Neglected Garden Preparation - Knowledgebase Question

Minneapolis, MN
Question by crystal_glyn
February 24, 1998
The garden beds are in a horrible overgrown mess, full of thistles and weeds. The weather has been warm. Can I get a jump start on preparing the beds for our planned vegetable and flower gardens? Is it too early to dig out the beds, cultivate, and add manure, etc.? Will it make a difference if I have a soil test done during winter, or should I wait for spring?


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Answer from NGA
February 24, 1998

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As long as your soil is dry enough to work, you can go at it when the weather is comfortable enough for you to be outdoors. Take a handfull of soil and squeeze it. If water drips out, it's too wet to work. If it stays in a ball, it should crumble when you push it with your finger. Don't work soil that's too wet or you'll end up with large clods in your finished beds. If all goes well with the test, go ahead and add organic matter to prepare for planting.

Soil tests can be done at any time of year. Take a clean bucket and go around your garden spot, taking random trowel-fulls of soil from different spots at different depths. Take 10 samples in all. Mix them all together in the bucket and then take one cup of the soil, spread it out on newspaper and let it air dry. Put the sample in the soil test bag and take or mail it to the lab for results.

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