Preparing Your Garden For Planting
If you’re like a lot of folks, you love garden-fresh veggies. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of eating what you grow yourself. The problem can be is that you invest tons of time, money, and effort for less-than-optimal results. There is hope though! With a bit of planning and preparation, you greatly increase your chances of a bountiful harvest. Here’s the lowdown on how to properly prepare your vegetable garden for planting!
It sounds basic, but as they say in real estate, location, location, location! Veggie plants need 6-8 hours of vitamin “S” every day – sunshine! When preparing your garden for planting, choose your plot wisely.
The next issue is the composition of your soil. You’ll want to turn up your garden until it’s loose to a depth of 8-10”. Grab a handful of soil and make sure it crumbles easily. You can assess the nutrients and pH with a soil test kit, then take a look at the drainage situation. Dig a 12” wide by 12” deep hole, fill it with water and let it drain overnight before filling it to the top again. After an hour, measure the water level. It should drain 2” of water every hour to avoid problems like insufficient moisture and conversely, root rot from being waterlogged.
Now what? Once you have a handle on what you’re working with you can fix any deficiencies. For optimal success, prepare your soil at least 3 weeks prior to planting. The bulk of the “junk” like rocks, weeds, twigs, roots, etc., should get raked out. Don’t stress though — it doesn’t have to be perfect!
If your soil is clay, you can add about 3-4 lbs of gypsum for every 100 square feet to help break it apart. Up to 4” of compost will fix sandy soil or lower the pH if necessary. Lime should be used if you need to raise the pH. Now it’s time to turn up the soil again. If you have access to a rototiller, your back will thank you!
The last part is tilling. You’ll want your vegetable rows to be at least 12” apart. Rake up your newly balanced soil (by now you’re a chemist!) to form 8-10” tall rows and flatten them out so they’re 6-8” wide. Add a decent layer of mulch in between to keep the weeds down and voila, you’re ready to plant!
Visit Schwartz Greenhouse to find the healthiest plants grown locally.
Planting a vegetable garden is so exciting! You have visions of beautiful, home-grown deliciousness going straight from the garden to the table. The soil gets turned up, compost added, vegetable seedlings or seeds purchased and planted in a well thought out design, and the watering begins.
So do the daily questions you ask yourself. Did it rain last night? If so, how much? Should I water today? What time is best? Does the soil seem dry? Am I overwatering? The struggle is real!
Here are some tips to eliminate the watering guesswork and de-stress your gardening experience! As a general rule of thumb, vegetables need one inch of water per week, either from rainfall or irrigation.
This translates to about six gallons per square yard. The cool thing is that you don’t have to water every day, you just need to make sure that the soil retains enough moisture on a weekly basis.
The best time for watering your vegetable garden is in the morning or mid-day. Plants are susceptible to disease if the leaves are wet for long periods of time. Watering early helps them dry off more quickly and also reduces evaporation.
The key to frequency is figuring out what kind of soil you have. Clay or loam retains moisture longer so delivering an inch once a week is sufficient. Sandy soil drains faster so you’ll need to break it up to half an inch twice per week. The plants will develop a deeper, stronger root system with heavier soaking so it’s better to water less often but longer.
So how do you know what’s an inch of water? You can purchase an inexpensive rain gauge or make your own with a tuna can or similar container placed near the garden but not where it’ll get runoff. Old school common sense will actually be your best friend though. Sandy soil that’s dry when you poke your finger in about 2-4” needs water. If your clay soil is hard at that depth, same thing.
Something to keep in mind though, more is not always better! This definitely applies to watering. Plants need air around their roots to grow properly. Surprisingly, waterlogged soil will interfere with their ability to absorb moisture and minerals.
Since watering can get expensive and it’s eco-conscious to conserve, try adding a 2-4” layer of mulch in between your rows of plants or around them. That helps prevent evaporation and will reduce your water usage. Bonus, it’ll keep the pesky weeds down!
It’s really exciting that the weather is warming up. It feels like its time to get outside and get started on the flower beds.
First things to do, clean up the landscape and turn over the flower bed soil. Adding a weed preventer, Preen, will help to keep the weed seeds from germinating. Wait about 1 to 2 weeks, and the flower beds are ready for planting.