Time to improve the soil for an abundant harvest

Dahlias - one of the boldest plants you can grow .

GARDENING: Brian Kidd is planning for summer with dahlias

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Given that February is often the coldest winter month, despite spring being around the corner, there are certainly jobs to be done in preparation for the year ahead.

One thing I do want to investigate is how to improve the soil for the so-called ‘abundant harvest’ that I hanker after.

My plan is to find a source of well-rotted horse manure and dig it in to the beds, around half a wheelbarrow-full per square metre.

Then I’ll sprinkle a generous handful of general organic fertiliser, such as blood, bone and fishmeal, per square metre.

The organic matter will improve the soil structure as will the back-breaking digging that is required to work it in. As it breaks down it releases small amounts of nutrients.

Using manure is much cheaper than the ‘soil improvers’ that you can buy at garden centres.

I should probably have done this earlier, but I am hoping that if I do it now I’ll be rewarded with this elusive ‘abundant harvest’.

This weekend I’ll also be stepping into the greenhouse to assess the damage caused by snow, rain and high winds.

Our greenhouse is a simple structure with a tough plastic cover, but it has suffered somewhat this winter.

Inside, I expect to find the sad skeletons of last year’s tomatoes, cucumbers and melons, a ghostly reminder of their failure to produce, well, anything.

These need to be cleared and the pots washed in readiness for when the real fun begins – planting!