Snow is melting, ground is thawing and plants are beginning to sprout above the soil line. It’s time to garden! Before you get too enthused, here are a few reminders for getting off to a smart gardening start:
- If you have not had a soil test done in the last five years, consider getting one now. A good soil test will provide information on the nutrient levels in your soil so that you can make better choices on the amount of fertilizer you may need for the plants you are growing. Soil test kits are available through MSU Extension and can be purchased at our office or online by going to http://shop.msu.edu/product_p/bulletin-e3154.htm. The cost is $25.
- Before working in the garden, make sure the soil is workable, not wet. Standing and working on soils that are too wet can lead to compaction of the soil. Planting in soil that is still wet can lead to the seeds rotting. To check if your soil is ready to work, grab a handful of soil, and if you can form it into a ball, it is still too wet to work. If it crumbles apart, you should be all set to go gardening.
- To help warm the soils and allow them to dry out, pull mulch back from the plants or from your garden area (avoid walking on the wet soil as much as possible). As the weather warms, replace the mulch to retain moisture and cool the soil.
- When you plant vegetables, remember to rotate by plant family. If you plant the same veggie in the same place each year, you are opening the door for fungal and insect problems to recur.
If you would like more information on smart gardening, go to the Gardening in Michigan website at www.migarden.msu.edu.