As you’ve probably noticed, it’s getting to be time for some serious spring garden work!  Here at Independence Gardens, we’ve been loving the sunny days and taking as much advantage of the longer working hours as possible.

Here’s a shortlist of garden tasks you may already be engaged in…or, like many of us, may have yet to start—and a few how-tos, too.

#1  Venture out!!

Whether or not you’re quite ready to start gardening in earnest…now is the time to go start spending time in your garden spot.

  • Re-check the basics: how does the sun hit your spot at different times of day? How is water draining? If you have animals, how do they move in the space?
  • Check what’s changed since last year—any new buildings or plant growth around the site?
  • Check for problems. Does your garden have “issues”? Is it barren or overgrown; weedy, pesty, shady, or waterlogged? How about the soil—is it compacted?
  • And finally, but most importantly, make it a place you want to spend time: your garden needs your attention, and it appreciates your presence…so make sure the space is welcoming to you.

#2  Spring-clean

  • Remove debris left over from last year’s garden or accumulated through the winter: leaves, straw, dead plants, etc.
  • Immediately take out any invasives that have shown up, such as ivy, blackberry, or bindweed.

#3  Prep the soil

  • If you’re preparing new garden ground, remove sod and double dig.
  • Add organic matter—besides you, compost is your garden’s best friend.
  • Aerate the soil with a spade or digging fork, and rake the top into a clump-free, consistent seedbed.

#4 Grow things

Believe it or not, we’re already near the tail end of the ideal planting period for some edibles. But at this point, you have options for getting many things started: starting seeds indoors, transplanting seedlings, or direct-sowing outside. Using season extenders is a good way to protect fragile young plants, and it gives you more leeway in your planting techniques and timing—it’s easier to control an enclosed environment.

  • Start indoors: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chives, cucumbers, eggplant, endive/escarole, green onions, leeks, lettuce, melons, okra, oriental greens, parsley, peppers, pumpkins/squash, tomatoes.
  • Transplant out: arugula, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collards, endive/escarole, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, onions (seedlings), oriental greens, parsley, salad greens, spinach, Swiss chard.
  • Sow directly: Arugula, beets, carrots, collards, garlic (cloves), kale, lettuce, onions (sets), oriental greens, parsley, parsnips, peas, potatoes (tubers), radishes, spinach, sunchokes (tubers), Swiss chard, turnips.

#5  Build garden structures

Now is a good time to build raised beds, cold frames, trellises, and other above-ground garden structures that will help you get (and stay) growing. I say “above-ground” because we try to avoid doing too much soil-moving when it is wet, so digging too far into the ground is not advisable. Here’s an example of what we’ve done recently (special thanks to Mulysa at Dennis’ 7 Dees for hooking us up with the display area!):

Have fun taking advantage of the awesome spring growing conditions, and let us know if we can be of any help to you this season.