Preparing Your Garden

These tips will help ensure lively plants.

Warm weather brings budding trees and flowering plants, and who doesn’t want to feel the pride of taking care of a lovely garden? Before you can harvest tomatoes or bring geraniums outdoors, you’ll need to make sure your soil and supplies are all in order.

“Make sure you start by raking the ground to remove debris from the fall. You’ll also want to till the ground and add in organic composts or fertilizers,” says Jason Schimke, assistant manager at Bachman’s in Plymouth.

You could also take a soil sample to find nutrient deficiencies to better target what your plants need. If you don’t want to take the time for that, you may instead choose to pick a fertilizer chemically balanced for vegetables, flowers, or whatever  you’re growing, Schimke says.

After prepping the garden, be sure to wait for the weather to be warm enough to prevent a frost from killing your plants. “In the Twin Cities, the rule of thumb is the weekend after Mother’s Day,” Schimke says. “Mother’s Day is later this year, so your planting might get pushed back a few days.”

Once you’re ready to plant, watch out for three common mistakes. “People are either watering too little or too much. You have to find the balance,” says Schimke. Second, when planting, know how large the plant will be at maturity and space the seeds apart accordingly. “Tomatoes often get bushy, for example, so give them about 2 feet of space to work with.” Finally, make sure you have high-quality tools, including pruners, to keep your plants under control.