Planting timing

Asked March 18, 2019, 1:05 PM EDT

Hi, I am planning my summer garden, and some of the instructions for different plants say to plant, “when the soil can be worked in the spring.” What does that translate to? I can certainly dig my soil now, but it will probably still freeze overnight. Thanks!

Baltimore Maryland

1 Response

Hi- that phrase typically refers to the condition or tilth of the soil (how easily it can be prepared as a seedbed) and not to weather. That specific phrase usually refers to cool season crops that could go be planted sometime between late March and late April. Of course, that depends on weather conditions that can change dramatically so you have to be prepared to cover / protect plants.

"Soil can be worked" when it is sufficiently dry. If you grab a handful and squeeze it it should break apart into small pieces (known as crumbs or aggregates) when you bounce it up and down in your hand. Soil that is not too wet and has a high organic matter content will fluff up when raked with a metal rake or when you push a garden fork into it and gently rock the soil (don't flip it over). You may need to remove those winter annual weeds before planting. jt