Preparing for Spring - is your soil ready?
We’re still in the throes of winter as we speak, however in no time at all the darling buds of May will be raising from the ground and spring will be in full swing. So, getting ready now can really help plant the seeds for future successes. So, let’s look at the steps to get your garden in order for the longer days.
Though it is often too early to dig, you can always prepare. So, get those tools ready and begin to collect the items necessary for the long evenings of fun ahead. Of course, working on the soil too early is not advisable, heavy equipment and too much threading on the grass will cause problems. So, avoid the garden tool hire until later on.
Also if you do dig up clods they will end up baking into unbreakable lumps later on in the year. This will also be too heavy and won’t allow air into the soil when it is put back down later on. We are all aware that plant roots grow best in aerated soil and clumpy soil will cause problems here. So, don’t dig too early.
How do you know?
The best way to tell whether the soil is dry enough to work on is the age old test of the soil condition. Pick up a handful of soil and then clasp your hand and the soil together until it is a ball in your palm. Now, press the soil between your hands. If it shatters then it is dry enough to work on. You can also drop it from around waist height and if it breaks up then you have dry enough soil to dig. If it keeps its shape or breaks into solid sections then it is too wet to dig yet and you should wait for a few more weeks.
Different Soils and Moisture Levels
You will also notice that the clay soil that is too wet will stick on the tum and forefinger in a muddy consistency. This soil is over 75% moisture and should not be worked, as it may destroy the working soil for a whole season ahead.
If the soil is heavy clay it will form a ball when it is around half water. In the case of coarser or silt loam, it will form a ball at around 50% moisture but crumble when the content is low. It will be dark and pliable above this and most likely will stick to the fingers.
If you soil is coarse sand it will not form a ball at 50% moisture and even at 75% will be an easily shattered ball. The coarser the soil, the earlier it can be worked and the higher the moisture level it can be worked at.
When your soil is ready you can start preparing it for the season ahead and begin your long summer of gardening fun.
Cormac Reynolds writes for Best at Hire a UK hire company that provides tools for gardens and homes.