Now that it’s Spring, are you itching to get out there and start gardening? It’s too early to put plants in the ground (hands up if you still have any snow on the ground) but there are things you can do to prepare for gardening season.
1) Clean up your garden. Get rid of the dead leaves, weeds, and such. Trim back the dead growth from perennials. All of this will attract unwanted pests and not provide the healthiest environment for your plants to grow, so get it out of there!
2) Speaking of pests, look for pests that are hibernating and feeding on those dead roots and remove them now.
3) Start planning your garden. Check out this map of suggested vegetable planting dates for our region. When it comes to annuals, the frost free date can vary year to year but in general, most people abide by May 24 as the first safe date for planting. However, some cool temperature-loving annuals like pansies, dianthus, snaps, and viola can go in a good 2-3 weeks ahead of that.
4) Prepare your soil for planting. Don’t start too early though because working the soil before it’s time can ruin the texture of it for the whole season. How do you know when it’s time? If the soil is still completely saturated with melting snow and heavy spring rains, it’s too early. If it’s easily compacted, it’s too early. Pick up a handful of soil and squeeze it into a ball. Drop it from about a meter high. If the ball of soil shatters easily, the soil is dry enough to be worked. If it holds its shape or it breaks into clumps instead of loose soil, it’s not ready. If the soil is ready, start digging and turning it over to break it up and prepare it for the planting of plants and seeds. Add organic matter (such as well-rotted compost) to nourish the soil.
5) Clean your gardening tools. Hopefully, you cleaned and cared for them at the end of last season, but if not, get them cleaned (and oiled if needed) and ready for use this season.
6) Start sowing seeds inside of those plants that require a longer growing season – things like geraniums and begonias so you have seedlings ready to go outside when May 24th rolls around.
7) Prune shrubs and small trees. Now is also the time (while they’re still dormant) to move deciduous shrubs if needed.
8) Rake your lawn to remove the debris from winter and to aerate the soil.
9) Start turning over your compost pile – or create an area for composting if you don’t have one already.
10) Do you have any bird boxes or feeders in your yard? Now is the time to give those a good cleaning to prevent any mould, bacteria, or disease from forming.
If you need any help or have any questions, contact your local gardening society or club. They can advise you about dealing with pests that are common to the area, what plants are native that you can introduce to your yard, what plants go well together, and more.