Spring Time: How To Get Your Garden Ready

It is almost spring! Are you excited? I’m sure you’re getting antsy to get out in your garden and get your hands dirty.  

While you wait for spring, there’s a little bit of work that can be done now, which will make it easier and more enjoyable when the weather warms up because most of the “chores” will already be completed.  

Keep reading for activities to start in your garden now as you wait for spring to arrive.  

5 Ways to Get Your Garden Ready for Spring  

Depending on the shape of your garden, there may be a lot to do, even more so if winter was harsh on your yard.  

Here is a helpful list of tasks Real Simple recommends; reference it as you prepare your garden for spring:  

  1. Start Cleaning Up Debris
Late fall and winter storms can leave a lot of debris in your garden. Go around and clear any branches, leaves and other unwanted items from your front or back yard. This is important to do sooner rather than later because reoccurring bulbs could begin sprouting up again and the debris can inhibit their growth. Don’t forget to clean up raised bed or potted plants you have as well.  
  1. Get Your Garden Tools Ready
Take a look at your garden tools that have been sitting around all winter and make sure they are ready for action. Test them out and see if they need to be replaced or cleaned up before they’re ready to use.  SummerWinds Tip: Don’t forget your irrigation is also a tool. Make sure to test and adjust your system to ensure all areas are working properly.  
  1. Work on Your Soil
Soil prep is incredibly important when getting ready for spring. See below for a detailed account of how to prepare your soil.  
  1. Get Your Plan Ready
Think about how successful your garden was last year and assess if changes need to be made. Did your tomatoes get enough sun? Were some plants overcrowded? Are there any new varieties you’d like to add to your garden this year? If you need help with planning, stop by your local SummerWinds Nursery to speak with one of our experts, who are happy to help.  
  1. Maintain
Just because you got your garden spring ready, it doesn’t mean the job is done. Continue to make sure your garden, raised beds and potted plants are clear and your soil is at its best; a healthy garden is a successful garden.  

Soil Preparation for Spring  

Now is the time to start working on your soil. Even if you’re not sure what you want to plant yet (planning is a process), you can still get your garden space ready.  

Tilling, or turning, the soil is an important activity to begin now. It is beneficial anywhere in your yard or plant beds as soil can compact over time, which leaches the nutrients out of the soil - especially if amendments or composts haven’t been added for a while. We also recommend adding chicken manure, steer manure or your favorite compost to help your garden thrive this spring.  

Additional Reasons to Prepare Your Soil:  

  • Increased Vitamin D production – While you enjoy some rays while tilling your soil, your body also enjoys increased Vitamin D production, which boosts your metabolism and enhances your mood.
  • It’s a family affair – This is a perfect opportunity to teach your family what it takes to grow a happy and healthy garden—from the beginning. What are the side effects? Dirty hands, in addition to a growing appreciation for all things green and time outdoors with your family!
  • A feeling of accomplishment – Show that soil who’s boss and do something that makes you feel productive.
  • Out-do your neighbors – Be the first to get out there. Show that neighbor who always rakes up their leaves first, that spring is your time.
  • Fresh air – Enough said! Take a big breath and breathe deep.
  Getting Your Vegetable Garden Ready for Spring: Outdoor Plants  

As with other plants, now is the time to prepare for your spring vegetable garden; in fact, you can get some seeds planted now! Here’s a great list made by AccuWeather so you know where to begin:  

  1. Lettuce
If you’re planning to plant your favorite type of lettuce, keep an eye on the temperature; spring is an ideal time for this vegetable. Sow these seeds while it is lower than 80 degrees because lettuce won’t germinate in high temperatures. The lettuce will be ready to pick in about two months.  
  1. Arugula
Arugula is a peppery flavored green that grows quickly - in just a few short weeks. Use a cover over these plants to promote growth.  
  1. Carrots
Carrots are cool season root vegetables, and with the right amount of sun and water can become fun baby carrots or classic mature ones. They’re also fun because they come in all different colors including red, orange, purple and yellow.  
  1. Beets
Did you know beets are considered to be a super food by many nutritionists? These are best to grow in late March and early April. As AccuWeather explains, “The Utah State University Cooperative Extension, beets taste best when they have a few weeks of cool air. However, make sure to get to the garden to gather these veggies if the mercury rises above 65 F.”  
  1. Radishes
A favorite topping for avocado toast, radishes go from seed to bulb in just a few weeks. These are a great beginner plant because they are easy to grow and generally pest free, except for some maggots.  

