Farmer cultivating land in the garden with hand tools

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Time to plant soon

Farmer cultivating land in the garden with hand tools

Even though it’s in the forties lately more often than the seventies it will be time soon to put in our annual plants. Flowers you can put out while it’s still chilly out but wait for steady temperatures above freezing for the vegetables. In the Chicago area that date is May 15th, but I have been waiting until the end of the month as the past few years we’ve had frost warnings. A hard frost will kill young vegetable plants. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

But we can certainly get things ready to plant. Get yourself a big bag of garden soil from the garden center. Dump the soil out of all your flower planters. It is best to start with fresh soil every year as it can get compacted, and it loses nutrients over the summer. You can use this soil in the vegetable garden or other places around the landscape that need soil buildup. Fill the containers halfway with the fresh soil, you will fill it in later when you plant. 

The garden needs a couple things to be ready to plant. If you haven’t already, gather up any plant material left over from last season. Dispose of it as you would other yard waste. It’s not good to compost this material as it can contain disease. Dig up any weeds and try and get as much of the root out as possible. This will cut down on weed production through the season. Use a handheld tiller to work the soil. Work down 6 inches. Now we need to cover up those weed seeds that we have churned up. First put down a good layer of mushroom or other compost. Next lay down a couple inches of regular topsoil. This will keep most of those weed seeds undercover. The topsoil will mingle with the compost for a great planting medium. When we actually put in the plants, we will add some garden soil around each vegetable.

Now we are ready! I purchase my plants as soon as they come to the garden center. You get the best selection, and you can keep them in the house, so they won’t be out in the elements at the garden center. They really get a head start in the warm house. I put the dining room table right next to a sunny window and rotate them daily.  

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago