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When is Soil Ready for Planting?

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When is your garden soil ready for planting? Here are some tips from The Old Farmer's Almanac.

  • Grab a handful of your garden soil. If you can form it into a ball, the soil is too wet for planting. (Chances are the seeds will rot.) If it crumbles through your fingers, it's ready for planting.
  • Here's another soil test. Make a ball of soil and drop it. If the ball crumbles, your garden is ready for seeds. If it holds its shape or breaks into two clumps, it's still too wet for planting.
  • You can also step into the garden and then step back and look at the footprint you've left in the soil. If it's shiny, then there's too much water near the soil's surface to dig and plant. If it's dull, then excess water has drained away and it's time to plant.
  • Old farmers had an even easier guideline: When the weeds start to grow in your garden, it's time to plant your hardy vegetables.
  • See our Best Dates for Planting Seeds chart and check the approximate safe planting days for your area.

As soon as the soil is ready for planting, stir it well and let it sit for several days. Then top-dress it with compost or well-rotted manure and get to work.

Need to improve your soil? See tips on soil fixes and amendments.
Do you use manure? Find out when to spread what. Click here for our Manure Guide.


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For years, I have purchased

By Robin Lea

For years, I have purchased the annual edition of the Gardening Almanac. Since the close of my local Borders store last year, I can't find it anywhere! Is it out of publication? Please advise.

Hi, Robin, Thanks for your

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Robin, Thanks for your interest! We're not sure of your location, but you can usually find the Garden Guide at Walmart, Lowes, Barnes & Noble, Target, Home Depot and many supermarkets. Also, you can always find online in our store! Here's the link: http://www.almanac.com/product/all-seasons-garden-guide-2012

How about using the soil for

By ellechanning

How about using the soil for indoor pots to begin plants?

Can amyone recommend how much

By huntnfish61

Can amyone recommend how much triple 13 fertilizer to use in a garden spot that has sandy/clay soil? A garden approximately 50' x 25'.

I am trying to find your

By Carolyn Snowdon

I am trying to find your guide as to when is the best planting dates for my plants in the central Texas area.

Hi Carolyn, we have pages on

By Almanac Staff

Hi Carolyn, we have pages on certain popular flowers and shrubs listed here: http://www.almanac.com/content/plant-guide-flowers-shrubs Each page has planting and growing instructions and a dose of Almanac wit and wisdom. If you are looking for vegetable, fruit or herb pages, you can find them here: http://www.almanac.com/content/plant-guide-vegetables-herbs-fruit

Here's a chart put out by

By Cindy Meredith

Here's a chart put out by Aggie Hort: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/PLANTanswers/earthkind/ekgarden14.html

It has dates for all regions in TX.

Happy Gardening!

what happened to the annual

By Nan Maka

what happened to the annual planting guide? i can't find it this year. thanks

Hi Nan, Have you checked out

By Almanac Staff

Hi Nan, Have you checked out our "Starting Your Garden" page? http://www.almanac.com/topics/gardening/starting-your-garden Here you will find frost dates, growing guides for vegetables and herbs (including when to start seeds, when to water, and when to fertilize), hardiness zone information and tips for transplanting.

you had a chart when is the

By Dan Boomershine

you had a chart when is the best time to plant my garden and in what areas by zones I'm in central Iowa

2015 Special Edition Garden GuideCooking Fresh with The Old Farmer's AlmanacThe Almanac Monthly Digital MagazineWhat the heck is a Garden Hod?