Spring is finally here and gardeners everywhere are dusting off their gardening tools and getting ready to break some ground. After a long winter, there is a lot to do to get your garden in shape. Taking the time to prep will pay off when it comes time to harvest the fruits of your labor. Here are some simple steps to prep your garden for spring planting.
Select Your Site
If you already have an existing garden, this step is a breeze and you can move on to step two. If you are starting your first garden, select a site that is fairly level, receives at least six hours of direct sun daily and has adequate drainage. You will want to be able to water your garden regularly so, make sure you are in proximity of your water source.
Evaluation and Maintenance
A few weeks before planting, it is time to evaluate your garden and equipment. Clear your garden of branches, leaves and debris that have fallen or accumulated over the winter. Fix any breaks in your fence, replace rusty or broken gate hardware and make sure that your gardening tools are up to par. Break up the soil, turning it over and breaking up hard clumps. Make sure your tools are clean when you do this. Using dirty tools can spread disease into your soil.
If you start your plants from seed, it is best to start them indoors where conditions are optimal and then, transplant the seedlings when ready. The other option is to buy young plants when it is safe to plant in your area at your local garden center. If you are starting seeds indoors, many stores like Walmart have small peat pots or peat trays that work very well. Use a soil that is made for starting seeds for best results. Make sure they receive adequate sunlight and water.
Test Your Soil
Whether you are an organic gardener or not, you want to test your soil to discover which nutrients are lacking. Your local garden center or nearest Lowe’s will have kits to do this. Once you have the results, you can purchase the right nutrients to nourish your soil.
If you are not already composting, you need to start. It will not only cut down on your household garbage but add important nutrients to your soil. There are many options that will help you compost efficiently. You can use a countertop compost bin to collect organic kitchen scraps like vegetable and fruit peels, egg shells, coffee grounds etc. From your yard, you can add grass clippings and leaves.
Keep a Gardening Journal
Having a gardening journal can help you remember what things to do and what things to change each season. You should write down when you start seeds, transplant and what you plant where. It is important to rotate your crops as it will help reduce soil nutrient depletion and garden pests. Your gardening journal gives you something to look back on as you plan your garden each year. It allows you to learn from your mistakes and capitalize on your successes.