It is that time of year when we start to open our gardens. When you get that consistent nice, warm weather, the fear of overnight frost has past, and you can bask in the sun and enjoy tending to your plants. In honour of this momentous occasion, I thought I’d share 5 steps to preparing your garden.
With these 5 steps to preparing your garden, you will be more than ready to plant seeds and seedlings this spring. These tips apply to gardens, raised garden beds, planters, and pots. No matter what you plant in, having properly prepared soil for your garden beds/garden/pots/planters etc… is truly the first step to a successful garden.
So, what are the 5 steps to preparing your garden?
Step One: Take Off The Covers
Last year, I wrote about how I turned one of my planter boxes into a DIY greenhouse using old windows. While I had pulled out most of the plants, some were left to see if they would come back this spring. I also covered my other planters in thin clear plastic tarps to protect my chives, parsley, spinach, and other herbs from the winter in hopes that they too would come back. So, taking the windows off the large planter and the tarps off the other planters and stowing them safely in the shed (or wherever you store such things) is the first step to preparing your garden.
Step Two: Pull The Obvious Weeds
Given that I have raised planters, I do not have many weeds to contend with; however, there are still some that do sneak their way into the planters. I always start by removing the most obvious weeds like tall grass, spindly plants, and big flowering weeds. Anything I am unsure of, I tend to leave for later in the process.
Step Three: Remove Debris
Remove any debris you may find in the planters. This includes, but is not limited to: any barren sticks left from last year’s plants, crunchy leaves from the fall, and garbage that has blow into your planters. The debris gets removed now, because you can’t necessarily see some of these items when big weeds are in the way.
Step Four: Identify What’s In Your Garden:
This may seem obvious because you know what you planted last year and you know where you planted it; however, there are plants that look like weeds with leaves that look like plants. Basically, you want to know what you’re keeping- so you want to be 100% certain. How can you be certain that you’re dealing with parsley and not a weed that looks like parsley? You download a plant identifying app. Personally, I used PictureThis. I wasn’t sure if these apps really worked as well as they said they did.
I started by scanning plants I absolutely knew what they were like my raspberry bushes, my oregano, thyme, chives, and spinach. The app correctly identified each and everyone of these plants, no matter if I showed it one leaf or the whole plant. That’s when I started to do the mystery plants. What I I thought was lettuce, was indeed lettuce. I knew it looked like the lettuce I planted late last year, it was where it was planted, but I wanted to make sure before I kept it alive. Not to mention, that there were weeds mixed in with them that looked similar. You want to know what you’re eating is safe. I then checked a suspicious plant, that was possibly a parsley plant. The leaves seemed a little too big and too dark, but it looked like parsley and was located where the parsley was planted last year. However, It wasn’t parsley it was a strawberry weed, so I pulled it right out. The parsley in the other planter did turn out to be Italian flat leaf parsley.
Step Five: Prepare Your Soil
Some of the plants that did return, I will dig out before I add more dirt to the planters, like the lettuce, and then replant them. This lettuce is a hold over from last years late seed planting you can read about here. Other plants like oregano, thyme, spinach, and chives, I leave them where they are and simply add the dirt in and around them. No matter if you have raised planters or a traditional garden, you should add a good quality soil, top soil, or triple mix (organic, if possible), into your planters before each planting season. You do this not just to raise the level of soil in the planter, which does compact year after year; but, also to replenish the nutrients from the soil. By keeping your soil well-maintained you will grow large, happy, healthy, and fruitful plants/herbs.
Remember that gardening is about more than just the harvest of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, that you yield. It’s a great hobby, a way to relax and destress, plus it’s so calming that it can be quite helpful for dealing with anxiety, as there is something peaceful about working with your hands. Not to mention, it can be a great form of exercise, as it gets you outside and moving whether you are on a balcony, patio, or out in your backyard. Just remember a hat and your sunscreen!
No matter if you are a newbie or an old pro at gardening, these 5 steps to preparing your garden are key. Do you have any other steps to preparing your garden to add to our list? Leave us a comment below and let us know.
Happy gardening (safely) in the sunshine!