Six Ways to Get a Jump on Your Summer Planting

Do you realize that if you wait to get outside in the warm summer air to start preparing your garden, then you’ll have let an entire season pass without taking advantage of it? It’s true. If you start your garden preparation in the spring, then you’ll have a jump start on the summer season.

First Things First- You’ll Need Your Tools

As with any successful project, you’ll need to get your tools ready first. Get your shovel, hoe, rake, and other tools out of storage. If you didn’t already prepare them last fall, these tools will need to be cleaned and sharpened so they are ready for use.

Check Expiration Dates and Take Inventory

Check any chemicals you have on hand from last year’s gardening experience. These may include fertilizers, other growth enhancers, insecticides, and the like. Insect repellents such as the ever-popular Sevin™ may be kept from year to year as long as it’s stored in its original package. Keep it in a location where it cannot freeze or become boiling hot. If Sevin™ is stored in extreme temperatures, there is no guarantee that the repellent will work.

Even though garden chemicals such as insect repellents may be stored, they tend to lose their potency is they are stored too long. Therefore, you should check their packages for “use by” or “expiration dates”, and try to use the product up before that time.

Till Up Your Garden Spots

There’s no set date on the calendar when you can begin tilling up your garden soil because it all depends on where you live. A good rule of thumb is to begin working the soil in the spring when there are no longer ice crystals in it. It should also be dry enough so it crumbles easily in your hand. If it is water logged, wait for it to dry before you till.

Test Your Garden Soil

If you had problems growing a luscious garden last year, it would be a good idea to test your soil before you plant this year. You can either purchase a soil testing kit at your local garden supply store. Or, if you choose, you can contact your local agriculture center. They can test samples of your soil and advise you about the nutrients you need to add to your garden spot.

If your soil is highly acidic, for example- if it has a rating of below 5.0- you’ll probably need to add a certain amount of lime to it. Most plants that are grown in acidic soil aren’t able to absorb needed nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Other plants, however, thrive in acidic soil, as long as it’s not too strong. These plants include Southern peas, Chinese snow pea, Rhododendron, Scarlet Runner beans, and Cilantro.

Start Out Plants Indoors

Many vegetable seeds, such as tomatoes, can be started indoors during the spring. All you’ll need are your seeds and some Styrofoam cups and plastic wrap to cover each one. Or you can purchase a sectioned growing container too. Your seedlings will need to stay warm and receive plenty of light too. A heat lamp works great for this purpose.

Start Planting Your Garden in the Spring

Depending on where you live, vegetables such as onions, asparagus, rhubarb, lettuce, spinach, and peas can be sown in late February or early March. And, be sure to get your carrots and potatoes in the ground by April. Check with your local agricultural center to find out the details of what vegetables and flowers you can plant in the spring.

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