Finally, the weather has turned warmer, for many local homeowners that is the sign they’ve been waiting for to get back out in the garden. Due to the region’s unpredictable climate this year there is still the chance of frost, so while it may not be quite planting season yet, there’s still plenty of work for the early spring gardener to attend to this month. Here are just a few suggestions to help the Green Thumbs out there prepare for a bountiful year.
Clearing The Clutter: Your yard has probably not been the first thing on your mind this winter. But with the arrival of spring now’s the time to get out there and remove all the debris (leaves, broken branches, last year’s crop remnants) that have to be cleared before planting can begin. While the soil is still saturated it’s a good time to get rid of weeds, making sure that you get the roots so they won’t grow back. This is also a good time to sharpen your garden tools, if needed, because you’re going to need them for plant maintenance and soil care.
Re-energize The Soil: After the long winter months the soil is likely to be somewhat compacted, and despite the rain will be in need of some moisture. Adding organic material such as compost or manure will reinvigorate the soil and to prepare it for planting. You might need to test the soil to see what nutrients it needs, to ensure you give it the right mixture. Soil testing kits can be purchased as garden shops. You might also need to add more fertilizer to increase the health of the soil and to increase the life of your plants.
Snip, Snip, Snip: Plants that have survived the winter will need to be pruned of dead matter to allow them to grow vigorously once the spring comes. Blooming plants should be pruned right after they bloom to avoid cutting off future flowers. Summer plants should be pruned in early spring.
Ground Covers: In addition providing your yard with fertilizers and organic materials, you should also consider adding mulch to the flower beds and garden. Typically one to three inches of mulch helps to prevent weeds and diseases. It also keeps the moisture in the garden and maintains an even soil temperature. The general rule of thumb is to keep the mulch a few inches from the plant stems to prevent the roots from rotting.
Clean The Greenhouse: If you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse it’s a good idea to wash it thoroughly before spring arrives to reduce contaminants and unwanted pests that have over-wintered in the warmth of the structure. Before long your greenhouse will be home to trays of seedlings and cuttings so you don’t want them having to struggle against any avoidable problems. Sweep out any plant debris on the floor and benches and disinfect with a hot solution of garden disinfectant, and if made of glass, disinfect the inside of the glass as well. As part of the clean and preparation duties wash flower pots, seed trays and tools to help prevent diseases from infecting your young plants. Before use always ventilate the greenhouse for a few days to allow it to dry completely.
These are just a few suggestions, each yard and each situation is different. Check with your favorite gardening centre for other ideas but the main point to recognize is that there are plenty of things to do before you begin your spring planting, so get out there and enjoy your property.