Preparing for Your Spring Garden
Many gardeners look forward to this time of year as a break in their routines, a season of reduced work. But for a large percentage of that group, the respite has barely begun before they’re itching to get outside again. Fortunately, spring is… well, it’s still a ways off, actually, but here are some late-winter tasks that you can take on now to ensure that you’re ready when the weather warms up.
Create a New Composting Area
Of course you’ve been stockpiling all of the leaves you’ve raked and blown off your lawn through fall and winter. Now’s the time to set up the new year’s compost pile. If you have some spare pieces of wood, you can put them to use as an enclosure. If not, everything you need is only as far away as your nearest garden supply store.
You may already have one or more rain barrels set up, but this is a good time to supplement them with some more containers so you’ll have plenty to water to start spring planting. Since it’s so important that lawns receive one inch of water per week to stay healthy, it’s much better if they receive tap water than no water at all, but it’s important to remember that tap water is usually slightly alkaline. Rainwater, on the other hand, is slightly acidic, and so is especially beneficial to plants like camellias and blueberries. And of course, any rainwater you can put to use conserves water in wells and reservoirs.
Stalk Your Enemies
Many of the pests that damage lawns and gardens in the spring are hibernating in your grass right now, storing up energy for attack. If aphids, slugs, snails, or weevils are lying in wait, churning your topsoil will reveal them. Appropriate lawn treatment now can prevent serious harm later.
Shop Seeds for Spring and Summer
We all might as well admit it — we never really stop thinking about future gardening projects and improvements. You can take the gardener out of the yard, but the yard is never far from the gardener’s mind. Now is the perfect time to organize the list of seeds you plan to plant this year. The web is, of course, the ideal place for research even if you’re planning on buying at a physical store.
Check Your Soil
Snow, rain, and freezing conditions are tough on soil, so your dirt may not be at its best when spring arrives. To conduct one easy test of moisture levels, shape about a cupful of soil into a sphere. Then see how difficult it is to break the ball with your hands, or just hold it about three feet above the ground and drop it. Under normal conditions, it should crumble; if it maintains shapes in solid sections or chunks instead, it contains too much moisture. We’ll be glad to schedule a visit to evaluate and determine whether any action is necessary.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well prepared to greet spring with the right kind and amount of water, fresh compost, and healthy soil. For the moment, make sure to dress appropriately if you’re going to be working outside in the cold, and continue to layer and turn as you build your compost heap.