I woke up to another 3 inches of wet, heavy snow today. Regardless of the continued snowy precipitation, there is still a feeling of Spring in the air. The Spring equinox has come and gone, and while the large snowbanks on my gardens will take some more time to fully dissipate, I am beginning to feel the shift out of winter. Soon the wildlife will begin to emerge out of deep slumbers and the landscape will return to the greens and vast colors of the flora.
While there is plenty of planning to do for the upcoming season, I find myself yearning to get outside and start playing in the dirt. But like any seasoned gardener I know I need to be patient, and prepared for when this time comes. Now is a great time to start prepping and planning for Spring! Today we discuss our Spring to-do list for all gardeners.
- Clean out garden beds. While it’s better to remove annuals from the soil in the fall because of diseased plants and pests, perennials should be left to cleanup up in the spring, allowing beneficial pollinators and insects to over winter in your garden. Once you start to see plants wake up, or new green growth at the crown, give old growth a trim or “hair cut” leaving about 2 inches. Even better, if you are ok with a bit of a messier look, leave cuttings in your beds to break down and return into the soil. Prune broken and damaged branches off of trees and shrubs.
- Add 2 inches of locally made or organic compost to the top of your beds. You can also top dress your trees, shrubs, and turf. There has been a lot of research encouraging a “no till” method which means you skip the step of turning into your soil, and simply add to the top. You can release harmful carbons from the soil into the atmosphere and disrupt already established microorganisms and habits in the soil when tilling and turning.
- Start seeds inside. We have a shorter growing season here in the Colorado mountains, with our average last frost date being mid-June. Some crops like tomatoes with longer days to maturity can benefit from an extra 6-8 weeks of growth inside. Use clean seedling trays, fresh seed starting soil, and place in a sunny window or under a simple grow light.
- Clean out your pots, sanitize tools, and get organized. One of the first things I do each Spring before it’s safe to plant is to get clean and organized. Typically, by the end of the fall or previous season I’m racing a big snowstorm or too burnt out to properly clean and organize. Now is a great time to clean out your garden or potting sheds, garages, and storage spaces. Take inventory on what you have ready to go, what’s ready to be passed on to someone else, or what may need to be replaced. Give tools a good clean and sanitize and take sad tools to a local hardware store for sharpening and repair before they are too busy.
- Take inventory and start planning. Spring is a great time to come up with realistic goals and plans for the upcoming season. What worked for you last season? What didn’t work? Maybe you realized your small family didn’t truly need 6 large tomato plants, but you were running through your lettuce supply too quickly. Think about larger plants that may need to be divided, plants that weren’t quite thriving and may need a location change, and what spots of your garden could benefit from a facelift.
Living in the Colorado mountains has many great benefits, but waiting for our gardening season to truly start to bloom each Spring can be tough. Right when you think we are in the clear and safe to plant after a warm stretch, 3 feet of snow or an extension of the ski season says otherwise. Practice patience, stay busy, and set yourself up for upcoming success with these simple Spring to-dos.