Early Spring Planting Tips

When that first ray of sun hits your face after a long hard winter it reminds us of the joy that comes from getting outside and working on our spring gardens. Here at Troy-Bilt we have asked our friends at Grow Calgary, Hamilton Victory gardens and Niki Jabbour, author of 'The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener' for their early spring planting tips to help us all get started on the right foot this season.

Prior to a frost there are actually a number of things we can do to prep our gardens. Here are the top 10 tips from our gardening experts:

 

  1. What will you plant? Understanding what your planting zone is will ensure you purchase seeds that will work best in your part of the country. Once you have picked your seeds you can also start the early germination process to get them ready for early planting.

  2. Test your soils pH. Before planting make sure you test the pH level of your soil. The pH level of your soil can influence soil-dwelling organisms, whose well-being, in turn, affects soil conditions and plant health. The slightly acidic conditions enjoyed by most plants are also what earthworms like, as do microorganisms that convert nitrogen into forms that plants can use. You can pick up a soil pH kit from your local seed or hardware store.

  3. Control Pests with Companion Planting. Before you plant anything, research which plants will complement each other in your garden. There are many benefits to companion planting such as the prevention of disease and pests that will be attracted to your garden.

  4. Where will you plant? Depending on your space you may opt for container gardening versus prepped rows. Drawing out a plan will help you decide which plants and seeds will best suite your individual space.

  5. Make room for bee friendly flowers. While planning your garden make sure you make room for bee-friendly flowers like nasturtiums, zinnias, sunflowers. Inviting more pollinators to your garden will boost the yield of crops like cucumbers, squash, melons and pumpkins.

  6. Start brewing your compost tea! Compost tea is liquid gold to your plants as it will help them provide them with the nutrients and protection to prevent disease and help your plants blow to their full potential.

  7. Make signs for each veggie you plan to plant! Sometimes we get so excited we just start planting and forget what veggie is sprouting up. As you plan your garden, prep signs to accompany your seeds so you don't forget where you planted those squash seeds.

  8. Till your soil. Before planting make sure you turn the soil over in your planned garden area. Tilling helps break up compacted clay or soil and adds oxygen and organic matter to your garden. Finding the right tiller depends on your soil type, the size of your garden, garden layout and whether you are working existing garden beds or starting new ones.  Rear-tine tillers are ideal for creating new, large gardens up to 10,000 square feet in size. Front-tine tillers are better for maintaining gardens that are less than 5,000 square feet.
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  9. Get a jump start with mini hoop tunnels. If you can't wait for the frost to be over before planting you can jump start your garden using mini hoop tunnels in your garden. Niki Jabbour says 'I use these simple structures to shelter heat-loving crops like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and melons from unpredictable spring weather.' If you do use mini hoop tunnels don't forget to open the ends on warm days to keep your plants ventilated.

  10. Keep Succession Planting in Mind.  Succession planting is the key to a non-stop harvest and is simply the process of replacing spent crops with fresh seeds or seedlings. Use a grow-lights to produce a steady supply of replacement seedlings, saving you both time and money.