By: Marina Delio
Spring has sprung, which means it’s time to get your gardens into tip-top shape! Keep reading for our step-by-step guide to preparing a beautiful garden you can enjoy throughout the year.
5 Essentials for Getting Started
Step 1: Make repairs
Planter boxes and garden borders often break down in winter, as pressure and moisture can easily warp wood. Check for damage and make any repairs before getting started on your spring garden.
Step 2: Weed
The preparation of a garden is the hardest part, but a garden made of rich clean soil will pay off all year long. Weeds steal nutrients and space from other plants, so get your hands dirty (or put your gardening gloves on) and pull them out. You don’t want weeds anywhere near your new, gorgeous flowers and veggies.
Tip: Pulling weeds is easiest when the soil is not completely dry – they’ll slip out of damp soil easier and without breaking. If you are weeding a large, dry area, use a hoe to cut weeds just below the surface.
Step 3: Till
Soil gets compacted during the winter by the cold and moisture, so it needs to be broken up and turned into a soft environment where roots can grow. The best time to till is when the soil has some moisture, but is not saturated with water.
Tip: Tilling is an important step when you’re creating a new garden but isn’t always necessary when you have an existing space laid out. Nutrients and habitants like earthworms from years past can often provide the same benefits as tilling.
Compost and Soil 101
Soil quickly settles and decomposes, so make sure you have some compost or topsoil to add at the ready. Compost adds organic nutrients that help your plants grow, while topsoil can add the proper amounts of sand, silt and clay, as well as an ideal pH. You can have a sample of your soil analyzed at a garden center or buy a soil test kit to do it yourself, and then add peat, lime and fertilizer as needed.
Mulch keeps soil cool and blocks some light, preventing the growth of new weeds. Spread a layer of mulch over the soil in your garden once you have added soil and plants.
When to Start
It’s important to wait until the soil is warm enough to work with, as seedlings and transplants need aerated, soft soil to establish their roots. Wait until soil is crumbly and free of any ice crystals. Soil that is too wet will become compacted as it dries and new plants will not be able to grow. A week or two after the final frost is ideal for starting.
Marina Delio is the author of the Yummy Mummy Kitchen blog and cookbook. She lives in Santa Barbara with husband, two little girls, cat, and egg-laying chickens. Marina loves cooking, gardening, photography, and living a healthy lifestyle with her family.