The days are gradually getting warmer, the sun is out a bit longer and it all means one thing – Spring is slowly but surely approaching. For most vegetable gardeners, it may still be a few weeks before the majority of our vegetables can be started in the garden.
As spring slowly wrestles away the grip of Old Man Winter, vegetable gardeners should begin the sometimes mundane, yet essential, tasks of preparing the vegetable garden for spring.
It is best to go ahead and get these tasks completed before planting time arrives so that you can concentrate your efforts on the good stuff – sowing and planting your vegetables.
Here are a few tips for preparing the vegetable garden for spring.
Finalize Your Vegetable Garden Plan
Now is the time to begin putting the finishing touches on your garden plan. You want to have your garden plan complete before setting out into the vegetable garden. This way you have a clear and concise plan of what you want to accomplish and what tasks are most important. Remember, having a solid garden plan is essential for vegetable gardening success.
If you haven’t started your garden plan, it is time you get on the ball! I highly recommend you use an online garden planning tool, such as GrowVeg.com. You can easily create a great garden plan in just a few minutes using GrowVeg.com.
If you would like to learn how I used GrowVeg.com to plan my vegetable garden, check out Planning Your Vegetable Garden and my review of GrowVeg. You can also watch a wonderful demonstration of the GrowVeg.com online garden planner in action.
Assess Your Vegetable Garden Space
Take a quick stroll through your vegetable garden space and assess the condition of it. Make note of what needs to be done in order to prepare the vegetable garden for spring. Jot down a to-do list to help you keep track of what needs to be completed.
Begin calculating how much compost, mulch or garden fence you may need. It is important to have this planned out before the season starts. You don’t want to be running around grabbing needed supplies at the last minute!
Pay close attention to any wood structures you may have in the garden such as raised beds, or trellises. Check for any signs of damage or rotting and what repairs are needed. Make any repairs now instead of waiting until spring. You want to be planting and sowing in spring, not making repairs.
Remove any debris from the garden area like rocks, sticks, left over mulch and dead plant materials. It is especially important to remove old mulch and plant materials if you had issues with diseases, such as blights, the previous year.
The disease could be carried over into this season if those items are left in the garden.
If you had no issues with disease last year, you can place these items in your compost pile or just turn them over to add organic matter to your garden soil.
Remove Any Seedlings
As temperatures begin to rise, you could spot a few rogue seedlings sprouting up from last year’s vegetable garden. You may think you are getting a freebie plant, but it is a good idea to remove them. The new seedling could also carry over diseases from the previous season.
If you had issues with blight or wilts previously, they could be passed on to the new vegetable garden. It is best to take caution and just remove and discard new seedlings by burning or throwing them in the garbage. Do not put plants in your compost pile that could have been in contact with diseases.
Now is a great time to take an inventory of your garden tools and supplies. Check tools for any damage and make sure they are in good working condition. Repair or replace any that may be broken or unsafe to use.
Check to make sure you have plenty of supplies that you commonly use in your vegetable garden. Try to stock up to avoid unnecessary trips to the garden center. This will help to save valuable time once the growing season begins. You may even save a little money by purchasing them in bulk.
Plan For Wise Watering
This is the perfect time to develop a strategy for an efficient watering system. Plan how you will run soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems to water your vegetable plants.
Implement using a rain barrel to water your vegetables. Rain barrels are a great way to save on watering costs by using captured rain water.
Be sure to account for the future growth of your plants when planning how to run hoses throughout your vegetable garden. Figuring this out now, as a part of your overall garden plan, can save you a bunch of time and water bill costs later on in the season.
Prevent Pests Before They Arrive
It is also the best time to develop some pest and disease management strategies for your vegetable garden. Remove items near your garden that pests can hide under such as boards or large stones. This can help to prevent snails and slugs, which can seriously damage young seedlings.
Think about some strategies to attract beneficial insects to your vegetable garden. Growing some plants such as marigolds and nasturtiums as a border around your garden can deter some pests. Be sure to incorporate these into your garden plan.
Start Those Seeds
Most vegetable and herb seeds can be started indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost date for your area. Starting seeds indoors is a great way to get a jump on the growing season, especially if you live in an area that has a relatively short growing season.
Once the seeds have germinated, place them next to a south facing window where they will receive the best amount of light. A seed starting tray works well if starting many different types of seeds at one time.
Ready. Set. Plant!
It is important to prepare the vegetable garden before spring arrives. It is good to start off your garden with a clean slate.
What other tasks do you perform to get your vegetable garden prepared for spring? What tasks do you find important in order to have a great start to your vegetable garden?