Spring is finally on its way, and with the right gardening tips, you can start enjoying the fruits of your labor as the weather warms up. Paying attention to the best planting times, creating a planting schedule, and checking the specific requirements for all your fruits, vegetables, and flowers are all essential, but there are some easily forgotten and wholly unexpected things you should do to prepare the perfect garden. Ideally, every weekend will soon be a sunny extravaganza, so have your spring gardening tips at the ready once the snow decides it's truly well and done for the season.
1 Clean up the Yard
Like I mentioned, some of the best gardening tips seem like common sense, but they're easy to forget. Whether your yard is large or small, it needs to be clear before you start planting. In addition to mowing, if applicable, and cleaning up the detritus of winter and snow melt, you should also prune back any existing plants, shrubs, and trees, even if they aren't budding yet. You also want to rake away any old mulch, remove any stakes or guards from last year, and check any of your fence stakes or decorating rocks to make sure everything's stable after a long winter.
2 Test Your Soil
You can't automatically start planting. Even if you've bought new bags of soil, you'll still be using the dirt in your yard, and you need to know what's up with it. Test the pH of your soil. It needs to be balanced to nourish anything you plant. It's best to test every area you'll be using to garden. If the pH is too low, get some dolomitic lime. If it's too high, get elemental sulfur to lower it.
3 Change Your Watering Techniques
Water out of the tap or hose is fine – theoretically. However, this spring, why not give your vegetation some pampering, along with some needed nutrients and vitamins? I'm not advising you to pay out the nose for some fancy product either. On the contrary, you can still use what you have in the kitchen. For example, try watering your plants using chamomile tea. It will keep everything healthy, prevent dampening, and it will keep any fungal or bacterial infections away. Just don't use hot tea, it needs to be cool. Using your cooking water, i.e. the water you use to boil potatoes, pasta, and carrots, is likewise beneficial, because it's got all those vitamins left over from whatever you've cooked. Just, again, make sure it's cool first.
4 Plant Smart
The placement of your plants matters. First off, there are some things that just work better together, like planting a marigold rim around your tomatoes and other veggies. Take it a step further, however. If you happen to have sunflowers and cucumbers, plant them together – you'll get sweeter cukes. Similarly, planting crocuses and lavender together will keep the birds away from the crocuses; they prefer the lavender. As well, put any shorter, smaller plants on the south end of your garden, and keep taller things on the north end – that way your smaller vegetation doesn't end up in the shadow of something larger.
5 Green Thumb, Blue Moon
I didn't know this, but since I do everything better at night, it makes me very happy. Apparently, planting your flowers, veggies, and things at night is better for them. Something about the lunar light will help them grow strong and fast. Who knew?
6 Prepare for Frosts
You hope that there won't be any frosts once you've finally planted your garden, but winter has a way of being a jerk like that. It's better to hope for the best and prepare for the worst where your garden is concerned. As you stock up on all the pots and tools you need this year, go ahead and get some big flower pots, garden cloches, and cold frames as well. That way you have everything you need to protect your precious plants if the need arises.
7 Get Compost Crazy
Composting really is so great for your garden. It's environmentally friendly, it saves on waste, and it's so easy. If you choose to go the compost route, don't forget to start even before you plant. We have dogs and our neighbors have dogs, so although the job itself is gross, composting makes sense for us. Maybe it will for you as well. Just do yourself a favor: make sure you add in lots and lots of egg shells!
Heather and I only got into gardening last year, so we're very excited to put our new know-how to the test this spring. What are some of your tried and true spring gardening tips? We welcome advice from our fellow gardeners, and I'm sure all our readers would as well!
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