Preparing Your Garden for Spring Vegetable Planting

Some of my favorite garden vegetables are from the spring planting here in the Sandhills region. Lettuces, radishes, carrots and peas come to mind when I think of spring vegetables. There are many more vegetables that can thrive in your spring garden with just a little bit of planning and preparation.

If you planted your vegetable garden this fall with some type of cover crop you will need to till it under about the first week in January. This will give your garden time to break down some of the plant material before you actually begin planting. If you did not plant a cover crop, you can go ahead and till or turn over your garden now. If you have done a soil test on your garden you have a general idea of the pH of your soil and you can use this opportunity to put some lime out, if needed. Most of the native soil in our region has a relatively low pH. Even without a soil test you can rest assured that some application of lime will be needed if none has been made recently. Even though it can take as much as three to six months for the lime to react, this application of lime can adjust your pH for future plantings. If you are tilling your garden to prepare for planting this is the time to add any amendments such as compost. Depending upon the type of soil you have, organic matter can be added to help increase nutrient retention and water retention.

Once you have tilled, limed and added amendments you are ready to begin thinking about the design of your garden. The design is going to be determined by the type of vegetables you want to plant. If you plan to grow garden peas you will need some type of structure for them to twine and grow on. There are varieties that can be grown as bush type. Be sure to look for them when ordering if your garden is not big enough to support some type of structure. Planting seed crops such as carrots and radishes will require you to prepare a seedbed that is relatively smooth and debris free so these small seeds will germinate without difficulty. Other crops such as lettuces and broccoli can be purchased as small plants and will not be as particular as those of seeded crops.

There are many wonderful spring vegetable crops that we can grow here in the Sandhills. Ones that I have grown successfully in the past are potatoes, peas, carrots, radishes, lettuce, onions, kale, spinach, cabbage and kohlrabi. Others (that I have not been too successful with) are beets, cauliflower and rutabaga. That doesn’t mean you can’t grow them here – it means I need advice from those of you that have been successful! So, please, send me your secrets and I will be glad to share mine with you as well.

Happy gardening!

-Johanna Westmen

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