Spring seems to have come almost a month early to Central Louisiana. If you haven't already started, now is a good time to prepare your garden for spring planting. When the weather allows, consider doing some of the following chores to get ahead of the gardening game:
1. Determine the best site for new rows or raised beds that will get 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. Locate beds close to a water source and your tool storage area.
2. Use a turning fork or tiller and dig about 6-12 inches deep to open the soil up for air circulation and so that water can reach a plant's roots.
3. Add organic matter such as compost, dried sea kelp, composted manure, leaves, and/or grass clippings.
4. Use your fork and a garden rake to break down the soil further into a fine crumble. Remove clods of clay, stones, and weeds. Allow the bed to sit for a while before planting to let a first crop of weeds germinate-then hoe them out.
5. Your soil might also benefit from being amended before the season commences.
Clay soil stays wet, and can be improved with organic matter and possibly adding sharp sand
Sandy soil drains well, but needs more irrigation and regular feeding.
Soil pH is important-with the ideal for growing vegetables being 6.5, slightly acidic. Soil tests can be done through the LSU Ag center. They can advise you about natural materials to work into your soil to raise or lower the acidity. Soil pH is not constant and should be checked every couple of years.
6. Think about ways to conserve water, such as using a water tank or installing drip irrigation. Adding mulch helps conserves water. Pine straw and leaves serve make great mulch!
7. Make an inventory of your garden tools to ensure that you have exactly what you need to make your gardening experience enjoyable and worthwhile. For a list of essential tools, stop by the GFP demonstration garden for a handy guide!
Please join us at Good Food Project for more gardening and nutrition information!