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Spring is 6 weeks away! How exciting! You’ve been looking through the seed catalogs and gotten all excited and you should be! I am! Before spring planting arrives though, here are 13 tips for your spring garden checklist.
You’ve ordered your seed, they have arrived, and you are just waiting! Before the actual planting dates get here though, you need to be ready for the day you get to start putting seeds into the ground.
Where you live may still be covered in snow and if so, you have extra time to take full advantage of being prepared when the snow melts away. Here in Tennessee, winter isn’t over, but it is coming to an end. This time of year temperatures can be in the low 60’s during the day but plummet to the low 20’s at night.
Being prepared before spring planting time is key to a bountiful successful garden. So to get this years garden off to a good start lets take a look at 13 tips for your spring garden checklist.
Spring Garden Checklist
1. Clean up around the garden area
If you didn’t get all the corn stalks pulled up or tomato plants or whatever up and into the compost pile before snow or extreme temperatures hit, now it the time to get this done.
2. Get Garden Tools Ready
Give all your garden tools a good cleaning. Look them over carefully to make sure they are in tip-top shape. Dirty tools can introduce bacteria to your plants so a good cleaning will prevent disease spread. If your tools have wooden handles, give all of them a good rubbing with linseed oil. If they have some rust on them, give them a good scrubbing with distilled vinegar and a scouring pad.
3. Check fencing and parameters around the garden
Winter can cause serious issues with fencing. Give it a good-looking over and mend any area that may be weak or allow predators in. The last thing that needs to happen is you’ve done all this work, prepping the soil, sowing the seeds, only to go out and find that a rabbit has eaten all your new lettuce that has just came up. Can you tell that I know this from experience?
4. Check all cages and such
Look over all your tomato cages, vegetable teepees, and trellis’s to make sure they are in good sturdy order. Over the winter, they could have been crushed by something piled in on top of them or who knows what.
5. Check beds for damage
Winter storms, snow or soggy soil can wreak havoc on raised beds. Check for rotted wood or bowed sides and replace them as necessary. The image below is from my beds. I’m hoping they last this season but next year, I will have to make some changes.
Working on a very tight budget, I obtained free 4×4’s and they have lasted this long and for that I am grateful.
6. Inventory Supplies
There is nothing worse that being all excited to finally get to start working in the garden and go to grab something you need and the container is empty. Take a good inventory of supplies such as fertilizer, tools, string, wire, etc. you will use for this years garden. An unplanned trip to the garden center isn’t fun when you are all prepared to get dirty in the garden.
7. Check the Compost Pile
The pile has most likely been a bit neglected if you are in my habit. Winter months are cold and the last thing I want to do is to go out and be working on the compost pile. It is time though to mend it. Give it a good turning, checking to see if any of it is ready to be put on the garden. Remember, healthy soil is key to an abundant yield of vegetables.
8. Turn Under Cover Crop and Top Dress Soil
If you planted a cover crop for over the winter, now is the time to remove it. It’s time to till it into the soil get the beds ready for planting. Once the cover crop and removed and tilled in, top dress beds at least a 1/2 inch or compost, 1 inch would be even better, over the soil.
This will give the garden good fresh layer of nutrient filled organic matter and improve the ability for plants to absorb nutrients to grow. This needs to be done a minimum of 2 weeks prior to planting any seeds.
9. Have your soil tested
If you have never had your soil tested or it’s been a couple years since you did, I would recommend your do a soil test. Soils with a low pH level (below 6.2) will benefit from lime. Plants absorb nutrients best when your soil pH is between 5.7 – 7. To have your soil tested, contact your local extension office for a test kit. The cost is normally minimal average of $10-$20, but well worth the cost.
10. Start Seeds in Doors
Some seeds require a longer growing season in order to produce and you may need to start them inside. Such as tomatoes, peppers and gourds. If so, check out this article from Rachel, over at Grow A Good Life. 10 Steps to Starting Seedlings Indoors for fabulous instructions how to begin your seedlings indoors.
11. Cultivate the Soil
Pounding rain and heavy snow can cause the soil to become compacted over the winter. Compacted soil makes it difficult for plants to grow deep roots and be healthy. Using a garden fork or a broad fork to break up the soil is an excellent way to aerate and give the microbes and worms in the soil a good boost for spring. It will also help to build organic structure.
Be careful to not “step or walk” on your planting area your body weight will compact the soil. If forking raised beds, walk on the frame sides.
12. Apply Organic Fertilizers
Spring is a great time to amend the soil with good organic fertilizers. Shallow rooted plants such as lettuce and mesclun will do fine with a good toss of worm castings spread onto top of the soil. Deeper rooted plants such as tomatoes, peppers, and beans can benefit from a good fertilizer put into the individual holes they are being planted in. If you are planting deep root plants, such as corn, organic fertilizer needs to be added to the individual rows.
13. Be Prepared to Protect Seedlings
Knowing the last frost date in your area is vital to spring planting. Because it is predicted no more frost will happen, is only a prediction. If you have seedlings up in the spring garden and a cold night is expected, have buckets, cardboard boxes and plastic jugs available to turn down over the individual seedlings to protect them. This could save them from being frost bitten and being killed.
Being well prepared for spring planting season is an important part of having a successful spring garden. Being cooped up all winter is bad and when warmer weather rolls around its easy to get anxious and waste a lot of money if you are not careful.
By mapping your garden and following this 13 tips, spring garden checklist will help you to get off to really good start.
What tips have you learned to be better prepared for a spring garden? Feel free to share in the comments below.
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