It’s Almost Spring Here In The Garden!

WOW! It’s almost spring here in the garden. I can’t believe it! Is it that time of year already??

I walked out to the gardens yesterday, and thought to myself, “holy moly, I have a LOT to start doing to get the gardens de-winterized and ready for Spring planting.” So here I am, writing out a list of everything I need to do over the next several weeks in the vegetable gardens, and figured I’d share it with all of you to serve up some inspiration.

First things first, here’s what the gardens look like now:

raised vegetable garden beds ready to plant
Raised Beds Ready To Plant

BUT, soon, the gardens will look like this:

lettuce harvested from vegetable garden with tomato plants in raised beds behind
Lettuce Harvest

Thriving, fruitful, and lush gardens in just a few short months. Seems impossible right?? Well, I’m here to tell you it is absolutely, 100000% doable!

So, what needs to be done to get them into tip-top shape and ready for planting? Easy, methodical steps that you can follow too. Spring is coming to the gardens, and I can’t wait!

Step One: Clean up the debris from the winter! 

Here in Enumclaw, we get a lot of rain, a lot of wind, and some snow mixed in too. This makes for quite the debris buildup in the beds and around the orchard that will need to be cleaned out. If you have a compost pile, go ahead and add the sticks, decaying leaves, and leftover bits from last year’s growing season to the pile. If you don’t have a compost pile, you can burn the debris or put it into your yard waste bins.

You will want to clear the beds down to the dirt and till the dirt some with a shovel or rake (only if you do not have spring bulbs already planted!). Break up any large chunks. This will loosen up the compacted dirt and allow it to dry out a bit, preventing moss and other microorganisms that grow in the wet winter weather from continuing to grow. Skip this step and you will have moss, fungus, and bacteria thriving in the dirt and harming your plants all season long!

woman in blue boots with garden fork working the soil in the vegetable garden
Till that dirt!

Step Two: Clean and prepare your garden tools!

Remember, It’s almost spring here in the garden and you’re getting ready! Now that you’ve cleaned out the beds and the areas around your perennial plants, the last thing you will want is to use dirty garden tools and transfer diseases, fungus, bacteria, or other organisms back into your garden. Cleaning your garden tools of last year’s dirt is an easy thing you can do to prevent the headache of fighting diseases in your garden throughout the season.

dirty rake and garden fork in the vegetable garden
Dirty Gardening Tools

Some things you can use to safely clean and prep your tools for the season include:

  • Mild, soapy water and a washrag to wash off dirt and dust
  • Steel wool (to scrub off the extra-caked on stuff!) You can find steel wool at any hardware store
  • Clean and condition the wood handles of your tools with some vegetable oil, and seal with a wood sealer. I like to use this one.
  • Sharpen any dull tools with a sharpening stone. I learned how to do this by watching this tutorial. You can also take your tools to get professionally sharpened, I recommend you ask your local nursery for recommendations on where to go for this.
  • I’ve started using this pocket blade sharpener, which is a professional garden tool for pruning shears, hedge scissors, and loppers. Don’t let the word “professional” in the name fool you! It’s really easy to use.
  • Lubricate! Apply lubricant to your shears, I use this brand.
  • Wipe down all tools with rubbing alcohol after each use to prevent pesky diseases from spreading.

sharpen garden tools for working in vegetable garden
Sharpening Garden Tools

Here’s a YouTube video that we used to learn how to keep the garden tools sharp.

Step Three: Prep your soil

Once the uncompacted soil has had some time to dry out, it is time to prep it for planting. You will know your soil is dry enough to work with when it forms a ball in your hand, then breaks apart upon pushing a finger into the ball. If the ball remains formed, you will need to wait a few more days to allow more drying time, then try again.

You will want good manure or compost to add to the dirt. We get our compost from a local vendor (support small businesses!), but you can also purchase compost soil bags at your local hardware store. When I buy compost, my top favorite brands are Black Gold Garden Compost Blend and Charlie’s Compost. Mix the compost into the soil with a rake or shovel. You don’t have to mix it into all of the dirt if your beds are deep, mixing it into the top 6 inches should suffice. Smooth and level out the dirt.

Step Four: Plan what plants you will want to plant

My number one recommendation for deciding on what plants to plant in your gardens would be to go to your local nursery and ask for some guidance. Nurseries are such a great resource to use, with knowledge of localized plant requirements, and what species of plants grow well in your area. Since it’s almost spring in the garden, they will start getting their veggie starts into stock.

You can also read more about what plants to plant in each Zone here at The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Or you can use my Garden Planting Calendar that is localized to your area by zip code. You can also print it out and take it with you when planning your garden.

Here in Enumclaw, we have our perennial plants in the orchard and grove, including our Apple, Pear, and Cherry trees, our blueberries, and our raspberries. These grow here very well!

In our raised beds, we plant tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, pumpkins, zucchini, squash, and beans. Some plants we have tried, and continue to try, but struggle with every year, include watermelons, cantaloupes, and peppers. I think our season is just too short and not warm enough for these plants here. But alas, we will continue to try!

two watermelons growing on vine
Baby Watermelons

Step Five: Get to planting!

As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended that you do not plant your seeds/starter plants until after the last frost. You can look at this chart to determine approximately what time-frame that might be. This date is calculated using an average over the last 30 years or so. Here in Enumclaw, that date is April 20th.

I like to buy my starter plants ~a week or so in advance of my plant-date to allow them to sit outside during the day and get acclimated to the temperatures and weather outside of the greenhouse. I bring them into the garage at night to protect them from the cold. This helps prevent them from going into shock when planted into the ground.

Seedlings getting used to outside
Veggie Starts

The seeds can get planted right into the dirt in your gardens after this date, so you can simply plant them as instructed, continue to water them as per the seed packet’s guidance, and you are good to go! Soon, you’ll have a beautiful garden producing more produce than you can even think to eat. What a great thing to share with your friends and neighbors!

It’s Almost Spring Here In the Garden, Get Ready!

vegetable garden in raised beds with pathways
The Vegetable Garden is Growing Beautifully

It’s almost spring here in the garden. It’s time to start to get the garden ready. Once you get started out there, you’ll have so much fun and won’t want to stop!

If you want to learn how to start your own seeds for the vegetable garden, read more here.