Now is the Time to Plant Your Cool Weather Garden
It’s time to finish preparations and begin planting your spring garden. Many vegetables favor cool spring weather and allow you to start your garden early. But first, you need to examine your garden soil. It is generally recommended that soil tests be conducted every 3 years for vegetable gardens. Even without a formal soil test, it’s important to prep your soil by removing any plant debris and adding organic matter and compost to your soil (see February Vegetable Gardening for more information).
If you don’t maintain compost piles at your home garden, leaf mulch, and sometimes compost are available at county mulch centers in both Arlington County and the City of Alexandria. Other soil amendments available from most garden centers include vermiculite and coco coir (as an alternative to peat moss) among other amendments (e.g., manure, lime, gypsum). More tips for building healthy soil are available from VCE.
Timing is everything as you prepare to plant, and gardeners have many references available to guide them in their decision-making regarding when to plant some plants and whether to sow seeds directly or to start seedlings beforehand. Here are some planting guides for our area:
- VA Cooperative Extension Home Garden Vegetable Planting Guide
- The Urban Gardener (English, Spanish)
These recorded VCE/MGNV classes will be of special interest:
- Edible Landscaping
- Seeds: Selecting and Starting
- Vegetable Gardening Without Fear, 2022
- Vegetable Garden Design for Success
Consider building raised growing beds to improve drainage, soil health, and plant growth. Research has shown that raising beds yields more produce than other garden methods. More information on raised beds can be found found in these publications: Intensive Gardening Methods and Water Management for Raised-bed Gardens.