Last night a dusting of snow fell in my yard. No foolin'. April may be upon us, but here in New England, winter is taking a long time to bid adieu. Even so, when I stuck my head out the window this morning I heard the chirp of a spring bird. My heart leapt up, my imagination got going and I started to plan how to prepare my garden for the season of popping joy that is to come. Preparing the ground for gardening is an essential step to any season of growing. It's akin to starting the creation of a delicious meal by making sure you have great ingredients. Here are some simple steps to give your garden a head start for a season bursting with lushness and beauty.
Clean Up + Prepare the Soil
Start your work by simply getting rid of anything that didn't get cleared away last fall. Leftover leaves, small stones and fallen tree branches need to be swept away, so that they don't get packed in to the soil when it needs to be turned over. This doesn't have to be a tiresome job, think of it as uncluttering your landscape to make more space for beauty.
Next, dig loose the soil and add organic material. You want a garden that has been aireated with some good turning and nourished with the benefit of alot of compost or other garden booster. Compost is widely available at all garden centers, if you don't make your own. If you feel your soil is overly acidic or very sandy, lots of organic matter added at the start of the season will make a huge difference to your growing success. You do have to add fresh organic matter every season, so don't hold back. Try to make it at least a 50/50 mixture of your native soil with good compost.
If you find your soil is poor in a way that can't be salvaged, try using raised beds and filling them with excellent soil that you can purchase.
Start Your Seeds
Next, do that simple, miraculous thing: start your seeds indoors. There's nothing that lifts the heart and reminds us that sunlight and nature's bounty is on the way, like starting seeds indoors. It's easy as pie. You can get starter kits at your local garden center or don't even bother and use your eggshells in an egg carton, as seen above. Seeds that are started this way can be planted right into the ground in the shell, which adds a boost of calcium for the growing plant. It's a simple process made particularly fun, when you invite young kids to participate.
Plan Your Joy
If you are planting a flower garden, think of your garden space as a painters canvas that you will be filling with color, texture and light. Then, take time to plan what you will plant. Jot it down on paper first, even it's just a scribble. It doesn't have to be fancy! Just give yourself a sense of what will go where. The simple plan seen below is a great example of how easy it can be. There is great support for this part of your process here.
If you are growing a vegetable garden, take advantage of the great information about Companion Planting which outlines where to plant vegetables in relation to each other, for maximum growth potential.
Relish Your Work
Taking time to prepare your garden is making an investment in the joy and beauty that will be flourishing there in the months ahead. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for the prep work you've done and let yourself revel in thoughts of what's to come. There is beauty and deliciousness in store!
Lorne Holden is an artist, author, educator and entrepreneur. Her book, “MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day” was inspired by gardening.