“As Soon As The Soil Can Be Worked”

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Sometimes new gardeners need help interpreting and deciphering the back of a seed packet or garden catalog. Sure seems like the directions are forthright but that’s not always the case.

The expression “ as soon as the soil can be worked “  can confuse an inexperienced gardener.

“As soon as the soil can be worked” is a statement about soil condition.

Soil can be worked and seeds planted when it’s no longer wet or sticky.

When your garden can be worked will depend upon what type of soil you have.

Your soil maybe different than that of your  neighbor’s. So just because his garden is being planted does mean you should plant yours and vice versa.

Sandy soil will always be able to be planted sooner than clay type soils.
But whatever you do don’t disturb the ground before it is ready.

You’ll ruin the soil structure.

To test if your soil is ready,

grab a fist full of soil into your hand and squeeze it together into a semi -conical or oblong shape.

If the soil is a little crumby and will readily fall apart – it’s ready to go.

Sometimes the soil can be on the borderline between too wet and dry.

And it’s a flip of the coin whether or not to chance planting.  The photo below shows soil that is almost too wet.


Whether or not to plant would be determined by the weather.

If the weather looked like it was going to be warm and dry for the next few days I would plant. But if the weather was going to be cool and rainy – no way!

The seeds would just rot in the ground and I’d have to replant.



Now if the soil  sticks together like a big turd (very earthy old time garden analogy) – it’s still too wet. You need to wait for it to dry out more.

With gardening no harm ever comes from waiting and working with Nature.

If you jump the gun and disturb the soil too early you and ruin the soil structure and you’ll pay the Devil to get it fit again.

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