Herban Gardening: Checking the Soil

March is here and with it comes longer days, sunshine, and the promise of fresh herbs finding their way from your yard or windowsill to you salads and side dishes! For those of us who are lucky enough to have their own little patch of dirt; whether community garden, rooftop or backyard space; here are a few pointers to help you decided if it's time to begin dinging into your soil:

-Take a very small handful of soil in the palm of your hand and begin forming a ball out of the soil by squeezing your hand into a fist around the soil

-Once a solid ball has formed take a finger and lightly tap the ball OR drop the ball from a height of three feet

-If the ball breaks apart easily into a pile of loose dirt, then you are ready to being digging into and working the soil...

-If the soil, however, slowly falls apart in large clumps then the soil is still retaining too much moisture to begin working it

-Another helpful way to check if you're still unsure is to assess the color of your soil; dark soil is still retaining water, while lighter or ashy soil is most likely ready to be worked

It is important to be the early bird in gardening, but if you are the too early bird you'll be out hunting before the worms are even up... What I mean is, if you begin working your soil before it is ready you'll do more damage than good. Heavy, wet soil doesn't break up into the light and airy texture best for breathing plants... plus, all those large clods you'll create by digging when the soil is too wet will end up drying into awful rock-like clumps that become nightmares to break up when your soil really is ready. So take your time, and be thankful for the outdoor space awaiting your perfect little city garden!!

This is part one of a series on planting and growing herbs in NYC! Check back for the next installment on how to find or create the perfect in home or windowsill herb garden!!