Spring soil can be spongy

Mon. Mar. 20, 2017

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Spring soil can be spongy


While it’s simply a day on the calendar to some, the Spring Equinox starts a new gardening season in the minds of many.  Astronomically speaking, the Vernal Equinox happened at 5:28 this morning in the northern hemisphere, central time!  The March equinox marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north and vice versa in September.  It’s also the moment, I go out and do my happy dance.

Mother Nature will do as she will and that means we need to be careful of spring soil.  Watch for heaving plants!

We’ve seen peeks of green erupting from the soil and snowdrops and crocuses and even a tiny little iris said hello at a friends house!  spring iris

Still… that doesn’t mean we should get out there and start raking our lawn or digging into our gardens.  Grass roots are tender and early raking could damage your lawn more than help it!  Moist soil is fine, soggy is not.

tilling wet soil

tilling wet soil

If you want to start preparing your garden beds for planting of any type, you really need to make sure the soil is workable.  Don’t mess with wet soil, you’ll create dirt clods that plants don’t like to grow in, you can’t break up easily and could potentially compact your soil for a long time to come.

dirt clods

dirt clods

Forget about tilling, put down the shovel and trowel and back away…  I know the urge is strong but working wet soil will pack soil particles tightly together leaving less room for air and water to penetrate.  Two very important ingredients to plant production!

Adding blend of compost and soil

Those dirt clods you create become hard as rocks and are nearly impossible to break up.  If you compact your soil like that it takes years of adding organic matter to try to recreate the healthy soil your plants love.  To check if your soil is workable, dig one trowel full of soil, squeeze it in your hands, if it crumbles easily, then you’re good to go.  If it forms a ball, then go inside and sketch your garden on paper!

soil squeeze

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