Spring is a time of growth, warmth and renewal. The snow is melting, life is in the air, and that means another year of gardening is upon us. Here are some tips to get your garden off to a great start this spring.
1. Check Your Composter
It’s probably been a while since you last checked up on your compost pile. The great thing is that there’s never a better time than the present to keep working at improving your compost. See how wet or dry the pile is, how much it is shrunk in size since of the winter, and if you see any worms or other creatures hard at work. Turn the compost if you can to aerate it and add oxygen to the pile. This helps speed up the decomposition process.
2. Survey Your Urban Farm / Yard / Balcony
When the snow has melted, do a visual survey of the yard. How does the soil look? Are there areas of standing water or areas where the water drains away very quickly? One of the most underrated aspects of gardening is the power of observation. Use this time to survey your garden and figure out how you want to be planning your garden this year.
3. Get Your Tools Ready
If you didn’t clean and sharpen your tools in the fall like we suggested, then go do that now. Working with dull and dirty tools is never fun and can be more dangerous, take longer, and cause you more aches and pains than necessary. Spring is also a great time to pick up any new tools that you know will help make your life in the garden easier.
4. Add Compost to the Garden
If you have finished compost, now is the time to add it to your beds. If you didn’t make enough or aren’t composting, you can order compost to ensure your plants are properly fed throughout the season.
5. Start Seeds Indoors
Depending on when your last frost free date is, spring is also the time to start your garden seeds indoors. Different plants need to be started at different times, so count back from the last expected frost date to determine when various seeds need to be strotarted.
6. Plant Bare Root Plants
Once the ground has thawed and can be worked, plant out any bare root plants that you either have kept dormant over the winter or have purchased from your local nursery. Be sure to water well and keep an eye on it in case of drought.
7. Prepare New Beds
Spring is also the time to prepare any new beds you want to be planting it. While we don’t generally recommend rototilling, it can help in setting up a new bed, especially in hard/packed ground that hasn’t been cultivated in a long time. We like to use lasagna gardening as an alternative to avoid tilling and adding in lots of organic matter into the beds.
8. Prune Fruit Trees
Apples, pears, peaches, plums, and many other fruit trees can all benefit from a regular pruning. Pruning is done to remove dead, damaged, and diseased plants, as well as to improve airflow among the tree, shape or control its future growth, and improve the overall health of the tree. Never cut more than 1/3 of the tree at any given time and it is generally best to prune when the tree is still dormant before the leaves open up. We recommend waiting when the daytime temperatures are above freezing and night time temperatures are still below freezing. In Toronto, this is usually done starting in mid March.