Wake-Up Your Garden

Five steps to a robust growing season ahead

(Watch the video to follow along as Jack demonstrates the steps or read below for detailed notes. Enjoy!)

With spring around the corner, we offer all you home gardeners out there some time-tested tips from Jack Algiere, Vegetable Farm Manager at Stone Barns. Take these simple steps now to wake up your garden and prepare it for the turning of the season ahead.

1. Give the soil a massage. Take time to cultivate the surface of the garden beds, working the soil a few inches deep with a hand hoe or long-handled garden rake.  This is shallow cultivation, meant to remove debris and weeks and aerate the top few inches of the soil.

2. Serve up breakfast in bed. Apply compost to the surface of the beds to stimulate activity. The warmth and biology in the compost will invigorate the soil and allow it to respond well to transplants or seeds.

3. Pull away the sheets. Beds that will be planted early in the spring can be prepared and covered in the fall with straw. When you are ready to plant, remove the straw and shape the surface for planting.

4. Roll it over. Some crops such as carrots like to have good loose soil.  Digging deeply with an English fork or spade enlivens the lower depths and prepares them for planting root crops.

5. Set off the alarm. Another way to activate the system is to simply over-seed the surface of a bed that was prepared in fall.  Many crops such as bunching onion, mustard, spinach and lettuces can be seeded very early in the spring and will germinate when the temperature allows.  This gives them a head start over the weeds.

And remember to put your garden to bed with care in the fall so it can wake up wide-eyed and bushy-tailed next spring!

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