Spring is rounding the bend, and so are thoughts of summer. Perhaps you made a new year’s resolution that you are still wondering how to keep. Like many others, you are wondering how to eat healthy without going over budget. Organic vegetables are often way more expensive in comparison to regular ones. Now you’re asking when should I prepare my garden for spring?
When it comes to healthy eating, it often seems like the price racks up. So perhaps you have decided that you would like to try your hand at it. After all, growing your own vegetables is a more sustainable option. It is better for the earth and for you!
When it comes to gardening, maybe you are a newbie who is unsure where to start and when to plant? After all, it is nearly spring, but often that means that the weather still drops below freezing as it hasn’t decided yet what season it is.
The last thing you want to do is put in some good hard work and love into your garden, only to find that a frost kills your first sprouts before they get to blossom. But do not be discouraged, for warmer weather is on its way soon. If you prepare for your spring garden, you are sure to have a lovely harvest just as the weather starts to warm up.
But then there is also the question of what you should grow in your spring garden. Which vegetable will prosper in the spring season? Tomatoes? Squash? Peas? Corn? You don’t have to wait until warm summer temperatures to start growing; the cooler spring months are a perfect time to begin. Here, we’ll break down when to plant and what to plant in a spring garden in 5 easy steps.
What You’ll Need:
Step 1: Figure Out Your Planting Zone.
The first thing to do to prepare your garden for spring is to figure out which planting zone you’re in.
Planting hardiness zones are essential to know, especially if you are starting your garden in early spring. Depending on your zone, there could still be snow covering the ground, or it may already be warming up.
When it comes to spring gardening, it may be best to begin planting indoors. If you would like to start planting straight in the ground, follow the zone guidelines.
For Zones 7-10, where the temperatures are warmer, February and March are great times to start planting. Zones 5-10, wait until mid to late March. For Zones 3-10, it may be best to wait until late March through April.
Step 2: Tidy Up. Get Your Yard Ready!
Before you plant your spring garden, clean up your yard. Rake and clear debris from your planting space so that seedlings are not blocked from poking through. Remove dead limbs from trees and bushes to make sure they don’t end up falling on your garden and crushing your crops. Prune the trees before they begin blooming.
To avoid the backbreaking process of weeding over and over during the summer, lay down a layer of mulch on your yard. Go ahead and pull the winter weeds to make sure you’re starting with a clean slate, then apply the mulch. Aged pine, hardwood or hemlock are recommended mulch varieties to keep weeds at bay, as well as add nutrients to the soil and regulate soil temperature and moisture.
As for your garden soil, make sure this is weeded also. Dispose of weeds in leaf bags to keep their seeds from being redistributed into the soil. The last thing you want in your garden is another crop of weeds.
Wake up that winter soil by loosening it with a shovel or digging fork. This will make it easier for both you and the seeds when you plant them in the ground. Depending on the quality of your soil, you may decide to add fertilizer. Choose one with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium so your plants can grow up big and strong.
Step 3: Plan Your Garden
For spring planting, keep in mind that the weather will be slightly cooler still. Crops will need to be able to tolerate colder weather, and even light freezes.
Some hearty vegetables to include in your spring garden are:
- Swiss chard
Draw out your garden on paper to organize which vegetables will be planted in their allotted plots of land. Take into account the amount of sunlight and soil drainage in each section. Plan accordingly as to which crop you plant in each section.
Make sure the soil is loose and well-draining. Vegetables need a lot of sunlight to grow, so find a spot away from trees, tall shrubs, and buildings. If possible, place the garden in a
Consider the space each crop will take up. Think about how wide and tall each plant will grow. Most crops need at least three feet of space between rows. One planting arrangement typical in vegetable gardens is shortest to the tallest. Sow taller plants closer to the northern side of the garden so they won’t steal sunlight from the smaller plants during the day.
Step 4: Germinate Seeds. Finally, Plant Baby Time!
Start your seeds indoors. This will allow seedlings to germinate away from the cold temperatures and increase their chance of survival in the outdoors. But remember that your decision to start seeds indoors or outdoors depends on your growing region. If you live in a warmer region, it is safer to start seeds outside since they are less likely to be killed by a harsh frost. For most crops, start germinating them indoors 6-8 weeks before your region’s last frost.
Keep in mind that root vegetables like potatoes and carrots will not transfer well, so go ahead and start those seeds in the garden soil.
Step 5: Plant Your Spring Garden
Once seedlings have outgrown their seed trays or starter pots, it is time to transplant them into the garden.
Remember to plant in order of height for the best amount of sunlight for your crops. If you germinated some of your seedlings indoors and put others straight into the ground, organize their order by maturity.
Be careful not to disturb the roots of your seedlings when moving them from their starter pot to the soil. Pour some water in the pot and lightly tap the sides to loosen the dirt so they will slide easily out of their containers. An easy trick for seedlings is to start them in used toilet paper rolls. The paper is compostable, so when you are ready to transplant, just plop the paper roll in the ground along with the seedling. This way, you don’t have to worry about damaging any of the delicate roots.
If you are sowing seeds directly into the ground, early spring is the perfect time to do it. Dry, cool soil is ideal for planting conditions. Sow vegetable seeds in straight rows in holes about three times as wide and deep as the seed. Smooth the soil back over seeds and water lightly.
Remember to account for your hardiness zone when planting in the early cold months. But don’t let the cold stop your garden from growing. Germinating seeds inside several weeks before planting can keep you on schedule with the planting season.
Continue watering crops, keeping the soil moist, and enjoy watching your spring harvest grow! You’re all set on “When should I prepare my garden for spring?”
Frequently Asked Questions: When should I prepare my garden for spring?
How do I find what planting zone I am in?
Check out our helpful article on hardiness planting zones.
Where can I buy seeds?
If you are looking for value to start a garden, look into a variety packet of seeds.
How do I find my planting zone?
Check out our helpful post on locating your zone.