Even though parts of the country are still struggling with snow(and possibly more on the way), make no mistake about it, spring is definitely around the corner. With cool temperatures still common throughout the country, you may find it hard to believe spring is coming, but now is the time to start soil preparation for your garden for the warmer days to come.
Start Garden Planning With Soil Preparation
If there is still some snow on the ground, now is a great time to start planning your garden with great soil preparation and deciding which plants you will grow. When it comes to choosing plants, you must make sure the plants you choose can grow in your climate.
Nursery Plants May Not Survive
A common mistake people make is to believe the plants available in their local nursery will thrive in their location. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. To be sure, check with a USDA zone map to see what zone you live in, then make sure any plants you are considering will grow in that zone. Often times, gardeners will see their plants struggle to grow and will assume it’s an issue with pests or lack of fertilization when the real problem is they’re trying to grow the wrong type of plants for their zone.
Sunlight Is Important Too
Climate conditions are only part of the equation however. The amount of sunlight required for your plant types must also be taken into consideration. For example, if you plan to have a garden filled with sunflowers, they must be planted in an area that gets sunlight most of the day. Otherwise, they will not grow. Most plants found in local nurseries will have a tag attached to them that explains the sun light requirements necessary for proper growth. Nursery employees should also be able to assist with recommendations.
After the snow is gone and the threat of frost is no longer present, then its time to prepare your soil for planting. The first step in your soil preparation efforts is to get a soil test so that you will know what the pH level of your soil is as well as the levels of other nutrients that are present in your soil.
Nutrients Are Critical
These other nutrients of importance are phosphorous, calcium, potassium, and nitrogen. After this initial test, you should retest the soil in your garden every three years. Most people have various facilities nearby that can test soil. A common place people go for soil tests is local colleges or universities. It’s not a complicated process, you simply put some dirt into a plastic bag, label it as instructed by the testing facility, and then send it in. Here’s a link for the CSU soil testing lab (click here).
Drain Your Soil For Health
Drainage plays a key role when it comes to your soil health. If your soil has poor drainage, nutrient absorption and root growth will suffer as a result. Homeowners can test their soil’s drainage ability with a simple do-it-yourself test. First, you dig a hole that is 12 inches deep and 6 inches across.
Next, pour some water into the hole, then give it time to drain. After the water has drained out, fill it once again. This time you will measure how long it takes the water to completely drain from the hole. ideally, a 12 inch hole should take no longer than six hours to drain and no less than five. Anything over eight hours or under five hours is a sign your soil has drainage issues that will prevent your plants from growing properly.