Getting Garden Ready: The Basics on Preparing for Spring Planting

Depending on the size and complexity of your growing area, gardening can require quite a bit of time. That said, many people take great pride in their garden and derive a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment from literally harvesting the fruits of their labor. Although summer is still many months away, now is the perfect time to start planning and preparing for your garden. Below are a few helpful tips on how to get started and how to make sure you are ready for planting.

  1. Decide how much space you have to commit to your garden. Try to choose an area that gets a maximum amount of sunshine. The South side of your property will receive the most sun. If you live next to trees or taller structures be mindful of how much they will end up shading your garden.
  2. Dig up the top foot of soil with a pitchfork or rototiller. You will want to add in quality topsoil and compost before planting. You can check with your local gardening store to find out how much of each you need. If you are using raised beds, check the boxes for any damage and make necessary repairs. Check the soil quality. You can add peat moss to increase soil fluffiness. Check your soil’s pH. If it is low, you may want to add lime in the form of dolomite. Do this several week’s before planting. Finally, top off boxes with compost.
  3. Plan your garden. Order your seeds well in advance and read the instructions on the packets to find out how much spacing and light they require.
  4. Start seeds indoors 8—12 weeks before transplanting them outside. It is safe to transplant seeds after the last frost date for your area. You can find out your last frost date by looking it up online.
  5. Decide on an irrigation system. Make sure you consider the ultimate size of your plants before placing soaker hoses. If you decide on a subterranean irrigation system, this will obviously need to be installed prior to planting.
  6. Set poles and trellises for taller plants previous to planting the seedlings so as not to disrupt roots.

Attack of the ZomBees

Learn what to look for and what you can do to help stop the honey bees from Zombie Fly infestation.

zombeesThe Phorid Fly or Apocephalus borealis is actually native to the state of Oregon, but is only recently observed to make the jump to honey bees. It injects it’s larvae into a worker bee, and once the eggs inside hatch and begin to grow, the bee will make its final flight from the hive. Infected bees are observed showing unusual behavior, such as flying around at night and being attracted to light sources. The infected bees will typically die quickly and are commonly found underneath a source of light or within a light trap.

Recently, researchers at San Francisco State University and OSU have been conducting research to determine the extent of the ZomBee infestations and need the help of citizen scientists to collect data and bee samples throughout the country. The Columbia SWCD can provide assistance for Columbia County residents to set up light traps and get established as a Citizen Scientist. You can create your own account at, or bring your samples into the SWCD office (and we’ll handle them from there).

Download and build a ZomBee light trap in our ZomBee Booklet.