5 tips for planning your spring garden
Let’s face it: It’s not time to break out the bathing suits yet.
More likely than not, you’re sick of the cold, wince at the thought of a snowflake, and you have visions of basking in sunshine.
What you have is a case of spring fever, and we have an easy cure. Start planning out your garden.
Now, we’re not suggesting you get out there and start planting yet. But spring begins on March 20, the vernal equinox. Even before then, there’s plenty to do. We’ve offered a handful of tips to help get your garden ready for spring.
1. Make a plan:
Right now, you may see nothing but beige and gray where vibrant flowers bloomed last year. But take your imagination and a sketch pad outside, and start sketching out your garden spaces. Before you head out, flip through a few seed catalogs for inspiration. Then think back and take notes on which plants thrived last year, and which struggled to survive. When your garden is dormant – with only the basic “bones” of perennials, bushes and trees – it’s easy to map out color schemes and shapes. If you have a veggie garden, this is a perfect time to create a “map.” If your tomatoes produced only paltry fruit, perhaps they craved more sunlight and need a new location. Love carrots and radishes, but have had no luck with them? It could be they don’t care for your clay soil.
2. Equip yourself:
You’re only as good as the tools you use. It’s worth investing in a few good ones to help you through the growing season. A sturdy, ergonomic long-handled pruner will ensure healthy bushes, and will likely spare you pain in your hands, shoulders and back. Look for a hand trowel made with a stainless steel head, and you’ll treasure it for years. A spade and hoe are also tools to invest in. Before you purchase any of these, see how they feel in your hand. Also, look for a good brand. We like the Corona Egrip 7.25 inch Stainless Steel Trowel, $7.98 (plus Cash Back), Lowes.com
3. Tidy up a bit:
If you never got around to raking last year, never fear. Many of the old leaves have turned to dust, and have even helped enrich your soil. But there’s too much of a good thing: If you have a thick blanket of leaves and debris, that lawn isn’t getting light. Take advantage of the next sunny day and start raking. This will reveal the “bald spots” in your yard. When those temperatures climb to 65 degrees, you can seed your grassy areas. For now, simply rake and wait.Check out the Cavex 32 inch Black Poly With Foam Blister Guard Rake, $14.97 (plus Cash Back), homedepot.com
4. Get a jump on planting:
Savvy gardeners don’t wait until June to plant. Plant seeds with the help of a seed starter kit, and you won’t be stuck paying high prices for plants in June. A good kit will give you careful instructions for nurturing those tender plants. And, let’s face it, it’s more fun to start those flowers and veggies “from scratch.” Planter’s Pride 72-Cell Seed Starter Greenhouse Kit, $9.06 (plus Cash Back), Walmart.com
5. Hands-on projects:
Once you’ve invested in a few good tools, it’s time to think about your delicate hands. Head out to cut back that rose bush without sturdy gloves, and you’ll look as if you lost a battle with a gang of feral housecats. What’s more, who likes dirt under nails? Here’s a tip for those who can’t resist the feel of warm dirt on bare skin: scratch a bar of soap before you start to dig, and embed the soap under your nails (resist the temptation to rub your eyes). It will displace most of the dirt, and it’s as easy as a quick scrub with a brush – an old toothbrush works – to have spotless nails after you’ve weeded or planted. But for most work with trowels and tools, or weeding, you’ll want a pair of flexible, sturdy gloves. We highly recommend the Women’s Kobalt Goatskin Gloves, $22.95 (plus Cash Back), burpee.com