Spring is almost in bloom… or it will be if you prep your garden properly! The ground is still cold, but it won’t be for much longer, which is why now is the time to get started on all of your spring gardening projects.
We spoke to Dan Enright owner of San Francisco Urban Gardening and a pro on Thumbtack, who has over 30 years of experience in urban gardening, design, implementation, and maintenance to find out how to prep for plantings so you have a beautiful and bountiful garden this spring.
Read on for his tips and tricks for early spring gardening.
Request Your Catalogs
“Now is the time to get your seed catalogs, your plant catalogs, and your shrub catalogs,” Dan says. Ordering through a catalog will give you a much larger selection from which to choose at a fraction of the price you’d pay at the nursery. “You get many more varieties, shapes, colors, and sizes.”
This is an especially good option for people who live in remote locations and may not have a nursery close by. Not sure where to get a catalog? Dan says the best way to find one that works for you is just to Google it.
Know Your Planting Zone
“Your planting zone will tell you what time of year you can start planting different seeds,” Dan says. “Once you find your zone, you can start your seeds indoors in pots six weeks prior to planting outdoors, so that you can get a jump on the growing season.” There are 11 different zones and if you’re not sure which one you’re, you can find it here.
Decide What to Grow This Year
Now is the time to think about what you want to grow, Dan says. “Are you going to grow vegetables, flowers, or a combination of both? What do you want to do with your yard? Do you want to make it more perennial so it’s less maintenance or plant annuals, which are a lot more work?”
Don’t Forget to Factor in Sunlight
“Most people tend to overlook the amount of sun they get in their plots. Most vegetables need six hours of direct sunlight a day and most flowering plants require six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Know your sunlight; know your space—that will determine the success of the plants you put in. You can be the best gardener in the world, but if they don’t get the amount of sunlight they require, they will not do well.”
Look at What Your Neighbors Are Growing
If you’re not sure what to plant, Dan suggests you find the person with the best garden in your neighborhood and copy it. “The plant has already decided it loves your neighborhood, so then you don’t have to worry about it if it will grow or not. It takes the guess work out of it.”
Clean your Gardening Tools
“Disease can transfer season to season on tools,” Dan warns. So you want to be sure to clean them well so that you kill any diseases or mold that may be present. He says a simple solution of laundry and water in a bucket should do the trick. This is also a good time to sharpen them or replace anything that’s broken, so you have everything you need.
Clear Your Garden
“Before you plant anything or put down manure or compost, you want to clear your garden and yard of any debris, like leaves, twigs, and weeds.” Be sure to get the roots of weeds when you’re pulling them, so they won’t grow back.
Prep Your Soil
“Get organic material like cow manure and lay it on your beds in the winter, so it can settle for a few months before you plant. This way the nutrients will seep into the soil and you just have to dig into it when you plant your seeds. You can lay it right on the snow; it doesn’t matter.”
Test the pH of Your Soil
“If your plants are growing well, you don’t need to have your soil tested,” Dan says. “But if your plants have not been growing well or if you’re in a new house, have your garden soil pH soil tested. There are kits at nurseries or you can send it in to your state agricultural board and they’ll do it for free.”