we opened for snowdrops in February and will be opening for the Hardy Plant Society in March. We normally hold off opening until the end of April, always having an NGS garden day to herald the start of our season.
So, what has this meant for us here at Yeo Valley Organic Garden? I was a little apprehensive about opening as part of the Shepton Mallet snowdrop festival in February as, whilst we have a lot of snowdrops running through the woodland walk, we are certainly not a garden for galanthophiles. However, the sun came out, the air was chill, and we were sold out in record time. It was obvious talking to our visitors that people were happy to get outside, look around the garden at an unusual time of year and of course, have tea and cake!
There is still a lot of work to be done to get us show ready for our proper opening in April.
A stitch in time saves 900
If the weather is decent there is no better time to get on top of your weeds, especially bitter cress – here at YOG it’s coming up to flower already. A bit of time weeding now will give you a head start once the weather warms up. Once you have weeded, if the soil is moist from recent rainfall, it is the perfect time to mulch, mulch, mulch! We are manic mulchers here at YOG – mulching represses weeds, locks in moisture and carbon, and improves soil structure.
Here at YOG we adopt a no dig approach to mulching, meaning no less than 5cm thickness spread over the soil and around any emerging plants. We leave it well alone and the worms to do the work – an absolute win win!
I’ve talked before about how we feed our birds throughout the winter in order to sustain them, encouraging them to then predate on pests over late spring and summer. To that end, we are still feeding currently but will have stopped, removed the feeders and given them a good scrub, at the end of the month.
Whilst on the subject of scrubbing, spring cleaning can be applied to your garden also. Now is the time to be gathering any remaining fallen leaves, adding them to the leaf mold store you made in the autumn! If left on the ground, they make a great hiding place for emerging slugs and snails.
Also, now is the time to check your mower, hedge trimmers and chainsaws for lubrication and sharpness. Any cutting device needs regular maintenance and sharpening to avoid snagging the material you are attempting to cut.
Freebies – something for nothing
At YOG we have extensive willows and cornus planted in the yurt meadow. The orange stems from the willow and the carmine stems of the cornus make for a blazing bonfire affect over the winter, but now as the buds begin to break with the warmer weather, is the time to take drastic action. In order to keep the stems vibrant they must be pruned back hard to within a couple of cm’s of the main stem. This is a great job for a day when you are not in the best of moods. The good news is all these stems can produce more plants. All you have to do is stick the cut end into some soil preferably somewhere out of the way and when you go back a year later they will have taken.
We like to walk around the garden now making notes on the early spring bulbs as they emerge, ready for ordering this autumn. Doing this now when you can see your spring bulbs is far better than trying to remember in high summer. Even if you just have a few minutes to take pictures of the things in your garden that you like and want to increase, or equally dislike and want to remove, will be well worth it.
Make up on
Because we are open three days a week from the end of April we need to make sure we are looking our best. From checking all our pavers for trip hazards, to sampling new recipes for our cakes, there is plenty to do in readiness for opening the gates. We like to offer something new to our visitors every year and to that end we are busy planting, lifting, dividing and re planting across the garden.
We’re very much looking forward to seeing you all, click here to find out more about visiting us. See you soon!