Preparing Your Spring Garden

Last weekend in Westport, CT I attended one of Terrain’s Coffee and Conversation Events: Preparing the Spring Garden. I was there to get the real “dirt” on how to prepare my garden. Angela Truck, who is their Exterior Design Specialist, lead the conversation. As I have found from the other Coffee and Conversations, she has a wealth of knowledge and information. I learn something new every time.

By getting your soil tested, you are laying the foundation for your garden for the rest of the season.
~ Angela Truck, Terrain

What I learned most this time was about getting my soil tested. I must admit that I have known I should get it tested, but I have never done it in the twelve years I have gardened in Vermont. Angela said, “by getting your soil tested, you are laying the foundation for your garden for the rest of the season.” Spring or fall are the best times to test it, giving you time to amend your soil.

Preparing Your Spring Garden

6 Steps for testing the soil and preparing your spring garden:

  1. Clean your supplies: spade, bucket, trowel, Ziploc bag and Sharpie pen (or soil testing kit).
  2. Use your spade to clean any debris such as mulch, leaves, etc, from the sample area.
  3. Using your trowel, dig about 6-8” deep and put a sample of dirt in the bucket.
  4. You will want to get samples from at least three to five different areas in your garden. Then mix the dirt together in the bucket. Note: if you have numerous separate gardens, you may want to test each garden separately.
  5. Put a pint of the mixed dirt into a Ziplock bag or the soil testing kit. Note: if the dirt is wet or damp, dry it on a newspaper before packaging. Mark it with a specific name for that garden: Patio Garden, Cutting Garden, Shade Garden, Lawn, etc.
  6. Mail off your sample to your local university or soil testing place. There are many place to get your soil tested including Lowe’s and Home Depot.

Once you receive the results of the test, it will include recommendations on how to amend your dirt, such as adding specific types and amounts of fertilizer at ideal times. It’s all about a balanced pH. For perennial gardens, you want to have 6-7.5 pH (the measure of acidity/alkaline). All flowers have different needs, but this number gives a good balance for your plants. You don’t need to know a lot about pH in order to amend your soil. All you need to do is follow their recommendations to get your dirt and garden balanced again.

Preparing Your Spring Garden

So, let’s get our soil tested and have the most wonderful gardens we could ever dream of! I will, though, have to wait for the snow to melt and the ground to soften, but I’m excited to see where this will take my gardens.

Share with me below: What benefits have you found from testing your soil?

The featured image at the top of this post was photographed @ Berkshire Botanical Garden.

P.S. If you have never been to Terrain, I highly recommend going there. I have been to both the one in Westport, CT and the original Terrain in Glen Mills, PA. They are both so unique. I could spend all day there wandering through their garden center and store. Both have everything from home, kitchen, personal care and gifts along with lovely restaurants. There are other locations in Walnut Creek, CA and Palo Alto, CA too.

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