"The best gardens are those that are tended with a light touch."
James Alexander-Sinclair, The Garden Magazine
The path to ideal spring weather is never a straight line. Like the journey to the Stanley Cup playoffs, there are some wins, losses and overtime contests that have to be had before we know where we stand. As my late father Len would say, it is all good, so long as you win a few more than you lose.
As we take this journey through the spring planting season, I am here to remind you of the most important garden activity of the year. The soil, in which all of your garden plants put down roots, needs attention.
As Oliver Twist once famously said to the bossy school monitor while on bended knee, empty plate in hand, "Please sir, I want some more?", your garden plants are asking the same this time of the year. The nutrients which all of the plants in your garden depend on for life are at the root zone and in the soil. There is no substitute for proper soil preparation this time of the year where garden health is concerned. Quote me on this anytime.
Monty, gardening columnist in The Garden magazine, has famously said, "The ground is alive in a scarcely comprehensible way." For example, there are more than four billion living organisms in the average handful of healthy soil. Beneficial bacteria, protozoa, nematodes, mites, beetles and countless insects make their home under our feet in the garden. They work together in a symbiotic cooperative that has the potential to produce a bounty of colour, fragrance, landscape structure and food. The magic is in how we manage it.
April is soil month around my place. I turn my compost, order a couple truckloads of the finished material and spread it over existing soil all in an effort to produce a foundation for this year's garden. My entire perennial bed [all ½ acre of it] receives a centimeter or two of 70% finished compost/30% sharp sand mixture. Vegetable beds [another acre] receive a more generous allotment of the same stuff.