Now is a good time to get our vegetable beds prepared. Soil quality is the key factor in growing great produce so we need to be thinking about incorporating lots of organic matter and how best to manage weeds.
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What you have been doing with your vegetable beds through the winter. Did you keep them weed-free? Did you incorporate lots of organic matter? Have you left them open or had them covered?
Good practice would have been to weed them and then incorporate lots of quality organic matter (like compost or well rotted manure) at the end of the previous growing season. It is vital to to keep adding organic matter to our beds to replenish nutrients, create the correct habitat for essential soil organisms such as earthworms, bind soil particles and improve a soil’s capacity to retain water.
If you had sufficient organic matter you could have covered the beds with a thick layer (about 10cm (4in) deep). This will keep the light from getting to the weeds and hopefully kill off the annual weeds. You could also have used a further covering, such as cardboard. It takes a while to get rid of perennial weeds like Nettles and Docks just by starving them of light, but be patient, keep them mulched and concentrate on regular weeding and hoeing (if you stop weeds coming to seed you will be much better able to control them).
If you did all of this, you should be treated to some wonderfully fertile beds that you can start preparing for sowing. If you weren’t quite so well prepared, you can make the most of the time now to do that weeding and add your organic matter.
Now is the time for getting our gardens and allotments tidy, weed-free, and fertile. Very soon we make our final preparations, such as raking over to create a nice tilth, ready for spring sowing.