Eric here. Spring is technically here and Summer is near. By now, I am assuming you already have your seeds and crops planned for the early spring plantings. On my farm we rotate a number of crops during the spring and those include Golden Beets, Spinach, Lettuce, Radishes, and of course, Microgreens.
In this blog post I will be going over what I think everybody should consider with the onset of spring.
The Spring Equinox, or March Equinox, falls on Tuesday, March 20th of 2018.
This is the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere so enjoy the quickly changing season as everything greens for our visual pleasures. With this equinox, we will experience increasing sunlight hours, earlier dawns, and later sunsets.
This time of season is often the last chance to finish our farm projects and construction for the season. With that in mind, I will now tell you of some things to consider before spring reaches full swing!
1. Clear up beds, borders and compost bins.
It’s warming up so it’s time to get dirty. here are some great tasks to start filling your garden to-do lists with early spring, every season.
Clear and remove leaves and debris from flower borders, ponds, and lawns.
Compost your grass, leaves, and any animal manure you have on hand. You are about to need it! If your ground is workable, consider forking empty beds and ammending early-season fertilizer such as well-aged chicken manure, cow manure, and well-rotted compost from the previous year. Any new compost from fall to present, will not have broken down or rotted well enough to be used and can burn crops!
I highly recommend using a compost thermometer so you can monitor when your compost pile is ready to turn, and/or use. I will attach a link to find one, for whatever your set up is. I haul mine out in this large cart and I have a 2 bin system. Once it’s begun to rot, I will put it into the soil maker bin and water it once a week or less. I also use a manure fork to turn it.
2. Ordering Summer Bulbs and Seeds
Now is the perfect time to order seeds and summer-blooming bulbs to be planted and grown over the summer and into the beginning of fall. It’s not too late to order Spinach and Radish seed as they in the heat as well but you want to start them early spring.
3. Outfit Your Greenhouse
Wash out and clean your greenhouse before Spring winds up. You will be neck deep in dirty trays, starts, cuttings, and plant debris so now is the perfect time to sweep up and clean house in the Greenhouse. Dry well with ventilation.
4. Soil Mixtures, Liquid Fertilizer, and Preparations
On the farm we use a few different products and a few different potting mixes.
We make all of our own seedling mix, our own potting mix, and we only use liquid fertilizer for feeding our plants directly. Dry fertilizer mixes offer less control to the grower and are longer time to break down, which will take longer for plants to receive nutrients. Dry fertilizers are also dusty and messy and need a mask to be applied, unlike liquid fertilizer. We tend to use dry fertilizer (chicken manure) when amending soil in beds for an overall change in soil composition and nutrient quality over time. Particularly early season, or between plantings.
Make your potting mixes, mix your fertilizers, and clean your trays.
5. Clean Trays and Tools
Cleaning rusty tools is simple. Soak in baking soda and vinegar overnight, scrub with steel wool. Use boiled linseed oil to preserve and improve the tools vigor.
6. Identify Pests
Hunting down and removing hibernating pests can and will save you a lot of time come mid-season. Look around the perennials for slugs, aphids colonies, or snails. Drop pests into a bucket of soapy water and they will break the surface tension and sink. Remove them from the property now so you don’t have to waste anytime during critical times during the season. Below are some books, and exactly what I use to catch up pests and remove them. There are a lot of natural pest deterring strategies to implement from within the book. For example, buying Ladybugs for the property to compete with Aphids, causing them to leave for good instead of spraying harmful pesticides, which as an organic gardener, I ALWAYS ADVISE AGAINST. Never spray harmful chemicals near your food or anything living. These harmful chemicals are proving to cause great harm in humans, especially children, plants, and animal lives.
7. Fix Fences, Gates and Trellises
Since traffic will increase, and you will be using these sooner rather than later, go ahead and break out the drill and fix everything up before mid-season. It may go without say, but you won’t want collapsing fruit when your first succession is trying to grow up faulty infrastructure.
8. Properly Equip Your Tool Shed
I can’t stress this enough, use the right stuff. I have been cooking for a few years and I have only been gardening seriously for about a year. This rings true for both professions, using the appropriate technology and not over killing every project with technicality. Be ready and create a plan, even if you know it’s just the first sketch of the big picture. Here are a few things you will surely want to have on-hand before the season begins.