Special attention to your soil will bring abundant rewards, says Janice Marriott.
At this time of year, when you're waiting for the right time to plant spring crops, the edible garden can look a bit patchy. But don't worry. A vegetable garden can't look symmetrical and orderly, with perfect rows of produce, year-round. When there is a space, after you've pulled out the last of a crop, give the soil a rest for a while.
I sprinkle the bare soil with some blood and bone before covering it with flattened cardboard boxes or newspaper. I then pile grass clippings and plant prunings on top and leave it. This stops weeds moving into the unused bed, prevents nutrients from leaching out of the soil during heavy rain and encourages worm growth. To restore the bed to productivity simply move what's left of the cardboard into the compost, and plant your new seedlings or seeds. The newly revealed soil will be loose and friable.
It's a good time to shape up those sage bushes, above, that did so well last year but are now woody and gnarled. Pull them out, chop the root balls into several pieces and replant as many as you want. Give the rest away to friends. Spring will see those old plants sprouting anew. Sometimes I wish we humans could resprout every spring, too.