While we are still in the thick of winter, it's never too early to start looking ahead to how you can prepare your garden for spring. If you had a garden last year, you will need to make sure to replenish your soil that has been depleted of nutrients while it was busy providing you with beautiful vegetables or flowers.
With these easy steps you can have your soil in great shape come springtime!
Start a Compost Pile
Test Soil's PH Levels
Till Soil and Fertilize
The first step to preparing your garden for spring is to remove all dead plants and flowers. These will be used to start your compost pile. Be sure not to throw weeds in your compost pile however, or they will comeback to haunt you. Dead leaves are nutrient-rich and are a great addition. Trim back any dead perennials so they can grow back strong in the spring--however wait until after the first frost so they won't come back before the spring.
Starting a Compost Pile
Take all of your dead leaves, flowers and lawn clippings and combine with food scraps including fruit peels and coffee grounds. The coffee grounds will help ward off slugs and other garden pests. Shredding leaves before adding to the compost pile allows the leaves to grow a "leaf mold" that is very nutrient-rich and will help kickstart the decomposition process. It is still up for debate on whether or not adding worms to the compost bin adds any real value. More often times that not, earthworms will find their own way to your compost pile over time. Make sure to turn your compost piles regularly with a pitchfork and water as needed to help the compost stay moist and grow good bacteria.
Testing Soil's PH Levels
Next step is testing your soil's PH levels. The PH level in your soil is measured on a scale of 1-14 with 7 being an ideal or neutral rating. A score of 1-7 means your soil is more acidic and a score of 7-14 means your soil is more alkaline or "sweet". You can purchase a soil test kit form your local garden store.
Till Soil and Fertilize
Now that your garden has been cleaned and your compost is ready to go, you can beginning tilling the soil and aerating it to bring fresh soil to he surface. Depending on the PH level, add the necessary nutrients to help it reach a normal level of 7. It's important to get the PH level to normal since any amount of fertilizer will not help if the PH is off. Till the top 6-12 inches of soil and mix in the compost and fertilizer. Rake smooth across the top and start getting your seeds ready! For more garden tips and projects, check out our Grow It page!