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Judging Soil Readiness

Soil is one of the most important elements of the garden, and judging its readiness will be vital to your plants. Preparing soil while it's too wet from snow and heavy rain can compact the soil, making it difficult for roots to grow. If the soil is too cold, some plants, especially tomatoes, are at risk for requiring a longer germination period. This puts plants at risk for disease and slow growth.

But how can you tell if your soil is ready? Take a handful of soil and pack it together. If the ball of soil breaks apart easily when you drop it, it's ready for gardening. If it's too difficult to break or it plops when you drop it, the soil is still too wet.

When the soil is ready, it's time to start prepping for spring. Pull any weeds that grew over winter, add fertilizer and turn the soil. Be careful while working the soil. Seeds from weeds can be distributed while tilling, so don't overdo it.

If you had your soil tested in the fall, add any elements that were missing. Remember to think of your garden as a whole; don't add too much of any one thing. You can also add organic matter such as compost that can help soil structure, water storage, microorganism life and more.

When spring arrives, you can feel good, knowing your seeds and transplants are going into well-prepared soil.

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