Preparing your garden for spring planting can be overwhelming at first glance. Forgotten tools and winter weather can bring havoc to any garden. Areas that had once been beautiful scenes of foliage and fruit can now look starkly different after being put to bed last fall. Wake up your garden once the ground has thawed by following these steps:
Did you forget to pull a tomato cage from your garden last fall? Are you missing a hand trowel that has been covered by winter snow? Getting out to your garden and cleaning up the space is the first step to preparing your planting beds. Remove any trash that may have blown around over the winter and dead leaves that you won’t be using for mulching or compost. Make sure to cover every corner of your garden area, and focus on things that would normally be overlooked like leftover string guides, empty plant containers, or dead debris from your fall harvest.
Knowing what you want to grow this spring, and where you will be growing it, is essential in making sure that your garden space is well used. Research what types of plants you want to grow this year along with their ideal sun and soil conditions. Draw a garden plan, noting the wet and dry soil spots, and make a plan for where you will plant this year. Remember to allow adequate room for the size of a mature plant and keep in mind less plants per space is usually better for maximum growth potential. If a plant didn’t do well last year, consider changing the location of that plant. Having a plan before you ever pick up a tool is key to a successful garden season.
Starting the planting season off with a broken shovel or rake will put a damper on your excitement to garden. Take an inventory of your lawn and garden tools, and make a list as to what needs to be repaired or replaced. Using a tool that doesn’t function properly can create more work in the long run and can also be a safety hazard. Choosing tools that are well made, and maybe a bit more expensive, will pay out in the long run as you won’t need to replace them every year.
Part of preparing your garden for spring is making sure that your plants have adequate soil to thrive in. Turn over the top of your soil, and break up the crust to allow core aeration. Aeration is important because when soil becomes too compacted it creates a barrier that doesn't allow the plant to receive the water and nutrients it needs to grow. Adding compost or fertilizer to soil is also essential in returning important nutrients back into the garden bed. Consider purchasing a soil test to make sure that your soil has the key ingredients needed for the types of plants that you will be adding.
Following these steps to preparing your garden will make your spring planting season more enjoyable. Allowing yourself time to do this prep work in your garden will also help to create a more successful garden, so you can enjoy all those fresh veggies in the months to come!
Kristina Phelan is a freelance writer and her parenting column, Mama Bear Moxie, is printed in a few newspapers across the country. She lives on a farm in the Midwest with her husband, three kiddos, and too many animals.