With spring exactly a month away (it officially starts on March 20), as a gardener and food advocate, my thoughts are naturally turning to food and getting my garden ready for spring. I am not unusual in this regard. The beginning of spring has long been associated with food. In fact, it was celebrated by ancient cultures because they knew that it signaled a return of their food supply.
So, if you are thinking about growing your own food and wonder where to start, here are some simple, yet important things you can do to get your garden ready.
Before you plant, and regardless of whether you live in sunny So Cal like I do, or a colder climate, the first and possibly most important spring garden task is clean-up, because how well you clean up the garden now determines the kind of garden you will have throughout the spring and summer.
You may wonder if thereís a good reason to clean up other than aesthetics. The answer is yes, because keeping the garden clean is key to reducing insect and disease problems for the season.
Ensure a thorough job by cleaning up perennial beds and borders, cut down dead flowers, dig up and remove diseased plants, and clean up any leaves and stems. If you have an edible garden and/or fruit trees, clean up any fruit that has fallen. Any debris left in the garden over winter can cause diseases to enter the soil and appear in the spring.
After you clean up, and before you plant, itís time to amend (or feed) the soil. Healthy soil makes healthy plants and lots of flowers and fruit.† To make soil amendment easier, till the soil to loosen it up. It also helps you get the weeds and weed seeds out now so that later it will be easier to keep the soil bed weed-free.
Tilling the soil also helps it dry out and warm up quicker in the spring. This will let you take advantage of early spring and plant cool season crops.
Once the soil is tilled, make sure you feed it with lots of compost so plant roots will grow well and top it off with a good layer of mulch.
You should also clean up your gardening tools and have your shears, pruners, and mowers sharpened so your tools will be ready with the first burst of spring.