PREPARE THE SOIL
Give those young, tender plants all the help you can to get them off to a healthy start. Begin by removing any debris that winter swept into the planting area.
Next, pull weeds and dispose of them. Yes, you can also compost them. Follow the instructions you’ll find online at epicgardening.com/composting-weeds.
Sift through the top few inches of soil and remove any rocks or other items that you find.
Amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure. Use about 2 inches and mix it into the top 6 inches of the soil. Finally, water the soil slowly and deeply.
HARDEN OFF YOUR PLANTS
“Hardening off” is the term used to describe the gradual acclimation of your seedlings to the outdoor environment. Begin the process two weeks before you want to plant them into the flower bed.
Find a shady spot outdoors, that’s protected from wind. Leave the plants outdoors in the chosen spot for an hour on the first day. Gradually increase the length of time they spend outdoors over the next week to two weeks.
If temperatures dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, bring the plants indoors.
You’ll also want to cut back on watering, but don’t allow the soil to completely dry. If you notice any wilting, water immediately.
LET’S GET PLANTING
Dig the planting holes to the same depth as the pot in which the plants are growing, but two times the width.
It’s important not to damage the main stem when you remove the plant from its pot. Place your hand over the top of the pot and then turn the pot over. It should slide right out but if it doesn’t, press gently around the sides of the pot and then tap on the bottom.
Place the roots of the plant into the hole and backfill with the soil you removed when digging. Finally, water slowly. This helps remove air pockets in the soil and settle it.
DON’T FORGET THE MULCH
Mulch is the workhorse of every garden. It helps regulate the soil’s temperature, it helps the soil retain water and discourages weed growth.
Organic mulches, such as shredded leaves, grass clippings, shredded bark or wood chips are ideal. These materials break down over time, adding nutrients to the soil.
There you go – your new spring flower bed. As long as you keep an eye on the moisture in the soil (don’t under- or over-water), you’ll have a blanket of color all season long.