Preparing Your Garden For Spring

We’ve been looking forward to planting our spring gardens for months, and can almost taste the fresh, homegrown produce that will hopefully be the result of our hard work. Now that it’s finally time to start getting our hands dirty, we asked Gabriele Rausse, Monticello’s Director of Gardens and Grounds (also known as “The Father of Virginia Wine”), for advice on how to position our plantings for success. Here are his recommendations:

  1. If you have the choice, east, southeast, and south are the three best exposures. The dew that forms early in the morning will dry up right away, and no fungi disease will damage your crop.
  2. Don’t work the soil if the dirt sticks to your shovel or tiller. Otherwise the sun will make a brick out of it.
  3. Don’t allow any air pockets around the root system of any seedlings that you transplant into the garden. Press down the dirt around the plant firmly.
  4. Water your seedlings immediately after you plant them—it will help fill up air pockets and give the plant the moisture it needs.
  5. Weeds will be your main challenge, so work on keeping the area around the plant weed free from the beginning.

Expert tip from Gabriele Rausse of Monticello in Charlottesville, VA.