Getting Your Garden Ready for Spring (Spring Rejuvenation Made Easy)
By: Brent and Becky
Spring is the most idealistic time of the year, when gardeners' dreams of daffodils popping and tulips following behind them turn into realities. It's also the dirtiest month, the muddy brown stretch between winter and spring, when warm days tease and cold snaps terrify. Melting snow can be brutally honest, and rarely does it unveil perfectly black, rich garden beds ready to be sown into. More often, it exposes soil that is either too muddy or too dry to grow our blue-ribbon blooms. Here’s how to tackle whatever spring throws at you:
The importance of healthy soil doesn't get quite as much glossy magazine coverage as the latest tea rose or the hottest new pepper, but it's hard to have a healthy root system without healthy soil, and it's impossible to have a blooming, floriferous garden without good roots. Good drainage is about finding the balance between having a good outflow of water, while keeping enough nutrient-rich medium at root level. The science to testing your garden's drainage is in the palm of your hand.
Grab a handful of moist, but not wet, soil and squeeze it tight. If the clump of soil falls apart instantly when your hand opens, your soil is too sandy. This means your garden's drainage is too good, and if you dig a 6" hole and fill it with water, it will probably drain right away from any roots.
Even a healthy garden plot, if not annually amended, will eventually become plain old dirt. This is because essential nutrients like nitrogen and potassium, which bulbs need, are depleted by natural draining, seeing as they’re soluble in water and hungry, hungry bulbs are sapping the resources.
Fixing sandy soil is fairly easy.
Too Much Clay
If you take that same handful of soil and it’s as tight as a golf ball when you open your hand, you've got clay. Don't worry, you're far from alone in this. While clay-based soil is great at retaining nutrients, it stays soggy and is usually so dense that young, fibrous roots can't grow in it.
While fixing sandy soils is about adding nutrient retention, solving clay is all about opening the pores for delicate roots to be able to breathe. Head to your local Garden Center and grab yourself some compost. Simple, readily available and reasonably priced, compost really is God’s plant food. With clay soil, unlike sandy soil, this time leave the compost on top of the soil. Mixing it in does not help. If there is compost surrounded by particles of compost, moisture soaks into the compost and and is held there by the clay. Poof - instant bog. Leaving it on top allows the nutrients to eventually work into the clay over time and make it easier to work with.
If that same handful of soil holds loosely together as you open your hand, but crumbles with a jabbed fingertip, you happily have “Goldilocks” soil (not too much sand or too much clay, but just right). This perfect soil is totally possible to achieve by following our simple rules for soil success and you’ll be ready to have your best garden season yet!
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