If you are anything like me, you’re wondering what you can do now for a spring garden so you don’t succumb to the winter blues. There is nothing quite like the peaceful hours spent working in the soil, the peace and solitude is something my soul craves year-round.
Despite it being an off-season for gardening, there is still plenty you can do for a spring garden and that is what we are going to talk about in this article.
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What To Do Now For A Spring Garden
Winter is the season where a gardener is fighting off the winter blues, the days are short and for many wet and cold. The stretch of time right after the holidays roll through is the hardest for me, when I want so desperately to put on my overalls and get out in the garden to get my hands dirty. But it will be quite a while before spring shows up at any of our doors, so what can you do now for a spring garden?
- Buy seeds
- Plant any spring-blooming bulbs you have.
- Pick the location of your spring garden.
- Clear up your garden: pull out weeds, clear debris, leaves and spent mulch.
- Organize your shed: Organize your tools, and put everything in order for spring planting.
- Prepare your tools: shapen edges, and oil your garden tools this will make your spring gardening season so much easier.
- Prune: late winter to early spring is a great time to prune back old wood especially for plants that only bloom or produce on new wood.
- Divide tubers and perennials: plants like Dahlias, Daylilies, Shasta Daisies, Hostas and many others benefit from dividing them in the early spring.
- Prepare the soil: loosen the soil, do a soil test and add amendments.
- Set up new planters and raised beds [check out our article on how to build raised beds]
- Lay mulch: This is a great time to get a jump start on your garden and flower beds ready for another year.
- Plan your spring garden.
- Read books about gardening and pest control so you are prepared for the season ahead.
Planning A Spring Garden
As is the case with every undertaking a plan is always a good place to start. Planning a spring garden is a fun winter garden activity for those days it’s too cold and dreary to be outside working in the garden.
What you will need to start planning a spring garden?
- A simple journal or garden planner
- Pen or pencil
- The date of your last frost
- Your garden zone
Start planning a spring garden by figuring out your planting zone, and the date of your last frost. Mark the date of your last frost on the calendar and write it in your journal for future use. Next figure our exactly what you want to grow in your spring garden make a list of them in your planner and journal and begin buying what you don’t have.
How To Prepare Soil For Planting
Late winter when the ground has softened is the perfect time to begin your garden soil preparation. If you’ve been growing flowers or vegetables out of your garden plot for a while now, the richness of your soil has probably been depleted quite a bit. If you want a good harvest from your spring garden, now is the time to care for your soil.
Soil Preparation Methods
Garden soil preparation isn’t just about getting your soil ready for planting, for the organic gardener, it’s the number one way to control weeds in your spring garden. There are lots of soil preparation methods to get your spring garden ready for planting. These are just a few:
- Tilling – this breaks up the soil allowing you to easily plant and amend your soil, it can, however, bring dormant seeds to the surface to sprout.
- Double digging – similar to the tilling option this will break up your soil.
- Turning the soil with compost – rough turning your soil is another option to break up your garden plot.
- Smothering weeds – Using a newspaper or cardboard and placing it over where you plan to have your garden plot, leave it there until you are ready to plant your spring garden.
- Topdressing with compost and manure – This is a no-till method of soil preparation.
- hugelkultur – This is a centuries-old method of soil preparation, which imitates what you would see in nature.
- Soil solarization – with this soil preparation method you wet the soil of your future garden plot and then cover with plastic. Bury the edges of the plastic to trap the heat. This is not a method you can use in the winter, but if you are planning a spring garden in late summer or fall this could be a great method for you. You can read more about Soil Solarization here.
Winter Garden Preparation For Spring
Winter garden preparation for spring will make planting season so much easier! Here at Rosevine Cottage, we grow strictly organic. This means we avoid using as many chemicals as we can- even in our weed control, pest control, and fertilizing efforts. To cut down on the weed issues we use raised beds, we also allow our chickens and ducks into the garden to forage for bugs throughout the winter months. They love to dig in the soil of the raised bed and it’s one less thing we have to do.
We go with a top dressing method of soil preparation for our garden. Using compost, and manure we place several inches on top of the soil in our raised bed garden. This helps to replenish the soil, especially after an abundant harvest. Luckily for us, we raise lots of animals which creates lots of manure which in turn leaves us with a lot of fertilizer for our spring garden. Duck and rabbit manure are cool enough to go straight into our garden plot to help enrich the soil, while chicken manure composts for up to a year (if you put it in fresh it can burn your plants) before you should use it.
Buying Seeds For A Spring Garden
Heirloom seeds, hybrid seeds, and GMO Seeds? What’s the difference? Should I avoid one in my spring garden? Does it matter? Here is what all those words mean so you can decide for yourself.
Heirloom seeds come from open-pollinated plants that pass their characteristics on to the next generation of plants. There is no concrete definition of what an heirloom seed is, some gardeners say anything introduced before 1951 while others insist they are varieties introduced before 1920. Generally, consider heirloom seeds as seeds that can be regrown and passed on from generation to generation.
An Heirloom is the only kind that passes its specific characteristics on to the next generation. Heirloom seeds can also be grown organically and non-organic, so it’s important to remember that heirloom only refers to the heritage of the plant.
Hybrid sounds scary but it really isn’t, simply means that it’s a cross bred. A hybrid plant is the product of two varieties cross-pollinating. A hybrid can be created naturally or through human intervention. Because they are a hybrid they don’t pass on their unique characteristics to the next generations of plants. Hybrids and Heirloom seeds can both be considered a natural occurrence, unlike GMO Seeds.
GMO seeds are not naturally created and require scientists to create them. Essentially scientists alter the DNA of the seeds to create the desired characteristics and traits.
If GMO seeds are bred for useful traits why bother with heirloom or hybrid seeds? Heirloom varieties are known to have better flavor, be more nutritious, and help to preserve the genetic diversity of the plants. Many heirlooms varieties come with an amazing history also!
We predominantly grow heirloom plants in our garden because of their heritage, better flavor, and uniqueness. There are so many beautiful varieties of plants you can grow, that have been around for a very long time that you just don’t see grown in backyard gardens.
Preparing For A Spring Garden
Preparing for a spring garden is one of those things that help winter go by just a little faster. I always love curling up in the window seat with my seed catalogs and a steaming cup of coffee to plan what will go in our spring garden. Or getting out in the chilly weather to prepare a garden plot for spring. As Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
What is your favorite winter garden task to prepare for a spring garden?
Before you go, check these out!