Spring is coming earlier than usual in most areas of the country. So, it is definitely time to get things ready, if you haven’t already been on the case. Here are some things that I do:
1. Keep it Simple. I have been moving around lately and haven’t had a garden for a while. This next garden will be easier thanks to some of the recommendations I picked up in this article from Eartheasy.com. Years ago I was used to really mixing the soil up each spring, but for my next garden I will employ the ‘no-tilling method’ so as not to disturb the complex subsoil environment. Another wonderful garden planning tool I’ve just learned about is
2. Keep it Smart. We just got turned on to an awesome new garden planning app called Smart Gardner, which offers a variety of easy-to-use tools for planning beds, seedlings, etc. with an array of detailed regional information. This app is also helpful for community gardens. I recommend checking it out.
3. Compost is King. First of all, why is compost so important? It takes waste that would normally go to the landfill and turns it into nutrient-rich soil that nurtures your garden plants, a true win-win. Hopefully you’ve been composting all year and have some of that prized soil to spread on your garden beds. If that’s the case this is a good time to lay the compost down and let it work its way into the soil.
- Starting a compost. If you haven’t starting one yet, it’s not never too late. Understanding the Science of Composting can help make the experience worth it, and so much more successful. Here is a great article I found about 80 items that you can put into your compost. Some may surprise you. The more often you stir your compost while watching the balance of material, the faster your compost will convert to usable soil. Get free shredded leaves and branches from municipal recycling centers or tree trimming companies.
- Start a worm farm. I had a worm farm in one of my gardens. It was so rich with worms that my friends started worm farms in their garden from scooping them out of mine. You can either find some worms from someone else’s garden soil, or actually purchase worms. They are compost work-horses! Let them compost and work your soil for you. Here is an another article on worm farming that can help you get started . Lots of people are more organized about growing their worms in bins then transfer them to the compost, then to the garden. I just grow worms in my compost pile and they get relocated to the garden soil along with my compost.
- What happens if you wait too long ? If you wait until it is too close to planting to put strong compost in the garden there are some things you can do to enrich it without burning up your plants with nitrogen. Buy some mild organic compost that is not so hot with nitrogen. Or, as I used to do, add nitrogen gentle additives like Llama poo. I used to go to our local zoo with my buckets and ask the staff if I could fill them up with Llama poo and while they thought I was a little weird, they were happy to give me all I needed. That poo went right into my garden without worries of burning anything up.
4. Mix your own garden dirt. Instead of buying those $8 bags of soil at the garden shots, mix your own using one part dirt or topsoil to two parts compost.
5. Start some seedlings. Actually end of February is a really good time to start seedlings, but it’s not to let to get them started now. I like to use the biodegradable seedling cups so that I can just put them in the soil and let them integrate into the garden. You can buy them at Johnnyseeds.com. Here is a great seed buying guide from Ecosnobberysucks.com.
Just getting ready thinking about your garden will give you the opportunity to do a little at a time so you are not so overwhelmed by waiting too late. Maybe mark you few reminders on your calendar. We all have busy lives and it’s easy to let precious garden prep time pass without paying attention.