The weather may be warming up nicely, but exactly how will you know when your garden is ready for planting? Armed with the following simple tips, you will be able to rely on your own powers of observation to tell you when it’s time to get in the garden. Gather a small amount of soil in your hand and form it into a small, tight ball. If water drips out, you can be sure that it is too wet to be planting. Soil structure breaks down quickly if it is worked while wet. Your soil will be ready to work when you tap it lightly and it crumbles into small pieces easily. Soil moisture is important, as tender transplanted seedlings will decline quickly in poor soil conditions. If your soil has high clay content it will hold more water and take longer to heat up to the point where you can plant out your seedlings in the spring. The addition of compost will help this greatly. In clay soils, raised beds will help improve drainage. Before you plant out seedlings, cover the moist bed with clear poly to speed warming of the soil. Sandy soils will heat and cool quickly, and the retention of moisture is particularly important in warmer climates. Adding compost to sandy soil will help the soil hold both water and nutrients. In very sandy soils, plant in a furrow or a low point to catch any available moisture runoff or rains. This is especially useful in dry climates where precipitation is minimal.