January 27, 2009
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.