Preparation is Key

Master gardener Larry Cipolla offers guidance for successful garden preparation.

It takes a good deal of preparation and patience to create a garden that you can be really proud of. Larry Cipolla, Hennepin County master gardener, has provided some handy advice for prepping and starting your garden in May. First, Cipolla says to map out your garden with exactly what will go where. He then suggests buying a soil test, which can be obtained from the University of Minnesota for $17. This will test your soil for nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Based on the results, you can purchase fertilizer that provides only what your natural soil lacks. You should turn your fertilizer into the soil about two weeks before planting. Then, if your soil is crumbly to the touch but not too wet, you are ready to plant your seeds! Cipolla suggests starting leafy greens and root crops in early May; plants like tomatoes and cucumbers can be planted nearer to the end of May. In general, cool-weather crops can be planted between mid-April and mid-May, and warm-weather crops between mid-May and mid-June. Cipolla believes gardening provides “a great connection between what you’re eating and how it’s grown, and a great connection to life.”