Getting Your Vegetable Garden Ready for Spring: Indoor Plants  

It’s time to head indoors! The following vegetables need a little extra care and should be started in side.  

  1. Kale
This is one plant that is best to start inside. AccuWeather notes that “Spending a few weeks inside to germinate will allow kale to become a small plant in the garden. It doesn’t have to be warm outside, but this vegetable crop needs light and well-drained soil to flourish.”  
  1. Broccoli
This vegetable will do better if it starts warm to get it started. Heads start to form in May and they are harvested from spring to fall. Fun fact, the broccoli flower “Remains a tight rosette because of the cold air.”  
  1. Cauliflower
This one has a little bit of trouble growing in warm climates, so it is better to grow when the temperatures are low.  
  1. Tomatoes
This is one of the most popular vegetables to grow in the garden in America! After starting these in your home, “Transplants should grow 4-6 inches in about two months before moving them into the garden.”  
  1. Eggplant
These plants will not survive a frost so be careful not to move them outside too early. While considered to be a fruit, they are a good source of vitamins, mineral and nutrients.  

How to Use Cover Crops for Spring Gardening  

Cover crops are perfect for helping your garden thrive and succeed. Here is some helpful information to understand what cover crops are and how to get started in your garden.  

What Are Cover Crops?  

Cover crops feed the soil by being tilled under once properly matured. While growing, they reduce weeds, control erosion and attract pollinating insects. Tilled under, plant material breaks up heavy soils, improving soil fertility and structure to give you a better harvest. Cover crops improve soil structure, water retention and drainage with organic matter. Earthworms and other microorganisms that enhance decomposition love feeding on cover crops; they keep soil healthy. Your plants are naturally stronger and better protected against disease and changes due to weather and watering if soil is healthy.  

4 Benefits of Cover Crops  

  1. Loosen Compacted Soil
Having a hard time digging? Let cover crops with aggressive taproots break up compacted soils for you! Taproots mine nutrients like calcium from deeper soil; when the plant dies, nutrients are released in the root zone for the next crop.  
  1. Balance Nutrients
Legume cover crops like hairy vetch, fava beans* and crimson clover convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form plants can use to grow. When the cover crop is tilled under, the nitrogen is released for the next crop.  

*Fava Beans as a cover crop are most beneficial when tilled under prior to beans forming; however, you can harvest the plant and prune back (often yielding a second harvest) then till in, still getting the benefit of organic matter, though with less nitrogen fixing.  

  1. Help Control Weeds
Broad-leaved cover crops like buckwheat shade and smother weeds with vigorous growth. Others, like winter rye, prevent weed seeds from germinating  
  1. Attract Beneficial Insects
Flowering cover crops attract bees and beneficial insects that help with pollination and insect control.  

4 Steps to Planting a Cover Crop

  1. Prepare as for a planting bed: weed the area, break up large soil clods and add planting mix
  2. Select your cover crop depending on the needs of your garden
  3. Water as needed depending on cover crop and recent rains
  4. In late winter, prune back to a few inches above ground and allow roots to decompose or, if plants are tender enough, till plants under and allow to break down to supplement the soil
 Are You Ready for Spring?  

Spring will be here before we know it – now is the time to prepare for it! You can get your garden ready by cleaning it up, making a plan, working on your soil, planting seasonal vegetables and covering crops.  

Let us know what you’re excited to grow in your garden this spring!  

About SummerWinds Nursery: SummerWinds Garden Centers is a leading high-end retailer of garden and nursery products. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, SummerWinds operates retail nurseries in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, and in Silicon Valley, California, making it one of the largest independent retail nursery companies in the west. SummerWinds appeals to both the serious and casual gardeners, with a broad selection of premium gardening products and a friendly and knowledgeable staff.