Tips for South Okanagan residents to prep their gardens for spring planting

Get your garden spring-set

Casey Richardson

“It’s perfect weather for getting outside and getting into the garden.”

Gardeners in the South Okanagan are itching to start planting, and with the warm weather projected to continue throughout the next week, Pentictonites are looking for a reason to get their hands in the dirt.

Plant specialist Scott Austin with GardenWorks, said the increased interest in developing a green thumb has been evident in the community for the past year, and while people want to get going, now is the time to focus on preparation.

“This year people are really, really anxious to get out and get outside and start doing things in the garden,” Austin said.

“Anything that you can do now to get that cleanup done and get everything ready, you can get your plants in and get it all done and then July and August, you’re sitting in your back garden with a nice glass of Gewurztraminer and enjoying it.”

It’s a little early to begin direct seeding, but Austin said soon the cool season crops could be placed in the ground as long as the soil is dry enough.

“Take a fistful and squeeze it together, if it falls apart when you poke it with your finger, you should be good to go.”

Working on your lawn can go ahead as long as it isn’t still a bit squishy underneath, otherwise wait for it to dry out and then begin raking.

It’s also a good time for pruning to get the garden ready, as long as it’s not spring blooms.

“Something that blooms in the spring is blooming on last years wood...but pruning, certainly clean up. I see a lot of people cleaning up their ornamental grasses and their flower beds which is fine if your soil is dry enough.”

The main suggestion he has is to plan and get what you want in your garden early.

“Demand for our product is very, very strong, and suppliers are having trouble keeping up,” Austin said. “Don’t say I’ll come down in May and pick them up, they may not be there. We hope that they are but they may not be just with the way the past year has gone."

If you really want to plant something immediately, Austin suggests planting some flower bulbs that do alright with a bit of frost, like daffodils and pansies, that will give your garden some early colour to enjoy.

And for those first-time gardeners, here are some tips to cultivate your green thumb.

“Just focus on the things that you like to grow,” he said. “Most of the garden vegetables, I’d say 90 per cent of them are really really easy, even for first-timers. If it doesn’t work out the first time, gardeners are nothing but stubborn, just keep trying until we get it right.”

Whether it’s fresh veggies or a collection of flowers you’re after, the key planting time with be coming in the next three to five weeks to get the garden going.

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