With warmer weather just around the corner, you’re likely starting to think about how you’re going to get your garden ready for spring. When it comes to growing a healthy, beautiful garden, it’s important to be prepared. Make sure you’re ready for the growing season with these tips.
Clean and Declutter
The first thing you’ll want to do to get your garden ready for spring is clean up around your garden and remove any debris that may have built up over the winter. A build-up of debris can lead to mold or rot. A nice pile of old plants, leaves and branches can also make a perfect nest for rodents. You’ll want to clean up before ground complete thaws and plants start trying to grow.
Clean Your Tools
Prepping your garden tools is another way to get ready for spring. This means cleaning them off and inspecting them to ensure they’re still in good working order and haven’t rusted during the winter, sharpening any shears that may be dull and oiling tools as needed.
Plan Your Garden
Maybe you’ve been planting the same bulbs for years and know exactly what you want, or perhaps you enjoy experimenting and look forward to trying something new each year. Either way, you should spend some time planning what you want in your garden so you know when to plant. Browse catalogs, read magazines and scan Pinterest for ideas.
Test Your Soil
Even seasoned gardeners know the importance of occasionally testing your soil. You can either purchase a DIY kit or have a trained professional do the test for you. Testing your soil ensures that there are no insect problems. The results of the test can even help you make decisions about prepping and seeding your garden.
You need to prepare your soil to keep your plants healthy and thriving. The best thing you can do in the soil preparation process is to reach the perfect mixture of sand, silt and clay. Preferably there would be 40% sand, 40% silt and 20% clay.
There are several tests used by experienced gardeners to tell whether the soil has a good composition. First, you can compress it in your hand. If it doesn’t hold its shape and crumbles without any outside force, your sand ratio is probably a little high. If you poke the compressed ball with your finger and it doesn’t fall apart easily, your soil contains too much clay.
Here in Lancaster, PA, we find that most homeowners have a large amount of clay in their soil.
If you’re still not sure about the content of your soil, you can separate each ingredient by using this simple method. Put a cup or two of dirt into a jar of water. Shake the water up until the soil is suspended, then let it set until you see it separate into 3 separate layers. The top layer is clay, the next is silt, and on the bottom is sand. You should be able to judge the presence of each component within your dirt, and act accordingly.
Prepare Your Soil
After you’ve analyzed the content of your soil, if you decide that it is low on a certain ingredient then you should definitely do something to fix it. If dealing with too much silt or sand, it’s best to add some peat moss or compost. If you’ve got too much clay, add a mixture of peat moss and sand. The peat moss, when moistens, helps for the new ingredient to infiltrate the mixture better. If you can’t seem to manage to attain a proper mixture, just head down to your local gardening store. You should be able to find some kind of product to aid you.
The water content of the soil is another important thing to consider when getting your garden ready for spring. If your garden is at the bottom of an incline, it is most likely going to absorb too much water and drown out the plants. If this is the case, you should probably elevate your garden a few inches (4 or 5) over the rest of the ground. This will allow for more drainage and less saturation.
Adding nutrients to your soil is also a vital part of the process, as most suburban soils have little to no nutrients already in them naturally. One to two weeks prior to planting, you should add a good amount of fertilizer to your garden. Mix it in really well and let it sit for a while. Once you have done this, your soil will be completely ready for whatever seeds you may plant in it.
Continue to Monitor Your Soil
Once your seeds or starter plants are in the ground, you still want to pay attention to the soil. The first few weeks, the seeds are desperately using up all the nutrients around them to sprout into a real plant. If they run out of food, how are they supposed to grow? About a week after planting, you should add the same amount of fertilizer that you added before. After this you should continue to use fertilizer, but not as often. If you add a tiny bit every couple of weeks, that should be plenty to keep your garden thriving.
Basically, the entire process of getting your garden ready for spring can be compressed into just five steps: 1) clean up debris 2) clean your tools 3) plan your garden 4) prepare your soil.
Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have a plethora of healthy plants in no time. And if you need any help getting your garden ready for spring, just give us a call at (717) 951-5950. We’re happy to assist you.