Gardening This Spring – April Showers
Looking to tackle some gardening this spring? Here are some things you can do to ensure a beautiful and fruitful season.
Test the Soil
Before you plant anything this spring, it’s a good idea to test the soil. In general, the soil in the Pacific Northwest is more acidic, a problem that can make harvesting a successful garden quite difficult. You can purchase a soil test kit from your local garden store or nursery to identify where you need to adjust the pH levels of your soil.
Using a scale of 1-14 where low numbers indicate a strong acidic concentration and high numbers indicate strong alkaline levels, make sure your pH level is slightly acidic (6.5) or neutral (7.0) for optimal spring planting. If the soil is too acidic you can treat with garden lime (alkaline) to increase pH levels—and if the soil has a high level of alkaline, garden sulfur will lower soil pH.
Plant Cold-Weather Vegetables
To prepare your soil for planting, apply about six to eight inches of vegetable garden on top of your existing soil to help promote a plentiful harvest. Dig down and till the soil, ensuring a good mix between vegetable garden and existing soil. Once you’ve done this, now you’re ready to plant!
There are many cold-weather tolerant vegetables that are safe for spring planting such as:
If you’re starting a new garden, pull out all plants and grass (be sure to take out plant roots). Turn the soil by digging up the garden area a couple of times with a shovel—12 inches should be plenty deep. With a little bit of vegetable garden, your soil should be ready for planting.
In the Pacific Northwest, spring is the perfect time to plant annual flowers such as sweet alyssum, calendula, or snapdragons. Flowers not only enhance the look of your garden, but they can also add pollination benefits. If you’re planting a vegetable garden, sweet alyssum and calendula work especially well for attracting pollinators (birdbaths and wooden logs work well in attracting pollinators too).
Other spring flowers that you can plant in your yard include:
- Annual Dianthus
- Dusty Miller
- Sweet William
Manage Weeds, Moss, & Bugs
Spring-cleaning is not only great for the house, but it’s also great for your yard. Cold weather can take a heavy toll on plants and trees, creating a mess of debris. If you’ve neglected your yard over the winter, you can quickly spruce things up by removing dead plants, weeds, and broken tree limbs or branches.
Moss is a common problem here in the Pacific Northwest, which is usually a sign that your yard may be too dark and or wet. You can eliminate moss by having more light in your yard. You can accomplish this by pruning to allow more sunlight to pass through dense, shaded areas.
For freshly planted gardens, you’ll want to ensure that you control the population of snails, slugs, and other bugs that can damage your plants. Organic snail bait or pet-safe iron-phosphate works well to help manage unwanted bugs. If you have pets or small children, be sure to scatter the snail bait (don’t clump it into piles) to reduce the risk of poisoning.
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