When Should I Plant My Spring Garden?
With spring in the air, your green thumb might be ready to start working in the dirt. But it may not be a good idea to start digging without a plan. Just because flowers and vegetable plants are available at nurseries doesn’t mean you can plant them all at any time. In addition, some plants require certain preparations so they can thrive when it comes time to put them in the soil. If you’re wondering when to plant your garden, here are some things to consider.
Knowing when your location typically experiences its last spring frost can help guide your planting schedule, says Mother Earth News Magazine. Planting warm season crops, such as peppers and tomatoes, before the last frost can result in seeds that don’t grow. On the other hand, cool season crops, such as lettuce and cabbage, can be planted a few weeks before the last frost and will still flourish, adds the magazine. If a seed will not grow before the last frost, Mother Earth News says the package will usually note it. You can check with the National Climatic Data Center to find the average last frost date for your area.
If you are starting a new flower garden this year, HGTV says you should use cloches on bare soil while there is still a risk of frost to make sure the ground is warm enough for seeding when it is time to plant.
And if you’re a veteran gardener and frost threatens after your perennial garden begins to show signs of growth, you can help protect tender plants, such as dahlia, by covering them during the chilly overnight hours with overturned buckets or flower pots, Today’s Homeowner suggests.
Once the cold is on its way out, there are a few things you can do to help prepare your yard for a spring garden. First, Popular Mechanics suggests cleaning up the yard. This includes raking and clearing leaves and other debris from your soil, as they can prevent flowers from growing. Then, remove dead limbs from plants and bushes and prune trees before they start blooming.
As the weather warms, you may start seeing weeds growing into your garden. Popular Mechanics recommends pulling those as soon as you notice them to prevent them from flowering and reproducing. After you have pulled the visible weeds, Better Homes and Gardens suggests putting a layer of mulch down to prevent summer growth.
In addition to weeds, HGTV says new gardens can be susceptible to slugs and snails. To prevent these pests from getting to your plants, adds HGTV, put up a barrier around the outside of your garden bed using course sand, copper tape or egg shells.
When planting a garden, you can also prepare your soil by loosening it and turning it over with a shovel or digging fork, says Mother Earth News. This creates a better home for your plants, as it warms up the dirt and makes it easier for roots to dig into the soil.
After cultivating the soil, the National Gardening Association (NGA) notes it may be necessary to add minerals to keep the plants growing long-term. This can be done by mixing in fertilizer that includes nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, says the NGA. A fertilizer alternative, according to Mother Earth News, is compost which adds nutrient-rich organic matter to the soil, making it better at holding water and feeding plants.
Knowing when to start planting a garden and how to prepare your soil are the first steps to a beautiful yard. Remember these tips this spring to help ensure your garden will thrive in the months ahead.