The time is now for vegetable gardeners to make preparations for planting early varieties and spring garden staples. Some gardeners already have a few cool-season vegetables planted and are soon preparing to plant early vegetable varieties like onions.
Late January and early February are also good times for gardeners to prepare for spring vegetables like squash and tomatoes by first removing any remaining weeds or debris from gardens. Weeds still germinate and grow this time of year, so be mindful to rid your garden of them and it will reduce the number you have to contend with later in the season.
Soil preparation is also a key step. It’s a great time to add compost. It’s usually recommended to add more compost before planting, especially in a raised bed. The more organic matter in the soil, the better it is for the plants. You can’t add enough compost that will break down and provide nutrients to your fruit and vegetables. Gardeners can also prepare potting mix to have it ready to start seedlings. A bag of peat mixed with 1 gallon of perlite and 2 cups of Osmocote, a slow–release fertilizer is recommended.
Another important step that is recommended is for gardeners to sanitize tools with a 10 percent bleach solution to prevent any transfer of diseases from season to season. A rate of 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water works well to use for cleaning and dipping the tools into the solution. Tools should then be rinsed and stored.
Gardeners should also think about building a cold frame, a transparent-roofed enclosure built low to the ground to protect seedlings and plants from adverse weather, primarily excessive cold or wet. The transparent top admits sunlight and prevents heat escape via convection that would otherwise occur, particularly at night. Cold frames should be built on the south side of a structure, which will provide plenty of afternoon sun and provide warmer conditions and the best protection from north winds.
Gardeners should begin preparing a garden plan and order seeds to ensure preferred varieties are available. Other than local nurseries, looking at online catalogs for varieties proven to succeed in a specific area and soil type is a good source for seeds. It isn’t too early to be thinking about what you want to plant in your spring garden like your tomatoes, your peppers or your eggplants. You want to be ready to start those seedlings.
If you have any other questions about preparing for your spring garden call Chelsea Dorward at 254-435-2331.