While we’re currently locked in the dead of winter, spring is only a couple months away and with it comes warmer weather, pops of greenery, and a long list of things to get done in the garden. Luckily, there’s no need to wait. You can (and should) get started on your to do list today. Here are a few tips to help your green thumb get off on the right foot.
If you aren’t yet composting, now is a good time to start. After all, healthy plants start at their roots and compost is filled with the nutrients they need. You will need a good amount of compost in the spring to add to the soil before planting and it will take several weeks to create enough material to use. Good Housekeeping has this great article on how to start composting. For collecting kitchen scraps, we recommend a countertop pail with a charcoal filter to help prevent odors, like this one. Don’t have enough space in your yard to build your own compost pile? Some Bay Area cities partner with waste management companies to offer free compost for residents. Check with your city for more information.
Now that your garden is dormant, the leaves have fallen away, and the branches are bare, you’re able to see what you’ll be working with this spring. Look for areas of erosion that will need to be fixed before planting. Have roots pushed up a cement walkway or are they getting uncomfortably close to your home’s foundation? Address them now before they cause serious issues. Also be on the lookout for damage that your plants and trees sustained over the past year, like split branches or damage from pests.
For many shrubs and trees that bloom on new wood, this is the time of year to do your pruning. Roses, crepe myrtles and wisteria — all very popular in the Bay Area — are great examples. Cutting them back and shaping them now will prepare them for a productive spring and a vibrant display of blossoms. Avoid pruning anything that blooms on old wood or that established flowerbuds in summer or fall like azaleas and gardenias. If you have any doubt on when to prune what, always double check before cutting.
You won’t have success in the garden without a plan. First thing’s first — know your plant hardiness zone. Most of the East Bay is in zone 9 or 10, but you can look up your zip code here to find out specifically. From there, do your research on the plants you’re considering. Pay particular attention to requirements for sunshine and space, which will help determine what will go where. As an example, both tomatoes and squash require full sun, but squash needs twice the amount of space as tomatoes. If space in the sun is limited, tomatoes may be the way to go. Lastly, reference a planting calendar for your grow zone so you know when to plant what you’ve chosen. Not everything will need to go into the ground at the same time.
Time to get your hands dirty! Believe it or not, you can already get started on some of your planting now. Many plants can be started indoors this time of year for planting in spring, particularly hardy vegetables like onions, potatoes, artichokes, and some lettuces. But this is where your plant hardiness zone calendar comes in. You’ll want to refer to it to make sure you get the timing right. As an example, Tomatoes can be planted indoors now in zone 9, but you may want to wait a couple months if you’re in zone 10.
If you’re like us, you’re staring out the window at the gloomy sky and already dreaming of spring. There’s nothing quite like the beauty of a garden in full bloom. Need help getting the rest of your winter interior and exterior to do list done? Sign up or schedule a visit today!