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Preparing Gardens for Spring

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Garden CartSpring will be here soon, and it is not too early to begin to plan how you will prepare your garden for the next growing season. Here are some important steps you should take to get your garden ready before you plant new flowers or vegetables.

If there are any plant skeletons left over in your garden from last summer, remove them before you plant anything else. Planting new flowers or vegetables when old plant material is still there will make it difficult to remove it later without damaging the new plants. You can add plant skeletons to your compost pile.

Pull any weeds in your garden. This is easiest when the roots are shallow. Cover the bare spots with 3 or 4 inches of mulch or black plastic sheeting to prevent more weeds from growing.

Plants grow best in areas with good drainage. Clear leaves and other debris out of drainage ditches. You can put dead leaves and small branches in your compost pile.

Wet winter soil can damage raised beds. Fix any bowed or leaning sides before you plant in the spring. Dig back the soil on the bowed side and drive in new stakes on the inside of the sideboards. The stakes should lean in slightly. Push the sideboards up to the stakes and screw or nail them in. You should also repair your trellises or fencing before your spring planting.

When the ground is dry enough, top dress the beds with compost or well-seasoned manure to prepare the soil for planting. Don't dig up the bed. Nutrients added on the surface will work their way down into the soil below.

If your soil's pH is below 6.2, it is too acidic, which can make it difficult for plants to grow. Early spring is a good time to treat the soil with lime. Dolomite is the finest grind and is recommended. Do not use hydrate lime or "quick lime" because it can change the pH too quickly and damage plants. Add lime to the soil several weeks before you plan to plant your flowers or vegetables. After you lime the beds, cover them with plastic during heavy rains to prevent runoff.

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