This chilly and damp weather may make it feel like spring is ages away, but it’s actually right around the corner. It’s never too soon to start thinking ahead to rising temperatures and rays of sun poking out from the clouds. If you’re an experienced gardener, you’ve probably started to dust off your spade and selected your seedlings for the upcoming season. If you’re new to gardening, now is the perfect time to get started.
Whether you’re a gardening novice or just need a refresher, we’ve got you covered. Read on for tips on how to get your garden ready for the upcoming season.
New to Gardening
If this is the first time you’ve set up your garden, there are several things to consider when picking your plot.
|Uneven soil can lead to an uneven distribution of water, sunlight and nutrients.||Make sure your plot is near a water source or in a place that is easy to transport water to.||Soil needs to drain adequately; otherwise your plants can drown.||Required sunlight varies by plant, but most will need around six hours of direct sunlight per day.||Intense wind can dislodge your plant. Choose a fenced-in plot or somewhere shielded from too much wind.|
Though you already have your plot established, it’s always good to reassess annually. There are several reasons you may need to move your plot:
- You plant the same things year after year. Distinctive plants pull different kinds of nutrients from the soil. If you replant the same thing year after year, the soil may be depleted of the nutrient that your plant needs to thrive. Consider establishing a rotation each year.
- Your plant did not flourish last year. If there was a certain plant that didn’t blossom the way you had hoped, reflect on the conditions and troubleshoot possible solutions. It may not have gotten the nutrients it needed for the reasons listed above, or there may have been outside factors (bad sunlight, too much water, etc.). Start taking notes every year so you won’t forget come spring planting season.
Once you’ve decided on the most fertile plot, start tidying up the space and preparing for the season. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Clean your tools or purchase new tools. Clean tools will reduce the risk of fungus or insect eggs spreading throughout the garden. If you need new equipment, search on second-hand sites for used tools to save more.
- Clear away the brush or debris from other plants.
- Fix or set up fences or lay down stone to create a border for the section.
By starting your seedlings indoors, you get a jump-start on their progress. Additionally, the plants are less likely to fail because they will have moved past from their most vulnerable state. Some seeds actually require a smaller growth space to start before they can thrive in a large garden soil spread.
Before going out and purchasing seedling containers, check around your house for these household items that can easily be repurposed to start seeds indoors.
Tip: Make sure the containers get direct sunlight or have access to a florescent light. Read the packaging on your seedlings to know the appropriate amount to get them started
Before you start migrating your seedlings to the soil, check the plot to make sure the soil is ready. Not sure how to tell if your soil is ready? Follow these easy steps:
- Scoop up around four ounces of soil in your hand.
- Squeeze your hand into a fist so the soil forms a ball.
- If the ball of soil can be crushed easily with your fingers or by dropping it from waist-height, you’re in a good place to dig and plant.
- If you are faced with a large clump of soil in your hand, it’s a sign the ground is too moist to work and still needs more time to dry up from the long winter.
Once you’ve tested the soil and found it ready for planting, it’s time to amend the soil. You want to build the most nutrient-rich environment to ensure your plants thrive. You could do this with the artificial fertilizer that you can get from any hardware store or garden centre, but there are also many environmentally friendly choices that could be more convenient and are certainly cheaper. Consider options like compost, grass clippings and mulch.
Once the season gets going, it’s important to take notes along the way so that next season is that much easier for you.
- Optimise your crop rotation. Draw charts so you remember where you planted each plant to avoid planting it in the same area year after year.
- Clean your equipment. If you let dirty tools sit over the winter, they may not be salvageable come spring. Take the time to clean and store them properly so you can start the next season off on the right foot.
Use failures to improve your strategies. If a plant didn’t thrive (or survive at all), consider what could have gone wrong. Did the plant’s location provide enough sunlight? Maybe too much sunlight? Did you irrigate properly. Do some research and reflect on areas to improve for next year