Preparing and planting a spring garden Great tips for getting the most out of your garden this year

With spring starting to peek through the winter cold, it will soon be time to plant a spring garden. Before sowing those tiny seeds, tackle a few garden chores to ensure your garden gets off on the right foot and grows the best plants possible.

If your garden has raised beds, now is the time to check for any damage. The soggy soil from rain and snow can strain wooden frames. Repairing bowed or split wood now will save you time and keep plants contained all summer.

It’s time to turn your compost pile and check for any that may be ready to use. Adding compost is a great way to improve soil naturally, and can be used everywhere in your yard or containers. Simply turn or rake it into the top inch of your soil before planting.

Spring is a great time to clean up any fall material that was missed or covered by snow.  Any perennials that were not cut back can be done now and added to your compost bin to get it started.

Next, weed and mulch. Eradicate those pesky early weeds before they get too comfortable in your garden. Remove any young weeds first and then add a good layer of new soil or compost. Apply mulches at a depth of three to four inches to discourage any new weeds.

Now we are ready to plant spring vegetables. Once the soil in workable, meaning there are no longer any ice crystals in the soil and it easily crumbles by hand, you can start seeding spring crops. Cool weather vegetables that can be seeded now include: arugula, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks, lettuce, peas, radishes, swiss chard and spinach.

Seed leafy greens such as arugula and spinach every couple of weeks to make sure you have a consecutive harvest. In the summer heat, these vegetables will bolt or go to seed quickly and can be bitter tasting. However, they can be seeded again in the early fall when temperatures start to cool down.

If you do start a spring garden, be sure to have a plan to protect seedlings. A late season frost or freeze can happen anytime in the spring here, so having enough cloth to protect tender plants is essential.

As the days grow longer and the sun shines warmer, planning an edible garden can be a rewarding way to spend time outdoors. So whether you have half an acre or just a small square foot garden, take advantage of a spring garden and enjoy fresh vegetables.

Nikki-Karyssa Scott

Nikki-Karyssa grew up in the Okanagan Valley working in orchards and vineyards before moving to Edmonton in 2007. She received her BSc in Production Horticulture in 2012. She lives in Alberta Avenue and is the plant growth manager at the University of Alberta’s research greenhouse.

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