We hit 70 degrees in February and most of us in Wisconsin started acting like confused bears coming out of hibernation too soon. Usually, we aren’t seeing these temperatures until May with any consistency. Sure, you’ll get a good weekend here and there in March and April. But, we have seen snow on Mother’s Day, so cool your jets on flip flops and shorts! Regardless, every year around this time, people start wondering if it’s time to prep the garden. Here’s our view on when to start.
The Garden Soil Test
Don’t work the dirt/soil too early. It will lead to a bad growing season. As any farmer will tell you, the saturated ground needs to dry as you don’t want to turn soil and create clods that clump up the plant roots. The simple test to see if your garden dirt is ready: grab a clump of dirt, form it into a ball and if it breaks easily when dropped to the ground, the soil is dry enough to be worked. If you work the soil when it is too wet, 75% to 100% moisture, it will be spoiled for the whole season.
What to Do in the Garden in March
Since the soil will still have moisture issues and you don’t want to turn it, do the basics: clean the debris, prep the garden tools, and plan the planting. Once all the snow is gone (and it is when we wrote this blog, but there’s a few inches predicted for the weekend), rake out the old junk you missed at fall cleaning. This means all the old branches and leaves and other debris. Bulbs are going to start popping up in a few weeks. Some might have already with the warmth, but they will slow down with the cold that we will get.
If you have mineral spirits, clean those wooden garden tool handles so they won’t splinter on you and use soap and water for the tools themselves.
Zone the garden based on what you want to grow and when. Plan on height and sun position as well as colors.
You have some time before garden prep starts. We hope you enjoyed the warm weather. Get ready for some more cold!