Tips For Preparing Your Garden in The Spring

5 Steps Every Successful Gardner Needs to Know

21 gardening tips
Whenever a bed becomes available, plant a crop that can easily mature in the time remaining in your growing season.
Spring has finally arrived, in number only for some of us. At least the calendar says it is spring. Most recently, Winter Storm Uma passed through, reminding us that spring weather is not always warm and balmy. If you can, accept this as a positive occurrence, as it might help keep us from the early summer drought.
No doubt, there will soon be more upcoming storms, whether snow storms, rain storms or a combination. We should just take advantage of warm, dry days for now and do what we can in non-traditional ways. Here are the best steps for preparing your garden in the spring.

Preparing Your Garden in the Spring

1. When To Start

There are a few steps you can take in spite of the weather when preparing your garden in the spring. These include starting seeds indoors, planning the garden layout and buying plants for your garden beds. You can plant cool-season vegetables now and herbs in containers.
You can also plant in your outdoor beds when they have a chance to dry out. Remember, don’t put plants in soggy soil and don’t begin working the soil in the garden until it has dried out.
Cool season crops can go into the ground now in many areas. Plant radishes, turnips, beets, rutabagas, and parsnips. Some of these vegetables benefit from a touch of frost, such as the turnip. Further, plant carrots and potatoes when soil temperatures reach 55 degrees F.
For those in areas not affected by the recent storms, begin working the beds and preparing your garden in the spring. And if you’re in a southern region such as USDA Hardiness Zones 9 and 10, your planting may already be underway.

2. Change Locations and Rotate Crops

If you’ve planted your vegetables and fruits in the same spot for more than three years, it is time to begin rotating crops from different families into those areas.
If your garden beds seem tired and worn out, plant a cover crop and take a soil test. These are important, but often overlooked aspects of preparing your garden in the spring.

3. Add Nitrogen by Planting a Cover Crop

Growing peas and beans and various other crops can fix nitrogen in the soil. This ensures a consistent supply of this nutrient, necessary for foliage growth.
These crops also grow well in cool springtime temperatures. Scatter seeds into prepared beds in a sunny spot or plant them in rows, if desired. Most will benefit from a trellis or other support to hold them upright for ease of harvesting.
Other crops are planted in this manner to add bio-mass and build up the soil. Planting a cover crop returns fertility to the earth. It is an excellent choice when a stretch of land has had nutrients leached out by growing there too long. When the harvest is spent, turn over all foliage into the garden.

4. Take a Soil Test

Soil testing is often neglected by the home gardener. But a soil test will show you which nutrients are lacking in your vegetables and fruits. Most tests suggest which additives and amendments will help the growth of your crops.

5. Add Compost to Improve Your Soil

There is good reason compost is known as black gold to gardeners.
Its benefits are many when preparing your garden for spring.
Work a small amount into your beds before planting. Careful, though, the nitrogen in your compost may cause the robust growth of foliage and no development of flowers or vegetables. Compost improves soil drainage.
If you make your own compost, and everyone should, or if you buy it, use some to make a tea to feed plants.
Put about a cup of compost into a thin cloth and soak it in a gallon of water for a few days. Depending on the strength of your compost, the liquid may be dark. If so, add more water after removing the compost and store for feeding vegetable plants as they grow
If you don’t yet have a compost pile on your property, get one started now. You’ll save money and have healthier plants.

Here are few more tips and ideas on what to plant during the spring season:

  • Remove old mulch – Remove mulch that was placed down during the winter time and replace it with fresh mulch. This is a good time to clean up any other debris that may be around your garden.
  • Prune plants and shrubs – Early spring is the perfect time to clean up any plants and shrubs. Remove any dead branches, prune out crossing branches or prune back to a bud. Avoid pruning any plants or shrubs that bloom early in the spring such as lilacs.
  • Pull weeds – If you avoided your garden during winter time, then you are bound to have some weeds popping through. Remove all weeds from your garden and pull any you see as the season goes on. Pulling weeds can be hard and tedious work but can be lessened by keeping up with it daily.
  • Prepare the soil – As soon as your soil is ready, start tilling your garden about 8 inches beneath the surface. Then add a layer of organic matter or compost and fertilizer. If you grab a handful of soil and squeeze it and the soil crumbles through your fingers then you know it’s ready to be worked on.
  • Test the soil – Test the pH levels of your soil to determine if your soil is acidic or alkaline. Most plants can thrive on pH levels ranging from 6.0 to 7.5 but some require it to be more acidic or alkaline. Blueberries, for example, thrive on soil that is slightly acidic.
  • Start or plant seeds – Start seeds by sprinkling the seeds over moist and loosened soil. If you started seeds inside, during the winter, then now is a good time to transport them outside.
  • Plant trees and shrubs – When planting trees, make sure the trunk is at or just above the soil level. Apple, cherry, and peach trees are a few ideas. The later you wait to plant, during the spring, the slower your trees will develop.
  • Plant cool-season annuals – Cool-season annuals are plants and flowers that prefer cooler temperatures. Some ideas include pansies, violas, nemesia, diascia, poppy, and snapdragon.
  • Plant vegetables – Plant hardy and semi-hardy vegetables in early spring. This includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, English peas, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mustard greens, parsley, radish, spinach, turnip, beets, carrot, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, Irish potatoes, lettuce greens, rutabaga, and Swiss chard.
  • Plant fruit – Once any chance of frost has passed plant melons, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, cherries, papaya, and raspberries.

