Spring Garden Prep Tips

Spring Garden Prep Tips

An article by Travis Key from Lazy Dog Farm

As spring approaches, many gardeners will be scrambling to get their garden plots or raised beds ready for planting. If you talk to 10 different gardeners, you might hear 10 different tips or tricks for prepping a garden space. There are many different garden techniques that backyard gardeners successfully use to grow food throughout the country, so there’s not always right or wrong way. But we do have some helpful tips that we’ve learned over the years growing in the ground and raised beds.

Weed and Grass Management

Whether you have an established garden or a new garden spot, managing weeds and grass is going to be paramount to your garden success. This should be your top priority. The goal for every gardener should be to have a reduced or very low “weed seed bank” — the relative number of weed seeds in your soil. The lower the weed seed bank, the fewer weeds you’ll have when temperatures warm and ideal conditions for weed germination exist.

If you prefer to till your garden, do this several weeks before planting. Tilling will bring weed seeds to the surface, so you want to give those time to germinate before planting. Kill them with a hand hoe or flame weeder so they’re not an issue at planting time.

If you’re a no-till gardener, be sure to add a fresh layer of mulch to your garden. I’d recommend not adding mulch on top of grass or weeds, as they’ll likely grow right through it. Kill and/or remove the weeds before adding more mulch.

Adding Compost

Compost is a gardener’s best friend because it provides countless benefits for garden soil. The main benefit is that it provides organic matter, which helps soil retain nutrients and moisture. The more organic matter you have, the less likely you are to lose nutrients from runoff during heavy rainfall.

Depending on the source, compost can also provide nutrients to the soil. Manure-based compost can have a significant amount of nutrients to feed plants. Plant-based composts usually don’t have a high nutrient content, but they’ll still provide the benefits of increased organic matter in soil.

Compost can also improve the texture of your soil. If you have hard clay soils that get baked in the summer sun, compost can help keep your garden soil nice and soft. This is especially important when growing root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and more.

Lastly, compost will improve the microbial activity in your soil. Having biologically active soils is a major key to success for the backyard gardener. The more life you have in your soil, the healthier your plants will be!

Adding Fertility

One of the biggest issues that we see with beginner gardeners is lack of fertility in their soil — especially in new garden plots. They wait until their plants look pitiful before deciding to feed them. I think being proactive about feeding the soil is a much better plan. Unless you have magical soil, you’re almost always going to have to fertilize your plants.

I’m a big believer in “pre-plant” fertilization, which ensures nutrients are already in your soil and accessible to young plants. The best way to do this with AgroThrive fertilizers is by applying a soil drench. For raised beds or container gardens, mix 2-4 ounces of AgroThrive per gallon of water and gently pour onto the soil a few weeks before planting. For larger plots, consider using an injector to push AgroThrive through an overhead sprinkler.

Regardless of your technique, applying a soil drench of AgroThrive will kickstart your soil biology and soil fertility. Microbial life in your soil will boom as microorganisms break down the organic molecules into usable forms for the plants. And your small plants, whether direct-seeded or transplanted, will greatly benefit for having those nutrient sources readily available.

A Comprehensive Approach

A low weed seed bank, high organic matter content, and biologically active soils are the key to any gardener’s success. Techniques will vary amongst gardeners of all skill levels, but these three things are paramount. Plan and take the time to make sure your garden soil is in the best condition it can be this spring. If you do, there’s no doubt that bountiful harvests will follow!

Thousands of gardeners have been tuning in to The Lazy Dog Farm YouTube channel where Travis covers a variety topics ranging from how to successfully start seedlings to how to make a flavorful hotsauce that packs a punch. Accompanied by his wife Brooklyn and their two boys, the gardens on their 2 acre homestead in southwest Georgia are always filled with a wide variety of vegetables that are enjoyed fresh or preserved for later.

1 comment

  • Sandra Auvenshine

    Excellent information! Implementing as needed beginning tomorrow. Thanks so much!

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