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At Green City Growers we call readying your garden for spring planting “Spring Awakening.” Even gardens with cold frames that extend the season, New England vegetable gardens require a little TLC and replenishment to ensure a spectacular growing season ahead.
Here are the top tips for “Spring Awakening”…
Before you order seeds or purchase plant starts, create a crop plan for your spring, summer and fall crops. Or spring at the very least! Take into account the space you’re growing in, and how much room each crop needs to grow successfully. Arrange from shortest to tallest so that short crops aren’t shaded by tall crops. Use a planting schedule to help you choose appropriate crops for the spring season.
We like Johnny’s Seeds! Typically you want to order seeds in January or February when all the seed catalogs start arriving in the mail. However, how do you know what to order if you haven’t completed tip #1? Once your seeds arrive, you can start them growing indoors with a few trays, some organic potting soil and germinating mix, and a sunny spot in your home.
For the best selection, place your fruit tree and berry bush order now, in March. Early spring is the best time to plant fruit, and the selection will get pretty slim by May. It may take a few seasons for your tree or bush to start producing fruit, so plan your garden with this in mind.
We know its COLD outside! But on a sunny day in the 40’s (we’ll start having more of those in March), once the snow is melted, get out to your garden and clear away all the dead plant matter from last year. If you planted any overwintering crops, take care not to clear them out as well! This is a critical step to help avoid pests that love to set up shop in decaying plant material.
Over a season, roots may creep into your growing area. Spring is the perfect time to turn your soil and check for roots, making sure to remove any you might find. They will rob nutrients from your garden bed, so this is an important step!
Test your soil pH with a home pH kit, or send a sample to the UMass Lab for better accuracy. Amend the pH accordingly with either ground limestone or elemental sulfur. Add compost and fertilizer to replenish the soil. Make any additional amendments to replenish major and minor soil nutrients. Read the chapter on soil in the Urban Bounty book for comprehensive details about how to build up a “living” soil.