How to Prepare Raised Garden Beds for Spring

garden veggiesSpring is knocking at our door and that means it is time to prepare your raised garden beds for spring planting.

Most gardeners have eagerly been awaiting this moment.  If there are any newbie gardeners reading today, you’re in the right place.  Check out this article, “When Can I Start My Garden?” for additional information.

There is something calming about looking at freshly tilled garden beds, ready to go.  The options are limitless for what you can grow and create if you put thought and effort into it.

A spring clean-up is just what every garden needs this time of year.  To be prepared is half the battle.  This article will describe the things you should be doing with your raised garden beds right now.

How to prepare garden beds for spring:

  • Make any repairs
  • Remove anything that doesn’t belong
  • Test your soil
  • Amend your soil
  • Till your soil
  • Get equipment ready
  • Start planting

Make any repairs

Examine all raised beds for damage.  Winter weather can cause wear and tear on your beds.  Rain, snow, and ice can cause beds to become bowed out or fungus may start growing.

You may need to replace loose or bowed boards or reinforce corners.  Consider applying a non-toxic wood treatment to your beds.  This will protect them from sun exposure, water, and fungal decay.

Remove anything that doesn’t belong

Check your beds for anything that shouldn’t be there.  This includes dead vegetation, rocks, weeds, sticks, etc.  This is the time of year that those irritating spring weeds are trying to germinate and invade.

Really get your hands dirty and feel through the soil for rocks and sticks.  If you have toddlers like I do, you’ll definitely find some foreign objects in your beds.

Test your soil

Having healthy soil is key to having a thriving garden.  Your soil can determine whether your plants live or die.  This is why you want to properly prepare your soil.  Soil PH(acidity of the soil) is typically 6.0-6.5 for growing vegetables.

You can download a form to get your soil tested from the Texas A&M soil testing site.  The results will tell you exactly what your soil is lacking and what you need to add.  There are also many home test kits available at local gardening centers.

In addition to that, test your soil by hand for denseness.  Roll some soil into a ball and see if it easily crumbles when dropped.  If it stays in a ball, your soil is too dense and compacted.

Till the soilrake soil

Till or turn over the soil before planting new crops.  You’ll want to do this as deeply as possible.  When you till the soil, soil should be moist, not wet.  Tilling wet soil will turn into a huge mess and it can be harmful to the structure of the soil.

Rake and level the soil.  Give the soil time to settle before planting anything.  This is one of my favorite parts of gardening.  Run your hands through the soil, you will feel happy and satisfied.

Amend your soil

Amending your soil is improving the quality of the soil by adding organic materials.  When you amend your soil, you are giving your soil extra nutrients, reducing any compaction in the soil and aerating the soil.

Think of it as though you’re feeding your soil and healthy and delicious meal.  If you have sandy soil, adding organic matter will help the soil to retain more water.  If you have hard, clay soil, organic matter will loosen the soil.  The soil will become easier to dig through.

Many gardeners will add organic matter to the soil in the fall, so that it has time to fully decompose before spring.  If you use rotted manure, apply two weeks before planting.  Robust gardens contain a mixture of vegetable soil and organic matter.

Popular types of organic matter:

  • Peat moss
  • Bark mulch
  • Compost
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Rotted manure

Get your equipment ready

Install any cages or trellises you’ll need for vertical growing vegetables.  This may include peas, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, etc.  Trellised crops save space and back pain from bending over.  The reason you need to set up stakes before planting is because otherwise, you may disturb new, growing roots.

Clean and sanitize any garden tools you’ll be using in spring.  If any of your previous plants had diseases, use a diluted bleach solution to clean all tools.  Check that your hoses, sprayers, and irrigation systems are working properly.  Make any needed repairs.

 

cauliflower

Start planting

Find out the “average” last freeze date for your city.  Put this date in the back of your mind for when the bulk of your planting will begin.

There are many cool-season vegetables that should be planted in February and March.  Warm and cool-season vegetables will both grow their best before the hot, summer temperatures arrive.

Some cool-season vegetables to plant now are:

Wait until the soil has warmed up to plant other veggies.  Once the soil is around 60-70 degrees, you can start planting warm-season veggies.

Some warm-season vegetables are:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Beans
  • Squash
  • Melons
  • Cucumbers

 

Final Thoughtsraised bed with wheelbarrow

Ever since COVID and especially now with continuous food shortages, the benefits of growing your own food cannot be beat.  You can grow the fruits and veggies that you know your family will eat, instead of just buying whatever is available that day.  You’ll save yourself time in line and money by growing your own food.

Having raised beds allows for a longer growing season because the soil stays warmer and drains better.  Roots can breathe and grow more freely in raised beds.  You can be sure if you follow these tips to get your beds ready for spring, your garden will be flourishing in no time at all.

 

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