It’s safe to say that the cold weather is finally behind us which means it’s time to start preparing for a spring garden. This past week’s rain has given us a great boost, and with the temperatures climbing, there are plenty of vegetables that are ready to go in the ground for a summer harvest.
Before we get into planting, it’s important to prep your garden beds. Start by removing the top layer of leaves, sticks, rocks, and any debris that has fallen and hardened over the soil. You’ll also want to remove any old plant debris if you didn’t get around to it last fall.
Once the ground is clear, it’s a good idea to break it up. Winter can be very tough and the ice and snow from the season will have compacted the soil, making it rock hard. Use a shovel or pitchfork to turn the soil, which is much easier and more efficient when the ground is dry. Breaking up the garden area allows the soil to soften, but it also enables oxygen to get into the ground, which is one of the most important elements your garden will need to grow. If your garden is already established, you might want to skip this step to avoid breaking up the root system that has already developed.
Next, be sure to topsoil the beds using compost or manure, but only do this when the ground is very dry. Adding compost will give the garden a nutrient kickstart and all of that goodness that you add to the top layer will slowly make its way down into the soil as time passes. This is also a good time to test the pH level of your soil and add any additional elements, such as lime, to ensure your garden is ready for planting.
Many of my favorite vegetables are ready to go into the soil by the end of April or early May. You can check The Old Farmer’s Almanac website to choose which veggies to plant, but some that I love which are ready for the ground at this time of year include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, peas, radishes, and spinach. Starting plants in the garden from their seeds is hard, so we often begin growing our seeds indoors and then transplant them into the garden, but you can also buy seedlings from the nursery when you are ready to plant.
If you like the same veggies I do, getting them into the ground in the next few weeks will result in a ready to pick garden by late June and early July, which means delicious fresh salads and perfect side dishes for the barbecue. Who is ready for summer? I know I am!
Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.