Spring Garden Specialties

Spring Garden Specialties
by charlie reese

Gardening is a funny hobby, in that people either can’t get enough of it, or they don’t know a hoe from a rake! For those of you who already have your gardening catalogs dog-eared, from frequent perusals, you probably can’t wait to get outside and get things going for spring. Garden preparation can be some of the heaviest work of the season, but pays off when the seeds start sprouting and the rose bushes begin to leaf out. However, it’s also important to busy yourself with the right spring garden preparation tasks first. Even some experienced gardeners lose patience, waiting for spring to come and begin digging and adding amendments too early, which can lead to an inferior soil structure and fewer blooms! Let’s take a look at how to approach your spring garden preparations to optimize your results during the warm season.

OK. Let’s assume you’re not quite done with the catalogs. Finish deciding which plants and seeds you’ll be purchasing and which existing plants you might want to move to a different location. If you have plants you want to move, do this spring gardening preparation step while the plant’s still dormant, before it starts to green up. Take a look at your garden tools and get them cleaned up, making a note of any that need replacing. Order your supplies. Your plants will be shipped according to your area’s planting dates, while tools and seeds are usually sent right away. If you have a lawn and a mower, get the blades sharpened.

Although this spring garden preparation step isn’t essential, you can get a good jump on the season by building a cold frame. It’s very easy to do. You can use wood, or use hay bales to form the bed ” 18 inches high is sufficient to grow most cool season vegetables, such as lettuce, peas, kale, spinach, parsley and fennel. Add your soil and cover the cold frame with glass. An old window will do just fine. This also gives you a chance to dig around in the dirt!

Plant Stuff

Do get a soil test. This spring garden preparation task is often neglected. It’s really worth the money. You’ll know just the right amounts of which amendments you’ll need for the correct Ph for what you want to grow. Most test kits instruct you to take soil samples from a number of locations for the most accurate results.

Before you go digging around in the garden, turning soil and adding amendments, be sure the soil is dry enough! Wet soil, worked too soon, has a tendency to compact even further, with a poor soil structure at the end of all your hard work. However, you can pile the amendments on the top of the soil and wit for the soil to dry out. The rule of thumb is that a ball of soil, squeezed lightly in your palm, should fall apart easily, crumbling. If the soil sticks together, it’s not ready to work.

Exercise patience when removing winter mulches, such as you might have around rose bushes. Be sure that spring has sprung before removing those protective mulches. At the same time, refresh mulches all around the garden, laced with a little blood meal (comes powdered, in a box at any nursery) to replace the nitrogen lost by the breakdown of last year’s mulch.

Perhaps not on many people’s list of favorite spring garden preparation jobs, a thorough weeding now will save you many hours later. The sprouting weeds are easy to pull and don’t have a chance to go to seed. Doing this garden chore once a week all during spring makes summer weeding that goes quickly. If you have raised beds, this strategy is particularly effective.

Speaking of weeding, early spring is a good time to install edging between lawns and flower beds. Grass just loves to take over that friable flower bed soil! Edging will make a big difference in your garden maintenance time. By the time you’ve tackled all these spring gardening preparation chores, you’ll be ready for the real fun, enjoying your absolutely fabulous summer garden!

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