A guest post by Natalie Miller, a writer for Practical Home Improvement and several other home improvement websites.
The long-awaited end of winter has finally come, so you probably can’t help getting out and starting to take care of your garden again. With the beginning of the gardening season you may be very excited to plant tons of new vegetation, but you should do some preparation first:
1. Be ready for the physical part
Gardening work can be a bit tough sometimes, but fortunately, it is usually not too difficult to prep yourself. Do not let yourself get overwhelmed by the thought that you will have to handle a vast space which will consume a lot of effort. You can do the preparation step by step and allot the heaviest tasks for different days. Garden care has to be a pleasure, not a burden, right?
2. Choose the right time to start
If the soil is still too wet, there is no point in trying to work on the beds. If you start digging it too early, you can really damage the soil’s structure which will lead to long-term harm. A good moisture content indicator is whether you leave sleek footprints while walking in the garden. Raised beds warm and drain the soil promptly, so gardening professionals strongly recommend them for gardens that tend to stay moist every spring. If you are eager to start planting despite the rain, you can try covering the raised beds with a plastic sheet, but this is an anti-absorption measure only for the most impatient gardeners.
3. Do a garden clean up
Start removing weeds from the surface once the soil is dry enough. Just a couple of minutes is necessary if you are lucky enough to have only a few dead plants and weeds. It takes little effort to loosen them with a fork and pull them out. If you are dealing with cover crops, the removal will be much harder, but there are tricks for this, too. Just use a sharp and flat shovel to sever the top vegetation and compost it, leaving the roots. Another thing you can do with the cover crop is to dig it into the soil, but this way you will postpone spring planting by a few weeks more.
4. Improve the soil
After you have cleared the garden beds, treat them with some soil conditioner and other amendments. Several inches of compost and a sufficient amount of fertilizer may be just what your garden needs to be completely ready for spring. Recover the pH balance of the soil by treating acidic soils with some ground limestone and use pine sawdust if your garden’s soil is more alkaline. Depending on the condition of the soil, you can simply scatter the amendments on the surface or use a fork to dig the substances a few inches into the soil. In case the garden is in a terrible state, double digging may be the only thing that will save it. Should any large pieces of soil be left, break them up with a fork and shape the garden beds with a rake.
When you have gone through all these steps and have a garden which is cleaned up, thoroughly fertilized and shaped, you are ready to welcome spring. Announce the official beginning of the gardening season and enjoy your sowing or planting work. Spring is much more cheerful with a beautiful garden to take care of.
Samantha Grose, Associate AIA, Allied ASID Designer for Optima Homes and JP&CO
Samantha Grose is both Associate AIA and Allied ASID. She is the lead designer for Optima Homes and JP&CO. She takes a unique approach to design creating spaces that are casually sophisticated and timeless in design, where you and your family can live comfortably. She has worked extensively throughout the TWIN CITIES area having completed many new homes and large scale whole house remodels.
Samantha received her BS from the University of Minnesota majoring in both ARCHITECTURE and ART. She is deeply committed to a creative approach giving you highly functional spaces with an aesthetic appeal for everyday living.