Soil testing: It’s a great time to do soil testing if your soil is not frozen, for the vegetable garden as well as perennial and annual beds, turf areas, and areas where you grow fruit. If you can get down 6-8 inches for the sample, go ahead and take samples. The main UW Soil Lab facility is located in Marshfield. You can reach them at 715-387-2523 to request the testing kit, which includes instructions, the form you need to submit and bags for mailing the samples. Soil testing is important for new gardens, so you have base-line information for fertilizer application as well as for beds that haven’t been tested for a while. The University of Wisconsin Soils Lab’s standard soil test costs $15 and the report includes information on your soil pH, (this is a measure of the acidity and alkalinity of your soil) percent organic matter, phosphorus and potassium levels and also includes a lime or sulfur recommendation, fertilizer recommendations and other tips. Go to http://uwlab.soils.wisc.edu/ for information on other available tests, and where to send them for analysis.
Tools: Consider taking your lawn mower in to get the blades sharpened before the spring “rush.” Sharp blades make cleaner cuts that don’t wick out moisture like ragged cuts and are also less likely to provide an entry point for disease. Also check out your garden tools. A metal tool file can be used to sharpen your shovel, and steel wool can help to remove any light rust. Wear gloves to protect your hands while sharpening rusty (or non-rusty!) tools. UW-Extension has a nice fact sheet on tool sharpening at https://pddc.wisc.edu/ under the Fact sheets tab titled “Maintaining Lawn and Garden Tools.”