“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
―Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard’s Egg
I don’t know that I find anything more energizing than seeing the first daffodils emerge, a sign that spring has surely arrived.
…The cool mornings and warm afternoon breezes, the drizzly mornings, the sunny afternoons, the grass awakening to a vivid green, the red buds, the dogwoods, the cherries….Spring is my soul medicine.
It’s hard for me to not want to skip out of my job and spend my days barefoot gardening, and my nights cleaning out and organizing my home. Spring is a time to start fresh and allow yourself, and your garden, to grow, flourish, and fruit.
By now you have hopefully prepared your beds, if not, it’s never too late…maybe. You can now focus on the health of your soil and your spring, summer, and fall garden plan. Planning ahead allows you to reap a continuous harvest, and avoid a lot of frustration and confusion.
Compost is key to soil health, and you should consider adding about a 2″ application over your beds and incorporating it 6″ deep into the soil. There are many sources of compost.
You can get fully composted animal manures, mushroom compost (though this may be laden with harmful chemicals if not organic), make your own compost from kitchen scraps and waste, etc.
I find that making compost is the best source. For one, it’s pretty much free. Secondly, you know what is in it. And lastly, you help keep all those kitchen scraps from ending up in a landfill and leaking methane gases into the atmosphere.
Spring time, to me, smells like soil. The bacteria are kicking into full-drive, as they decompose matter to create fertile, earthy goodness. You can tell the health of your soil from smelling, feeling, and looking at it.
Healthy soil should form a ball that can be broken by the light push of the finger. It should smell like the forest floor, and it should be dark with very few large clumps.
If you find that your soil is heavy in clay (in Polk County??….neevveerr). Adding compost, over the years will help to fix some of the problems associated with heavy clay soils. Clay soil tends to hold onto too much water, hinders root development, causes caking of the top layer, and decreases the ability of plants to absorb certain nutrients.
Compost improves aeration, drainage, soil texture, organic matter content, and bacteria in the soil. Over time it increases the fertility of the soil, allowing you to grow healthy plants with minimal input.
This blog was just a taste of the gardening information out there. The best way to learn to garden, is to garden. Let your mistakes teach you, find what works best for your space and time, experiment, and most of all, delight in your successes.
A great website that has helped me a lot is organicgardening.com.
A good book for a quick reference is the Rodales’ Complete Guide to Organic Gardening. Don’t let the size fool you. This big book has short informational blurbs on almost anything you could think of. My mom gave me her copy, and for that reason, I love it most of all.
So, as you shed away the winter blues and begin to work your garden, be sure to acknowledge the joy it brings you, and share this with those around you.
Happy Spring to you!
Feel free to email me with questions: