Spring officially sets in on March 20th and although it may not seem like it, any true gardener will tell you that as soon as the holidays end, our minds are focused on that garden. Here are a few things any gardener can do to satisfy that “gardening” itch, in the bleak of mid winter.
Compost Set Up Area:
Composting is one the best things you can do as a gardener. Compost is the black gold of the gardener’s world and you can also create it yourself out of food and yard waste. You’ll be using that waste instead of dumping it in the trash can, you’ll be saving money, and you’ll be loving on your garden. There’s really no point in discussion.
So find a nice, flat area somewhere near the house or garden and enlist some help in setting up a very basic composting system, which doesn’t require much but air, fresh material, and something to hold it all in (an old trash can with holes poked in it, a three-sided structure of hay bales or cement blocks, a small area of mesh fencing).
Containers For Seedlings:
If you’ve always been a “last-minute gardener” – purchasing your leggy seedlings and popping them in the ground right before the weather shoots up to high heat – then this is your year to get a head start and enjoy every moment of spring gardening. Start saving small containers (egg cartons are superb) for those seedlings you can grow yourself; in many areas of the country, you’ll want to get those seeds growing in February so they will be ready to plant in the ground by April or May. Check this planting calendar from The Old Farmer’s Almanac for the right planting dates for your area (just type your location in the box).
This may be every gardener’s favorite part: browsing the seed catalogs and websites and picking out which plants to grow this year. Make sure to order your seeds now so you’ll have them in time to start planting them indoors. There are several fabulous organic seed suppliers online. You can order from the website or request a catalog to browse at your leisure:
Preparing Your Soil:
Depending on your location, the only soil prep you may be able to do at this point is just say a little prayer for it. But in many part of the country, days of snow and ice will be interspersed with days of warmer weather and thawed ground. On those days, get out there and do as much work as possible to break up the soil. If you have a larger garden plot, getting a tiller in there on a good day can be extremely helpful. Just digging up the soil is good, as it aerates and loosens and prepares it for planting. But you can also work in compost (well-rotted), manure (well-cured), or other additives depending on the type of soil you have.
Prepare You Potting Area and Garden Tools:
Claim a corner in the garage, workshop, or patio as your own. Pull out that old, dusty table from the attic or spare bedroom. Give it a bright, cheery coat of paint on a sunny day, set it up, and you’ve got a brand-new potting area ready. Next find all those garden tools and get them ready for spring-time use by scrubbing them down with something a bit abrasive like a scrubbing pad to remove any caked-on dirt or rust. Give them a light coat of oil on the metal parts, then store them in a bucket of sand to keep them rust-free and sharp until planting time comes.