Use these tips to plan the activities you need to do in order to take care of your spring garden.

Planting Herbs

preparing your garden in the spring

Perhaps this is the year you want to add an herb garden. There are many good reasons to grow a variety.
These herbs prefer cooler temperatures, so get them started now:
    • Rosemary
    • Cilantro
    • Parsley
    • Thyme
    • Winter savory
    • Chives

Also, plant garlic now if you didn’t get it planted in fall, allow nine months for harvest.

Soil for growing herbs does not need to be rich or even amended with anything other than a light amount of compost. As mentioned above, compost improves drainage, necessary for growing herbs.

 Use succession planting for any herbs regularly used in your Ayurvedic routine making sure you have plenty, and maybe some to share.

Ayurvedic Herbs

preparing your garden in the spring

You can start your Ayurvedic herbs in separate containers, if you like, and bring them inside next winter. Many are used for aromatherapy or just for medicinal healing from the kitchen.
Start seeds indoors for warm season herbs like basil, notably the Holy Basil herb, also called Tulsi, a favorite in Ayurvedic medicine. Holy Basil has a range of uses, such as for respiratory and ear infections and for healing the skin. More than 100 varieties of Tulsi exist.

Start the Tulsi plant from seeds indoors. Then put it outside when temperatures warm, and pay particular attention to pinching, pruning, and fertilizing

If you take special care of your Tulsi basil plant through summer, it will be hearty and robust to come inside to live as a houseplant next fall. This provides regular use of Holy Basil leaves for your ailments.

Wherever you’re located, start getting your spring garden ready to grow your choice of vegetables and herbs. They’re healthier for you and your family and will offer you a sense of accomplishment.

Written by Becca Badgett

Becca is a long- time gardener with a passion for growing organically in the vegetable garden and sharing her experience. She believes everyone should grow a herb garden, inground or in containers and use those herbs on a regular basis to improve overall health. Her passion for growing led her to attend a Horticulture Program at a local community college and share what she’s learned with numerous articles on the web. She is certified in Greenhouse Management and Operations, Landscape Design and is licensed as an NC Pest Control professional. Take advantage of her expertise through our gardening articles and get your garden growing. She contributed to the book “How to Grow an Emergency Garden”, available on Amazon. Read it free on Kindle Unlimited

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  1. Hi
    I have been looking for a way to change my garden as it is very boring and really needs some colour and life in it.
    I am not a very good gardener so every tip is great:) my soil is a bit like clay in some places is that ok for plants?also what plants would you have against a fence?.
    I have also always wanted to grow my own herbs so this post is pretty informative for me.

    • t is always fun to make changes in the garden, but it can sometimes be a challenging project. 

      Clay soil is best amended with compost and garden soil so you will have drainage and nutrients for what you grow. Considering the time of year, you could plant some seeds of perennial flowers with summer blooms and purchase some flowering annual plants to grow with them for immediate color. Please consider how much sun you’ll have in the areas you’ll be planting so that you can buy compatible seeds. It is also a perfect time to plant herb seeds, both annual and perennial herbs. Plant in a sunny spot and keep them moist if there is no rainfall. You can also purchase plants if you’d prefer not to try growing from seeds. And consider friends and family with gardens that might share seeds and cuttings with you. 

      As far as plants for your fence, that would depend on what, if anything is growing nearby. If nothing is planted, you might want to consider a shrub border of different bushes that bloom at various times of the year. You could also add some vines that will climb up[ your fence, such as Moon Flower, Morning Glory and Cardinal vine, with shorter blooms of lilies growing at the base. Please keep us posted as to how your garden is growing and thanks for asking. Best, Becca

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