Gardening season is coming to an end. Fruits and vegetables have been harvested and it’s time to clean up the garden and get it ready for next Spring. This can be a great chance to spend time outdoors with your friends and family as you prepare your vegetable garden or flower bed for the next season. As Fall approaches and the temperatures drop, the soil can be much more difficult to work with as it gets colder. Gather your tools and take inventory. Having the right gardening supplies will make a big difference! Consider the benefits of quality digging tools before you get to work. They make the task of digging a garden or trench notably easier, not to mention weeding and root removal.  Most gardeners require just a handful of quality tools while preparing for the next season.

A shovel or spade is essential in the garden. Shovels have long handles and usually rounded blades. Spades however are often times shorter with narrow blades. A lot of gardeners prefer a long-handled shovel for most gardening tasks, saving your back as you turn the soil. Not all shovels are the same. Consider investing in a quality shovel that will last a lifetime. There are some shovels that sharpen themselves as you dig, capable of resisting dents and dings. Shovels with sharp blades and sturdy handles can make a real difference. Professional gardeners often use shovels with specialty blades when faced with different types of ground conditions, such as clay soil.

Another tool to consider is a rake. Not all rakes are the same, consider a bow rake when preparing your garden. A bow rake is a multi-purpose tool, perfect for smoothing and leveling garden beds and works great for loosening up the soil. A bow rake works great when you are cleaning up garden debris.

A trowel works great when digging smaller holes and can be a real lifesaver when you need to get some weeding done. You will want to find a trowel with serrated edges as this will help cut through roots and penetrate tough ground conditions more easily.

If you are working with soil that has never been prepared, don’t worry! You can still have a great garden, consider amending the soil with the proper nutrients and minerals if necessary. You will want to dig down at least twice the length of your spade blade, about 18” deep for a new garden plot. For existing garden plots you only need to break up the top 8” of soil using a spade or shovel. Turning the soil and removing rocks and roots will save you lots of time in the Spring.  Break  up any dirt clods and add top soil and other amendments as needed. Use a rake to mix in the amendments and smooth the soil.

There are other supplies to consider if you really want to get a head start on next season. Twine and stakes work great when marking and keeping rows straight. You can also use stakes to help support your future plants. Now is a good time to plant any new perennials, especially those that bloom in Spring. Take care when moving your plants, they can be especially delicate in the colder months. Once the ground freezes you will want to protect the soil by spreading mulch over any bare soil in your garden.

Enjoy the coming months with the peace of mind that your garden is ready to go come Spring!