Despite the recent late-winter storm, Toronto gardeners should be getting ready to don their galoshes and gloves to head out into their gardens to begin the yearly planting prep. Whether you prefer flowers to vegetables, getting your beds ready for planting is a crucial step that cannot be overlooked if you want a successful season. Below is a list of things to do to get the most out of your garden.
As simple as this sounds, the first step to any good gardening experience is to clean up the debris left behind from the previous year so you can properly take stock of what needs to be done. This step includes pruning your hedges and bushes into the proper shapes, cutting back low hanging branches on trees and raking up leaves, pine cones, dried grasses, etc…
Next up is assessing your garden and what needs to be done. Are the perennials growing in the right place? Do some need to be transplanted elsewhere? Are some overgrown and need to be removed? Do you need to start another bed? Do you want to raise your vegetable bed? These are all questions that need to be answered before you can proceed with any plans. Taking careful stock of what you have in your garden and whether it is still working will help you to better plan what you plant and where you plant it.
Over winter soil gets compacted. Before planting, turn the soil in your garden to loosen it. Now is also a good time to add whatever compounds your soil might be missing – whether it is fertilizer, calcium, mulch or just more earth. Preparing your soil will guarantee a successful and growing season.
Check and clean your tools
Every good gardener will take care to clean and care for their tools properly. Dirty tools can spread any bacteria or fungus from the prior year to this year’s garden. Furthermore, any contaminant it might have picked up over the winter could still be attached to it, so giving them a good cleaning is the right way to start off any new season.
Plan your plants!
Yes, you might already have plants growing in your garden, but unless you actively plan your garden every year, your perennials will take over. Unplanned gardens can definitely look great – as long as all of the plants are growing in the right place. If you have smaller plants at the back and taller plants in the front, the effect that could have been created will be lost. Instead, make sure that your plant sizes are appropriate next to each other and that smaller varietals are near the front of your beds. If you are unsure of how to go about planning your garden, there are several interesting websites that can guide you through this process.
To plant successfully you must wait until the weather will no longer dip below freezing. Seedlings are delicate and need consistently mild weather to thrive. Don’t make the mistake of planting too early. Usually the rule-of-thumb for Toronto gardeners is to plant on Victoria Day weekend. The long weekend usually signals the start of the growing season – anything earlier and you run the risk of a late season frost that could harm your plants.