I’ll admit that here in New England, it’s a little hard in the bite of the winter to think about preparing a garden for spring. It’s the time of year when many of us are starting to hunker down with our hot chocolates in front of the fireplace. Going outside is fine if you want to take a winter hike or hit the ski slopes. But gardening? Not so much.
Like so many things in life, though, planning and preparing ahead of time is the secret to making your life easy. And for a garden, there’s no better time to do that when you’re winding down for the season. And if you need some shopping therapy, buying seeds early before they sell out is always a good idea!
Start preparing a garden for spring as soon as your last vegetables are harvested in the fall
Most of what you’ll do is a variation on cleaning. Still, these are important tasks in preparing a garden for spring, even if that spring is still months away. So let’s start with all those plants that fed you well over the past season.
1. Clean any dead plants from your garden. It’s time to dig up any annuals and put them in your compost heap. This goes for any other weeds, leaves, debris, or old mulch. Incidentally, if you don’t have a compost heap, this would be a great time to start one.
2. Cut back perennials. Trim any dead growth from perennials so they can grow again in the spring.
3. Clean your greenhouse. If you have a greenhouse, give it a good scrub down. Wash the glass, sweep the floor, and clean up any leftover pots or other gardening equipment.
4. Clean your garden tools. Take care of your tools and they’ll take care of you. Give your garden tools a good scrub before you put them away for a while. Sharpen the blades and coat blades and hinges with a little WD40 to keep them in good shape.
5. Repair raised bed and fences. You may or may not have to do much here. Most raised beds don’t require a lot of maintenance. But if they do need repairs, go ahead and take care of that now. It’s one less thing you’ll need to worry about when it’s time to start planting. The same is true for any fencing, trellises, and other garden structures.
6. Tidy up your shed. There’s not a lot to add here. A tool or garden shed that’s orderly and neat will make it a lot more pleasant to start gardening once you’re ready.
7. Plan your garden. This is the fun part! And it’s honestly never too early to plan. It’ll be time to start seeds indoors before you know it.
8. Till the soil. This is actually something you’ll do at the end of winter or in early spring. We are, after all, preparing a garden for spring, so some of the action does have to wait. Over winter, soil can get hard and compact. Tilling it or turning it with a garden fork once the soil is thawed and dry will help young plants thrive.
9. Add mulch. This, too, is a late winter or early spring activity. Once you’ve turned and loosened the soil, add a layer of mulch or compost to help with soil health and help prevent weeds.
10. Start your seeds. It’s tough to give you a time on this, as the date of your last frost is key in determining when to start your seeds indoors. You aren’t totally on your own, though. Your seed pack will give you this information. But you will need to give yourself time, so make sure you get those seeds ordered.
Preparing a garden for spring is one of those activities that gets you set up and ready to go as soon as the weather permits. Like cleaning your house or making dinner, it’s the little things that add up to an immaculate living room or a sensational meal. And it doesn’t hurt that you get a healthy, bountiful garden out of the deal!
What do you have on your to-do list when you’re preparing a garden for spring? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!