How to Prepare for Spring Gardening

You have probably begun to see the daffodils in full bloom and life beginning to beautifully grow around your home and community… which means it is officially Spring! As much as I love Winter, I do get excited to see fresh color and life around me when Spring arrives. My yard is full of purple clover, violets, dandelions, and fast growing grass. Yes, most of those plants people will not want, but I know the value of making wild violet jelly, tinctures and teas from the dandelion and also the benefits of clover. In this blog, I hope to share my preparation techniques for Spring gardening with you in hopes that you will learn some tricks to use yourself. 

Many of you may already be tending to your Winter gardens and even have planted brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, or other hardy plants. That is great! Keep up the great work. Others may have started seeds or plant starts in their greenhouses that are growing to be ready for transplant.  You may even be like me, where life just has been full of challenges this season and been pulling you in all directions and you have no garden started at all. That’s ok! Let’s get going together.

Here are my favorite essentials to gather and prepare for Springtime planting. 

Jiffy Organic Seed Starter Mix

Diatomaceous Earth (aka DE)

Compostable seedling pots, inside plastic ones

Popsicle sticks or plant stakes

Hand tools: garden trowel, gloves

Planning steps that may take more time up front are important because they will save time in the long run and help you have the most productive harvests. Here are some of the steps that I make sure to do every spring season.

Soil Testing: Our local agricultural center offers soil testing. You gather soil samples from several sections of the garden where you want to plant and then take these to them. They test them and tell you if you need to add any minerals or are high on things and need to balance the soil out. Check your local co-op or ag extension for this service because it can be very helpful. 

Garden layout plan: It is very helpful to draw out your garden layout before planting. This helps you strategically plan for companion plants or those that do not do well together. It also helps with spacing and ensuring your plants have plenty of room and that you maximize what you want to plant in your garden. There are several great books that help with this, as well as, many methods people use for planting. Some methods include square foot gardening, row planting, raised beds, planting in pots, hydroponics, tower planting, and more! There are options to fit most anyone’s lifestyle or space available to them. 

Gather your seeds and plants: There are many ways that you can obtain seeds. Many people save seeds from years before and use those. If you have not saved seeds, you can order them online from many reputable companies such as:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange   

Johnny’s Seeds  

My favorite way to obtain seeds besides seed saving from previous years, is to go to our library seed exchange. As a Master Gardener, I am familiar with this program because volunteers of this group will pack up seed, label them, make a catalog, and then offer them to the community through the library check out process for free! That’s right, free. I know that I am getting great quality seeds also because they are grown and then returned by Master Gardeners or people in the community that have learned to garden and want to give back. Such a fantastic idea, as we all know when we plant seeds, there are always some left over. So, why not share? You can also ask friends if they have seeds to share or swap and trade with you. I love gathering seeds this way, as my friends then know what seeds worked great for them and which did not. You can also buy starts/small plants from garden shops and farmer’s markets if you do not want to wait for seeds to grow. Keep an eye out for some future posts or blogs where I will share about how to tell if your seeds are going to germinate.  

Clear out beds: If you did not clear your garden beds out during the Winter, then it is time now to get that all cleared and ready for seeds and plants. Be sure to pull any weeds, make sure your structures/beds/rows are ready. You can go ahead and rake, hoe, till, or ready your land in the method you prefer. This will make it easier to begin planting soon. 

Get irrigation, rain barrels, watering systems in place: Just as you prep your land, you need to begin to prepare your water systems. You may choose to install a rain barrel now to begin collecting water so you are ready to water plants soon. We have used water pumps from our creek to bring water to our garden, rain barrels, and last year DIY irrigation lines on timers. I will go into more detail on the pros and cons of those in a future blog. For now, choose how you may want to water and establish that setup so you are ahead of the growing season. 

Establish trellises or climbing structures: After your ground is prepped and ready and you have your water systems planned, it is time to establish any trellising or climbing structures for your future beans, peas, cucumbers, and other climbing plants. These are so much easier when done ahead of time than after the plants shoot off climbing all over other plants, your cute garden decorations, and are growing out of control.  

Prepare for weed, bug, and other control: Bugs and predators for your garden are going to come. Bugs can be staved off with homemade sprays and DE. Snails can be prevented with beer traps and weeds with vinegar and water mixes. It is best to choose ahead of time and make an area/small shed in your garden to hold your organic tools to protect your plants. 

Vegetables that are hardy for Spring planting include: bok choy, kale, chard, spinach, lettuce, radishes, peas, chives, asparagus, beets, and brussel sprouts so go ahead and get going on planting these now so that you can have food sooner and are able to succession plant throughout the Summer.    

All in all, as you see, planning is key when it comes to a productive spring gardening season. Taking time to prepare your garden properly on the front end, allows for an easy and plentiful harvest. I hope you learned something from this and wish you the best with your spring garden this season! 

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