It is mid-February here in my balmy zone 8. Last year at this time, my uncovered beds were full of thick ice from the repeating snow falls and melts. Today started with frost, but it turned into clear blue skies with no evidence of any recent snow. I took this as a sign that I should plant my first raised bed. Thankfully, I planned ahead and I already had one amended!
One of the most important lessons that I have learned in gardening over the years is "you can't cheat the system." Your soil needs to be amended every year, sometimes multiple times per year. If you don't do this, your plants will know and they will crush your dreams of a bountiful harvest. I have fallen into the trap, more than once (fool me twice, shame on me), of trying to get my seeds in the ground at the earliest possible moment in the season. And sometimes a spell of good weather will entice me outside before I've even had the chance to prepare my beds. DON'T DO IT! Without good soil structure and plentiful nutrients, your crop will flop. It is so disappointing to watch your seeds germinate (or not) and fail to grow properly. While thinking you'll get earlier harvests, you will in fact be set back because you'll have to return to square one and amend your soil and replant your seeds. I've been there, done that.
This year, I have amended the soil in my raised beds with aged, well-rotted/composted mushroom manure. I also have amended a dozen of my large containers with mushroom manure, leftover/used organic potting mix, and organic top soil. Thankfully, I have nurseries in my area that sell in bulk. If you ask in advance, you can bring your own reused bags, containers, and bins to refill so that you don't have to buy pre-bagged stuff. Try calling around. You may be surprised that you can buy smaller amounts without collecting a bunch of heavy-weight plastic soil plastic bags.
Also, I should add, one of my favourite new garden tool investments that I made last year was an electric tiller. It chews through the soil easily to mix it up and make it nice and fluffy. It saves a lot of time and back breaking work. I love it.
So, the lesson here is to amend your soil! Don't get lured into planting your newly curated collection of seeds before you're ready.
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A zone 8a gardening enthusiast!