Prepare Your Garden for Summer
Summer is an exciting time for a gardener: vegetables, fruits and flowers are in full swing, and you get to reap all the rewards of your garden. However, to get to that point, you need to put in some work earlier in the year. Here are a few tips to get you started as you prepare your garden for the summer:
PREPARE THE SOIL
Healthy soil is the foundation of a successful garden, and you need to give your soil some TLC each spring before you plant. You can do this with fertilizers or go a more natural route and use compost and organic soil amendments.
You also need to make sure your soil structure is in good condition before planting. If you've already got your garden going, this might just mean lightly raking out your garden beds, loosening soil with a digging fork, and pulling any weeds that snuck in over the winter. If you're starting a new garden, you may need to use equipment like a rototiller to break up sod before planting.
PLAN YOUR PLANTINGS
One of the best things you can do to guarantee a bountiful summer is to carefully plan your garden. It's a great activity for the cold winter months: flip through your favorite seed catalogs, choose your favorite varieties, and then make a schedule based on each plant's ideal planting date. Planting dates vary based on your location and the type of plant; some crops like kale or onions can handle getting started in early spring, while tender vegetables like tomatoes and peppers need to be planted when it's warmer. You can use the USDA hardiness zones to gauge your ideal planting window.
If you have a greenhouse or a very sunny indoor window, you can start your own seeds in tray or pots to be transplanted out into your garden later. Otherwise, you can sow some seeds directly into your garden beds (carrots, beets, peas, and salad greens are great for direct sowing) and buy seedlings from a local nursery to transplant.
Once summer hits, you'll be busy weeding, staking tomatoes, and harvesting your food and flower bounty, so it's smart to do some cleaning and organizing in the spring. Pick up any tools and debris around your garden, making sure to save stakes, plastic pots, and fencing for future use. Check fences and make any needed repairs. Sharpen and oil your tools or replace any that are broken -- it's also a good idea to sanitize tools and plastic pots with a bleach solution to avoid spreading plant diseases.
Follow these tips before summer, and you'll enjoy a productive garden for the rest of the season!