Gardeners are starting to break out their tools, tend to soil and prepare for spring planting. Healthy soil is key to the success of a garden.
About a month before planting, clean up your garden area and tools, so everything is ready to go as soon as it’s time to start working the soil. Clear out leaves and fallen branches from your flower beds. If you compost, go ahead and add the leaves to the compost. Make sure all your tools are clean and in working condition. It’s especially important that tools be clean, so you don’t accidentally spread a fungus or insect eggs throughout the garden.
Work and amend the soil before planting perennials and vegetables. Timing is important. Work the earth when it’s too wet (e.g., from melting snow), and you risk compacting the soil, which makes it more difficult for plants to grow. To determine if the soil is dry enough to work it, conduct this soil test from Rodale’s Organic Life:
“Pick up about half a cup of soil in your hand. Squeeze the soil together, so that it forms a ball. If the ball of earth can readily be shattered by pressing with your fingers or dropping it from a height of three feet or so, it is dry enough to dig.”