ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Spring Garden Soil Preparation

Updated on June 3, 2021
JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

Gardening is my escape and my passion. Learn how to grow some vegetables right in your own backyard.

The flower of an okra plant
The flower of an okra plant

Preparing Your Backyard Garden for Spring Planting

It's the most wonderful time of the year - time to prep your garden for a great growing season. Let's go on a step-by-step journey of how our family gets ready to plant the vegetable garden, what we do to prep the soil, how we plan what to grow, and the timing of all those elements. Grab your garden gloves, tools and let's go!

Step 1 - Remove Remnants of Old Crops

Since your last harvest, your garden surface has sat through probable rain, snow, sleet and hail. Along with cold, fog, wind, and hopefully some sunshine. It has weeds in it, maybe some old crops you didn't ever pull up before the first frost hit, and the surface is lumpy (as noted in the picture). Let's start by clearing off the large stalks left from old tomato plants, mustard greens, okra stalks, and maybe even corn to create good, rich soil for your new plantings.

Do not throw these away as they make excellent material to shred and add to your compost pile.

When working the soil, try to stay off the soil as much as possible so you don't compress it; you want it as light and airy as possible. As a general rule we try to walk around our garden border to work but this is not always possible.

Step 2 - Turn the Soil By Hand

Our garden is framed by landscape timbers. We have St. Augustine grass that has runners that spread and grow. Unfortunately these runners jump the frame of our garden and creep in so at the beginning of growing season we have to rid them from the soil for a better composition of our dirt all growing season. We even pull some of them by hand to insure removal of grass and weed fragments.

I have to state here that my friend Allen helps me with my garden or I could not do all this by myself! He turned the whole 320 square foot garden by hand over the course of two days with a pitchfork.

black gold!
black gold!

Step 3 - Add Compost

We have a compost corner in our garden with several stages of compost working in each bin. This year we had the best compost we've ever had! What a treat it was to see that rich, black soil coming out of the bottom of our compost bins.

We like to add some of the compost to the second till to be worked in and then we use the remainder to either plant our crops with, or cover the seeds when planted - right on top of the seeds. The compost placed on top is quickly soaked into the garden upon the first watering. Think of all those organic nutrients heading down to join those new roots!

Step 4 - Till The Soil

If you don't have any winter crops growing, you are ready to till. Before you use the tiller, make sure it has the proper oil in it and you have gas that is not stale from sitting in a shed or garage all winter.

On the first pass, till all available space walking behind the tiller with some good boots or old tennis shoes on. Garden clogs on your feet are not advised here since you are running a machine.

Rototiller - Troy Bilt Models

We have had a Troy Bilt tiller for over 20 years. It is an essential tool for prepping your garden soil. They are available in varying sizes and power.

Step 5 - Till The Soil Again

After the first tilling, remove any large rocks you may have found, any large strings of grass, weeds or even trash. You are ready for the second pass. This time, as you till, try to walk in the space you are headed to next so you don't step on the newly tilled soil. This is challenging, but doable. If your soil is not smooth and clump-free, you may need a third pass at tilling. Established gardens with good soil usually need one or two passes.

Also, we like to leave a little ridge on the inside edge of the landscape timbers so the surrounding grass has less chance of creeping into the garden.

If you are new to gardening, the tilling process may require 3-4 passes, be patient, this will pay off when you see those first shoots coming out of the ground!

After tilling, even out the entire garden surface with a rake.

Garden Hoe

You'll need a hoe

to make good rows

before you go

to the last step of this show.

Step 6 - Ready to Plant!

When it comes to planting you should research what growing zone you live in and the type of seed varieties that do well in your zone. Check out the USDA version of the hardiness zone map to learn what zone you live in. Be aware that local home improvement stores don't always have the correct varieties of seedlings for your area. Try buying from a known local grower or farmer's market. The best thing you can do is be an informed buyer when it comes to seedlings.

Harvest Your Own Seeds

One method we have taken to is harvesting our own seeds from the previous years plants. Here is an example of how we harvested spinach seeds. Spinach does not grow well here when it gets warm or hot. Since the spinach was situated in an area of the garden that we did not need to remove it when it was finished producing (alongside other greens still growing - like swiss chard), we let it "go to seed". To do this you just let it flower and after flowering, it will produce seeds. When you are sure they are dry enough, gently pick the seeds (for spinach they are small and black) and drop them right off the plant into an envelope or container. When we planted spinach a few weeks ago, you guessed it! We used our own harvested seeds. This process is called seed saving.

Storing Your Seeds

The way you store your seeds from season to season is very important. They should be in a dry, cool place. We store ours in the freezer and have had great results with seeds several years old. Last year I used radish seeds from 2008 and they produced delicious results! Of course this doesn't always work, which is why you should have a back up seed packet ready.

Buying Your Seeds Early

Seed catalogs start arriving right after Christmas, and there's a reason why! The early bird gets the worm! Specialty varieties can run out if you don't order early and most of the time this means two weeks before you want to plant, but it doesn't hurt to plan ahead to get the seed variety you really want.

In almost every garden, the land is made better

and so is the gardener.

Robert Rodale

Where Do You Stand In The World of Gardening?

Where Do You Stand In The World Of Gardening?

See results

Did You Know...

...that one teaspoon of healthy garden soil has over

4 billion micro organisms in it?

Nature's Helpers - Worms

Earthworms break down organic matter in soil and leave behind castings which is a type of fertilizer that is essential to good compost or soil composition. If you have worms in your garden, keep them right there! It is a sign that you have good, fertile soil.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2013 Joanie Ruppel


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)