Growing season is upon us — it’s about that time to start getting your garden beds, pots and greenhouses ready to plant. This may seem like a daunting task if winter has left your garden wrought with debris and weeds, but we know you’re up to the task.
Dust off those ratty shoes, don your best gardening gear and prepare to get dirty. We mapped out the eight steps you need to turn that mess of a raised bed into a plant oasis.
Eight Steps to Prep Your Garden for Growing Season
1. Prepare Your Tools and Supplies
Before you dig in, make sure your tools are in good shape and readily available. Whether that means sharpening shears, buying replacements or mending broken handles—you’ll be happy to have working tools once you’re in the thick of this project.
2. Remove Weeds, Leaves and Other Debris
The first step to preparing your soil for planting is to clear out any debris or weeds that was scattered on top of your soil or took root during the winter. If there are no perennials growing, you may be able to use a rake to clear the bulk of the debris away, then remove any rooted weeds by hand. If you have a compost pile, all of the organic material you remove, besides any weeds (as these can germinate in the compost pile,) can be added to it.
3. Prune or Divide Existing Plants
If you have shrubs, bushes or perennials left in your garden from last year, now is the time to trim and shape or even divide the plant so that it has the proper shape and space to thrive during growing season.
4. Prepare Your Soil for Planting
Perhaps the most important step of garden prep is to ensure your soil is ready for planting. Soil needs to be properly aerated to stay healthy and promote microbial activity. Healthy soil will be light and almost fluffy in texture.
Toss your soil to promote aeration and avoid stepping on it as this compacts the soil. During this stage you should add any soil amendments necessary to balance pH and provide more organic matter—mix in a bit of food waste fertilizer to feed microbial activity and deliver the nutrients necessary for your seeds to flourish.
5. Clear Out Any Unwanted Pests
While you work the soil, take care to remove any unwanted pets or bugs which could hinder your plant’s growth. There are plenty of bugs and critters that are beneficial to the health of your soil and plants, like earthworms and nematodes. However, there are also many pests that can cause destruction by eating your plants or spreading plant viruses.
6. Grid Out/Plan Your Planting Space
Once your soil is prepped and ready, map out where each of your plants will go – this will help to keep track of what’s what later on. Make this process easier for yourself by running lines of string across the garden to create a grid with separate spaces for each plant. Planning ahead can also help to keep plants from overwhelming each other as they grow, as you can ensure roomy plants have the necessary extra space they need.
7. Add a Layer of Mulch
Mulch acts as a great insulator against extreme temperatures and can also reduce the amount of water loss and prevent weeds from growing. Mulch also provides your soil with increased organic matter as it slowly breaks down.
8. Sow Long Season Seeds
Some plants require a longer growing season, so it’s important to get these into your soil as soon as it’s ready so they have time to complete their growth cycle before the cold weather sets back in during the fall.
What winter mess? Your garden bed is ready to get growing. Ensuring your soil is healthy is essential to growing healthy plants, which is why we created an all-purpose fertilizer from food waste that delivers the nutrients your plants need to grow big, without burning out your soil.