Spring Gardening Tips: Preparing Your Garden for Planting

I realize that it’s only February, but here in Georgia spring comes early.  I already see dandelions popping up and my crocuses have been blooming for weeks.  I have been searching the web for some spring gardening tips to ensure that I have at least a little bit of success with this season’s plantings.  I am a GREAT planter but not always such a good grower so I need all the help I can get.  I spent an hour or two outside today preparing my garden beds for a new crop and thought I would share a few of my spring gardening tips with you.  I would love to have you follow along on this seasons gardening adventure and see what sort of things all of you are growing this year!

Spring Gardening Tips

Spring gardening tips broccoli

1.  Pull out all of last season’s plants:  I attempted a winter garden again this year and once again had very little luck.  While the gardening books SAY that Georgia has 3 seasons for planting, I haven’t seen much success with my fall plantings.  My rutabaga were the size of golf balls rather than baseballs and wouldn’t feed a child, much less a family of 4.  My broccoli was doing great until a freak warm front in January caused it all to bloom and my cabbage grew wonderful leaves with no heads.  It’s a good thing I am not depending on my garden for a source of food or we would all be very hungry!

spring gardening tips compost

2.  Turn over and Amend your soil:  I like to add compost and turn the soil a few weeks before I am actually going to plant.  This allows the compost to really become well incorporated into the soil.  It also gives the worms time to help break down all the bits that haven’t biodegraded yet.  I will usually turn the soil again right before I plant to help aerate it a little bit.  My personal favorites for soil amending are cow manure, mushroom compost, and compost from my own bins. Composting at home is a great way to reduce your trash output while at the same time creating food for your plants.

3. Plan Your Garden:  One of the most important spring gardening tips I can provide is to start planning NOW.  Depending on what you want to plant you may need to order from a catalog and that will take some time to arrive.  Don’t wait til the last minute to decide what you want to grow.  For early season plants, I will be putting in an assortment of lettuces, radishes, snow peas, cabbage, and onions.  I would like to try some elephant garlic this year but never see it in the stores so I will have to order it online.  I will attempt beets and carrots again but have yet to actually grow anything a decent size from my backyard.  I really enjoy finding unique heirloom plants to grow and if you want to find some truly neat looking veggies, check out the Seed Saver’s Exchange.

gardening tips repairing the beds

4.  Repair Garden Beds as Needed:  I have a tendency to put odd little garden beds all over my back yard.  I don’t have enough land for an actual large garden bed with rows so I tend to rip out bushes willy nilly in my landscaping a build a bed there.  Some of them are made of stones, bricks, or cinder-blocks that have shifted and need adjusting.  Others are made of wood that may or may not have survived the winter.  I think I will be heading to the garden center to replace a couple of mine this year.  And I think I see a few more bushes that I don’t need…

5.   Prune Back Overgrown Bushes:  Throughout the year, the bushes, trees, and shrubbery that surround my yard grows quickly.  It usually ends up overshadowing my garden beds and blueberry bushes, necessitating a trip outside with the pruning sheers.  Your garden will need as much sun as it can get.  You don’t have to actually remove entire trees to increase the amount of sun your plants get.  Often, just trimming a few branches will let in lots of light.

spring gardening tips weeds

6.  Tackle Early Weeds:  I am not a huge fan of spraying chemicals in my yard, especially near my food plants.  Weeds, however, drive me nuts!  I try to tackle them early to keep growth in check.  Dandelions and wild strawberry are slowly taking over my yard but at least they are ORGANIC dandelions and strawberries, right?  Pull weeds after a good, hard rain when the soil is soft and roots come out easily.  Use large quantities of mulch like pine straw, pine mulch, etc to keep growth in check.  This will also help keep moisture in your soil.

spring gardening tips easy

7.  Salvage What You Can:  Depending on what area of the country you live it, it is possible that a few things survived the winter and are just waiting to be harvested.  While tilling the garden soil I discovered a few stray potatoes that didn’t get harvested last summer.  I also found a couple of onions but they were too small to be worth doing anything with.  My parsley really survived the winter quite nicely so I just pulled off a few dead leaves and cleaned up the soil.  If you planted root vegetables you might want to dig around under ground and see what you missed!

I really recommend starting a garden journal to keep track of exactly what you grow, what you feed it, and how it thrives.  In my yard, each bed gets a totally different amount of sunlight, depending on where in the yard it is.  I try to keep track of which vegetables thrive in which beds to maximize my yield each year.  My biggest problem is an assortment of garden pests and diseases that I am still trying to learn how to conquer.  Black spot on tomatoes, chipmunks, tomato horn worm caterpillars, and an assortment of other issues are a constant battle in my backyard garden adventure.  My game plan so far has been to try to plant enough that I can share with whatever critters come to call but I think they are starting to get more than their fair share of my harvest!

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