April is the time when our desire to be outside is at its peak! We love the outdoors in the cold brisk winter but when the spring finally arrives, we love to soak in some vitamin D (balanced with plenty of sunblock of course). One of the best ways to spend time in nature and become grounded with mother earth is to spend time in the garden. Here are a few simple tips for preparing for the perfect garden this growing season:
In early spring (when the weather allows):
- Clean out your garden. Just like your house, your garden needs spring cleaning as well. Remove the leftover leaves and weeds starting to grow (roots too of course) and sharpen your garden tools.
- Revitalize the soil. Similar to your skin, winter takes its toll on soil. It can often become dry, cracked and packed which makes spring a great time to add moisture and nutrients. We love to put our hard work from our vermiculture class to work. We use the worm castings as a very nutrient heavy fertilizer. We also start to work in organic materials like compost and manure.
- Use this time before the seeds (or seedlings) have been planted to shape and structure your garden. Build off of what worked in previous years and make sure to balance the soil with your planting plans in order to not deplete the soil. In planning the structure of our garden, we always like to utilize companion planting to plant vegetables, herbs and flowers that help each other AND act as natural pesticides. For example, planting basil near tomatoes, lettuce and carrots will improve the flavor AND act as a natural repellant to mosquitos. Planting borage close to strawberries, tomatoes and squash will enhance the flavor and growth of plants as well as act as a natural repellant to tomato worms.
- Prune your old plants (typically in April or May after any unexpected freeze periods pass). Blooming plants should be pruned right after they bloom to avoid cutting off future flowers. Proper pruning enhances the growth and health of your summer plants.
- Get grounded. Just like plants need the earth, humans benefit from the earth as well. There is increasing evidence that shows that “grounding” or “earthing” has immense benefits on our health, stress levels and ability to sleep well. As our lives become more “civilized” and less based in nature, our bodies begin to build up positive electrons (free radicals). Cell phones, fluorescent lights, rubber-soled shoes, concrete and more keep our direct contact with earth at a minimum and the positive electrons are constantly being added. Direct contact with the earth, which releases a negative charge helps to balance that out. Have you ever noticed that you sleep better on vacation after a walk on the beach or a catnap in a park? Now, if you see our gardeners barefoot, you will know why!
- To learn more about this concept, try reading these books: