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Prepare Garden Beds for Spring

Posted January 13, 2021

January is a great time to begin to prepare your garden beds for spring planting.  For areas like ours, zone 8, it is essential to have our soil and vegetable beds ready as we begin to plant pea seeds, radishes and other cool season crops on warm days, which can be done as early as mid-January through February.  

There are several methods that can be done and it all depends on your view of it.  To till or not to till the earth is all up to you. However we have found steps that have worked well for us. These simple steps will help with the success of your growing season.  

Remove old garden debris and compost. 

Tilling is done only if the soil is compacted. You may choose to add perlite or vermiculite to help open up the soil for better drainage at this point. If you have added compost and/or other soil amendments over the years you may find your soil to be loose, and there will be no need of turning the earth. We add a 2-4” layer of compost and lightly fork into the soil to help open it up, but not disturb the living organisms to much. Sprinkle with greensand at the rate of 5-10 pounds per 100 square foot and rake to smooth over. We have found this essential to add each year. At this point your soil can rest until it’s time to plant. 

When the soil temperature is at 45 degrees or higher in early spring it’s time to plant our early crops. You can hasten the process by covering the planting beds with plastic or floating row cover. This can give you two weeks to a month jump start on many crops.  

Before adding seeds or transplants we add bone meal and blood meal at the rate of 5 pounds per 100 square foot to add enough nutrients for up and coming crops. Sprinkle over the prepared bed and rake in the top 1-2” of soil. Plant!  

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