Get Your Garden Ready

By Jodi Helmer

With spring just around the corner, it’s not too early to start working in the garden.

* Add compost and nitrogen to soil to ensure vigorous plant growth. Blood meal, fish meal, alfalfa meal, soybean meal, and cottonseed meal are excellent organic nitrogen sources.
* Plant cold-weather veggies like peas, spinach, leaf lettuce, and radishes this month to allow them to germinate. “Seeds can be sown right into the soil, but protect them from the cold at night,” says Nicholas Mancini, a certified master gardener based in Connecticut. Cover them with blankets or pots.
* Pull weeds now—while roots are small and easy to yank—so they don’t take over later.
* Prune apple and pear trees while they’re still dormant to increase fruit yield this summer and fall—no chemical fertilizers necessary. Once leaves start to appear, it’s too late to prune.
* Reserve a community-garden spot if you don’t have a personal patch. Find a plot near you at