By Judy Bernard, Master Gardener
It’s spring. You’ve got a lot of the clean-up well underway. You’re starting to look at your annual and vegetable beds to get them ready for bedding plants and seeds.
If you work the soil too early, it could be too wet and end up compacted. To test if it is time to prepare the soil, pick up a hand full and squeeze it into a ball. Then drop the ball from a height of about a meter or break it up with your fingers. If it shatters readily then it is ready to be worked. If it stays in clumps, then it is too wet and you need to wait a bit.
Can’t wait? Use a large flat board or two to step on. Move them around as you work. The board will distribute your weight and not compact the soil as much.
Remove any weeds that have sprouted over the winter.
If the soil is nice and light and easy to dig into, then all you need to do is add a good layer of compost and let the worms in the soil do the mixing for you. A healthy soil is moist, dark and crumbly with lots of organic matter. Compost is is full of all of the the nutrients the plants need which are released as the plants need them.
Mulch the soil with some straw for the vegetable beds or shredded bark for the flower beds. This will discourage weeds and conserve moisture in the soil until it is time to plant. All you will need to do is to pull the mulch back, plant your plants, and put the mulch back in place.
For more information about soil check out this site: