Shovel filled with soil and a green plant
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When Do You Have Workable Soil?

February in the Maritime Northwest brings rain, rain, and more rain. What does all this water do to the soil? During this time of year our soils become saturated—all the pore space within the soil becomes filled with water. This can become a problem for the gardener because cultivating saturated soil damages its structure, doing more harm than good. A cloche built over a garden bed warms the soil and reduces the amount of rain that falls on the bed. The soil will not dry out quickly, so a cloche may need to be in place two to three weeks before the ground is ready to plant.

To test if your soil is workable, dig down 6 to 8 inches and gather a handful of soil. Gently compress the soil into a ball with one hand. Toss the ball 6 inches into the air and let it fall into your open hand. If the ball falls apart into crumbs, the soil is ready to work; if it stays as a ball or only comes slightly apart, more drying time is necessary.

Contact The Garden Hotline for more information or to get custom answers to your specific questions. Get more information on organic gardening topics in Tilth Alliance’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide.