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How to prepare a garden plot

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Eliminating weeds and getting the soil ready for your flowers and vegetables are important first steps in growing a successful garden. Time spent in preparation reduces the time you’ll have to spend maintaining and weeding your garden over the course of the growing season.

Tools and Materials

  • String and wooden stakes
  • Spade
  • Herbicide (*optional*)
  • Hoe or mattock
  • Steel garden rake
  • Soil testing sample kit
  • Soil amendments, as required
  • Garden fork or rototiller

Choose the spot. Vegetable gardens and most flowerbeds require at least 6 hours of full sun each day. Choose a level spot — either natural or terraced — that has well-drained soil, if possible (see Testing Soil Drainage). Thick grass or vigorous weed growth usually indicate soil drainage and nutrient levels that will support healthy garden plants.

Mark the boundaries. Outline the new garden plot with string and stakes, a hose, or a line of powdered limestone.

Eliminate the competition. Remove existing lawn by slicing under the sod with a spade and cutting it into manageable pieces. Add the pieces to your compost or use it to patch bare spots elsewhere. Kill weeds by use of an herbicide, pull them by hand, or chop them with a hoe or mattock and rake them up. If time permits, you can smother grass and weeds with old carpeting or black plastic anchored to the ground. For best results, leave the covering in place for several weeks of hot weather.

Test the soil. Send a sample of garden soil to a private or cooperative extension office soil-testing lab for nutrient and pH analysis. Call the lab or a local garden center for a collection kit and instructions on how to collect the sample. Test results will tell you which minerals and pH amendments your soil needs to grow healthy vegetables and flowers.

Add amendments. Adjust the soil pH — its measure of acidity or alkalinity — by adding ground limestone or sulfur as recommended by the soil test results. Improve the soil fertility, clay soil drainage, and sandy soil water-holding capacity by adding organic material, such as compost, well-rotted livestock manure, or composted fir bark. Apply a 1- to 2-inch layer of organic material over the garden.

Turn the soil. Work the amendments into the top 6 to 12 inches of soil with a rototiller or garden fork. Break up large clods and remove rocks and roots. Work the soil only when it is dry enough to crumble easily after squeezing – never when it is saturated with water.

The best time to eliminate weeds and grass is the season before you plan to plant your garden. You can do it just prior to planting, too, but may have more weeds pop up throughout the growing season.

Do-it-yourself soil test kits work best for detecting the soil pH, but give only a rough idea of the nutrient levels. Professional tests provide more thorough and accurate information and recommendations.

How to Prepare a New Gardening Plot

Getting rid of weeds and making the soil ready for planting is an important phase of setting up a new garden plot. Take note, the amount of time you will spend preparing your new garden plot will determine the amount of time you will require to carry out routine maintenance such as weeding especially during the growing season.

Question is . . . “which is the best way to set up a new garden plot?” In case you don’t know, consider yourself lucky as this is a detailed guide complete with tips to help you set up a new garden plot.

Material and Tools that you Will Need

To be able to set up a new garden plot you will need the following tools and materials for the preparation phase. They include:
• A spade, hoe or mattock.
• Garden rake made of steel.
• Sample kit for testing soil.
• A relatively long piece of string and wooden stakes.
• Herbicide, preferably glyphosate (optional).
• A garden fork or a rototiller.

What follows next is the actual preparation/setting up of the garden plot. It involves:

Choosing the Right Spot

While in the process of choosing the right spot for your garden, bear in mind that plants (vegetables and flowers) require a minimum of 6 hours exposure to sunlight daily. This should guide you in choosing the best spot, somewhere that is fairly leveled and has well-drained soils. Look for a spot that has thick grass growth and vigorous weeds as this normally serves as an indication of well-drained soils and high nutrients levels suitable for a garden set up.

Draw a Boundary and Get Rid of Any Competition From Plant Matter Around

Once you have spotted a potential area, mark the boundaries of the soon-to-be garden plot using the string and stakes. Go ahead to remove all forms of existing lawn using a spade to cut through to the manageable pieces. Add these to your compost heap for later use. Use the herbicide to get rid of weeds or pull them using bare hands with the help of a hoe or mattock in case you don’t have the herbicide.

Carry Out a Soil Test

To be certain that the vegetables or flowers you wish to grow in your garden won’t die as a result of being planted in soils deficient of specific vital nutrients or mineral salts carry out a soil test. Take a soil sample from your plot and send it to a lab for scrutiny by qualified officers who will check for its PH level among other aspects and consequently advise you on how to go about growing healthy vegetable and flowers on that particular soil type.

Make Necessary Amendments and Turn the Soil

Depending on the results of the soil test results you will be able to adjust soil PH accordingly by either raising its acidity or alkalinity or lowering both but only after taking measurements. At this point focus on improving soil fertility, its drainage in case it is clay soil and even adding organic material of between 1 and 2 inches high over the garden. These should include: rotten livestock manure decomposed fir barks etc from the compost heap you prepared earlier on. Incorporate all the added amendments into the soil using the garden fork breaking up any large clods of soil in the process and getting rid of rocks as well as roots from the soil.

Selecting a plot for vegetable growing

Before making your final selection of a new plot it is important to take time to carefully consider several important issues. The plot’s characteristics, as well as the relation to the other plots nearby in order for your plants to receive the best opportunity to grow successfully, are both vitally important.

Those plots that are only maintained on a part-time basis should be steered clear of because a plot nearby that is not well maintained can easily creep into your plot and before you know it the weeds they had are now yours and the perennial weeds are the hardest to get rid of so try and guard against them.

The wind speed and direction is of great importance as well. If there is going to be a lot of winds then fragile vegetable, flowers or fruits cannot be planted around the edges of the plot or even at the plot at all. There are some plants that do better with strong winds since strong winds also will stop certain insects from coming around and causing harm to the plants.

Some crops that do well in wind are both potatoes and carrots. Also, make sure that water is close by and plentiful since it is probably the most essential element to make your plot a successful one with lots of fruits and vegetables.

Shady plots have much more negatives than positives so if you can stay away from a shady one, all the better. Plants need all the sunshine they can get in order to be healthy and produce an abundant about of crop. So, stay away from tall buildings, large trees, high hedges, and shrubs.

Taking a look at the soil quality is another important aspect of choosing your plot. You need to know if it is rocky, hard, dry or been left abandoned and overgrown with nutrient sucking weeds. Soggy soil is not good either since it will be a condition that will hinder the planting of the plants and choosing a soggy one means you may have to put in a drainage system.

The level of security is also important. Is there a lockable gate where your plot is located and a strong fence. Since it would be very hard for you and your family to have all your hard work lost to vandalism so checking the security is an important key.

Useful Gardening Tips

Create enough time in advance to be able to fully engage yourself and any other person helping you in preparing the new garden plot. Always remember that grass and weeds are to be done away with only when the planting season nears. Also, make sure that you are involved in the soil testing processes in any possible way. As a result of this, you have a rough idea of your soil’s nutrient levels which will make it easier for you to practice gardening in that type of soil. In fact, make it a point to consult extensively with professionals as this way the garden plot you are preparing is most likely to turn out as you expect it.

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A rototiller doesn’t necessarily make preparing a vegetable garden easy. Noisy and hard to manipulate, tillers slice through soil — and beneficial earthworms — to create smooth beds and incorporate soil amendments to a uniform depth. Repeated tilling compacts soil beneath the cultivated layer, making it difficult for plants to establish deep roots and disturbing beneficial soil organisms. A garden spade can do the job in an early spring afternoon for a small plot, or with advanced planning, you can let nature take almost all of the sweat-inducing labor out of preparing soil for a vegetable garden of any size.

Double Digging

Clear weeds from your garden rows in early spring. Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost down each weed-free row with a rigid garden rake.

Dig a hole to the depth of the shovel’s blade and about 12 to 18 inches wide — depending on what you plan to grow — at one end of a row. Deposit the soil from the hole at the opposite end of the row and return to the start of the row.

Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole you just dug with the tines of a garden fork. Push the tines in as far as you can and rock the handle back and forth to loosen the soil without disturbing its layers. Repeat until you’ve loosened all the soil in the bottom of the hole. You can chop the bottom of the hole with the blade of your shovel to loosen the soil if you want to avoid trading implements, but it is not as effective as using the garden fork.

Toss a few handfuls of organic matter — shredded leaves, straw, composted manure or disease-free plant clippings — across the hole.

Dig the next section of the row to the same depth and width with the garden shovel, depositing the soil so that it fills in the hole above the loosened soil. This also helps incorporate the compost into the soil.

Repeat the three preceding steps until you reach the end of the row. Finish by depositing the first pile of soil from the head of the row into the last hole. Repeat the process for as many rows as you plan to plant.

Rake the rows smooth, grading them slightly so that they are rounded on the sides and slope down to the space between the rows.

No-Till or No-Dig Gardening

Layer cardboard or a thick layer of newspaper over your garden — or the portion of lawn where you want a garden — in early fall. Completely cover the entire area, overlapping cardboard or newspaper by several inches where pieces meet.

Spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of nitrogen-rich green materials, which may include fresh grass clippings, seed-free plants that you’ve pulled up, kitchen waste or anything else suitable for the “green” layer in a compost pile.

Top the green layer with 1 to 2 inches of dried leaves, straw, shredded newspaper, sawdust, wood ash, or any combination of these materials. Alternate layers of brown and green until you run out of materials.

Water the entire stack. Although it might start out 1 to 3 feet high, don’t be surprised when it shrinks as it decomposes.

Cover the area with black plastic mulch if desired. Secure the edges with wire landscape staples or rocks or cover it with natural mulch if you object to the look of the black plastic.

Remove the black plastic in the spring, if you used it, to reveal the rich soil of your garden bed. Alternatively, cut holes to plant individual seedlings if you don’t want to remove the plastic mulch. Large pieces of organic material that didn’t decompose can be removed if they get in your way while planting; otherwise, leave them in place to finish the decomposition process over the growing season.

Things Needed

  • Compost
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Garden fork
  • Organic matter
  • Cardboard or newspaper
  • Green plant material or kitchen scraps
  • Dried leaves or other brown material
  • Black plastic mulch (optional)
  • Staples or rocks (optional)
  • Natural mulch (optional)

Warnings

  • Areas that were originally grass when covered using the no-till or no-dig method may take up to a year to fully compost.
  • Clear the layer of sod and compost it first if you are double-digging an entire new vegetable garden bed to avoid spreading grass roots throughout the new garden.
  • Leaving space to walk between rows or planting blocks that you double dig is practical for completing gardening chores and avoids disturbing all the earthworms and beneficial insects in your soil.

References

  • Vegetable Gardener: Double Digging
  • Growing Interactive: The Pros and Cons of Cultivating Soil
  • New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service: Double Digging a Garden
  • Ohio State University Extension: Intensive Organic Gardening
  • University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: Under the Solano Sun – Lasagna Gardening
  • Oregon State University Extension Service: Layer Compost “Lasagna-Style” for No-Till Gardening

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images

About the Author

Patricia Hamilton Reed has written professionally since 1987. Reed was editor of the “Grand Ledge Independent” weekly newspaper and a Capitol Hill reporter for the national newsletter “Corporate & Foundation Grants Alert.” She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University, is an avid gardener and volunteers at her local botanical garden.

Just follow our step-by-step guide to creating a vegetable garden from scratch. We will cover topics including.

  • Site Selection Considerations
  • Size considerations
  • Soil Preparation

If you are putting in a vegetable garden plot from scratch and have never done it before, you probably have many questions. How big should I make the garden? What tools do I need? How deep should I dig? Sit back and relax. We’ve got some answers for you.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

The first step in creating a vegetable garden is site selection. The most important factor in selecting the right garden site is sunlight. You need a spot that gets a minimum of 5-6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Ideally, your garden should be created on a flat spot of land. Sometimes this is not possible. A gentle slope is ok. If you have the choice between a shady, flat spot or a sunny location on a slope, always choose the sunny spot on the slope. Additionally, you don’t want to choose a location that is at the bottom of a slope. Water runs downhill and your nice, sunny, flat garden plot might be flooded before spring is over. Also, try and choose a spot that is far enough away from large trees. If you start digging up your yard and run into a bunch of thick tree roots, you are too close to the tree and should think about creating a vegetable garden a different location. Have a good spot in mind? Great. We’ll move on to the next step in a moment. If you have surveyed your property and determined that no good site exists for creating a vegetable garden, you still have options – you can always plant a container garden.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

The next consideration in creating a vegetable garden is size. How big do you want your garden to be? Your answer to this question depends on a lot of things. How much land is available? How much time and effort do you want to put into your garden? What types of vegetables/fruits do you want to grow? How many plants do you want to grow?

Creating a vegetable garden plot from scratch will require a fair amount of physical exertion – digging, tilling, raking, bending, etc. If you’ve never had a vegetable garden in the past, start with a small one – maybe 100-200 square feet. Go through the steps outlined below to create a vegetable garden of this size. If you have more land available, you can always add to it and make it as big as you want/need to. If you have some plants in mind that you definitely want to grow, you can now check out the individual vegetable links listed in the navigation bar on our Home page for information about space requirements for each type of plant.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Or you can go ahead and follow the steps below to create a small garden. Once you have created a vegetable garden plot, you can then choose what you want to grow.

OK, so you’ve picked the perfect spot. Now you’re staring at a plot of land that probably has grass or other plants already growing on it. So how do we transform that spot into a vegetable garden plot? This is the soil preparation part and will require some physical exertion. But there is good news – once completed, you won’t ever have to do this much work again to get your garden ready to plant. For this process, you’ll need access to a shovel, a garden rake and a tiller. The shovel should have a pointed tip. The garden rake should have short, fixed tines (unlike the long flexible tines of a leaf rake). Tillers come in a wide variety of sizes. You need a tiller that goes at least 6 inches deep. You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy an expensive tiller. You can rent one, borrow one or hire somebody to do the tilling part for you. However, if you have the means, owning your own tiller can be cost effective in the long run and much more convenient.

  1. Use a stick, rock, stake, etc. to mark the corners of the garden plot
  2. Dig up the land. push the shovel into the ground up to the hilt (stand on it if you have to). Pry up the chunk of earth with the shovel and separate it from the rest of the ground. Turn the chunk of earth upside down and put it grass down into the hole you just created. Repeat this process until your entire plot is dug up. It’s important to remember to dig as deep as your shovel will allow. If you only dig a few inches deep now, your garden will under-perform later.
  3. Run the tiller over the garden plot, using it to break up the large chunks of dirt. Do this several times. Don’t worry about deep tilling at this point. Your goal right now is just to break up the chunks of earth you dug up.
  4. After you’ve broken up as many chunks as you can with the tiller, it’s time to pick out the remaining “unbreakable” chunks. You can pick up the big chunks that are left by hand. Use the garden rake to clear out the remaining smaller chunks, rocks and plant debris.
  5. Till again. Run the tiller over the garden several times, going deeper each time. Use the rake or your hands to get rid of any remaining rocks or plant debris that pop up. Till again. Till as deep as the tiller will allow. The deeper you till, the better your garden will perform and the easier it it will be to plant.

At this point, the soil should be relatively fine in texture – no big chunks, rocks or plant debris. You should be able to dig down 6 inches or so easily with your bare hands. Now the hardest part is over. As long as you continue to pull the weeds and till right before it freezes in the fall, you won’t ever have to do any more major digging (at least for this plot of land).

Congratulations! You’ve created a vegetable garden plot from scratch. Feels pretty good, doesn’t it?

There are only two more factors to consider when planning your garden. plant selection and position.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Preparing the ground for planting by getting rid of weeds and enhancing the soil is an important part of creating a beautiful garden. Putting effort into preparing your plot now can make a big difference in the amount of care that your garden requires later in the season.

Supplies

– Wooden sticks or stakes

– A rake with stiff steel tines

– A kit for testing your soil

– Glyphosate herbicide (this is not mandatory but can help with weed control)

– Amendments for the soil

– A garden tiller

Start by deciding where you want to place your garden. If you are going to be planting vegetables, try growing argula, or sun-loving flowers, try to find an area that gets at least six hours of sun during the day. Look for an area where the ground is even and level. Ideally, the soil in the area that you choose should be well-drained. One easy way to tell at a glance if the quality of the soil is high enough is if there are a lot of weeds or dense grass growing in the area.

Once you decide where you want your garden, you can mark out the edges using the garden stakes and string. If you prefer, you could use powdered limestone to create an outline or you could lay out a garden hose in the shape that you want for your new plot.

Next, get rid of any grass in the area. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using the spade to cut out small sections, sliding it underneath to loosen the roots. The pieces of sod that you remove can either be composted or they can be moved to another area where they can continue growing. If there are weeds in the area, consider using glyphosate herbicide to get rid of them. Alternatively, you can hand-pull them or you can use a hoe to pull them out of the ground. Covering the ground with black plastic sheeting can also be an effective way to kill off weeds. Keep in mind, however, that the plastic needs to be left in place for a few weeks to give the plants underneath time to die.

Soil testing is the next step. If you have your own testing kit, you can conduct the test at home. Otherwise, take a sample of your soil to your county extension office for testing. They will be able to tell you the pH of the soil and the nutrients it contains. Based on this information, you can then amend the soil to get better results with your garden.

Once you have a better understanding of the composition of your soil, you can add amendments as needed. For instance, if you have dense clay soil or sandy soil that has trouble holding onto water, adding compost, manure, pieces of bark, or other organic matter can improve the condition of the soil. Placing a layer of mulch that is a couple of inches thick over the garden is also beneficial.

Once the amendments are in place, blend them in with the soil by using a garden tiller. Try to blend to a depth of about a foot. As you go, remove any thick roots or rocks from the soil and break apart any dense clumps of dirt. Wait until the soil is relatively dry before performing this step.

Additional Suggestions

Begin preparing your garden plot as soon as possible. Getting the ground ready the season before helps minimize the growth of weeds. Even though you can prepare the ground right before you plant it, problems with weeds are a lot more likely to occur.

At-home soil testing kits are effective at determining the pH of your soil. They aren’t quite as good, however, at identifying the level of nutrients in the soil. If you want to get the most accurate results, consider professional soil testing.

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Planting and growing a flower or vegetable garden is a rewarding endeavor, providing fresh flowers and vegetables for your enjoyment. The success of the garden depends on soil preparation — poorly prepared soil may not have the nutrients necessary for plants to flourish. You will need to remove grass from the area before starting the garden. Removing the grass ensures ample room for plants to grow and eliminates competition for water and nutrients. Start preparing the soil the fall before you plan to plant to allow time for soil conditioning and improvement.

Choose an area for the garden bed that is as level as possible with adequate soil drainage. Keep in mind that flower and vegetable gardens often require a minimum of six hours of full sun per day.

Test the soil for proper nutrient and pH analysis, using a self test kit from a garden store. This usually requires only a small plug of soil, but always follow the specific directions on the test kit pack.

Hammer wooden stakes into the ground at the corners of the garden bed. Tie a string from stake to stake to mark the boundaries or the bed.

Cut the existing sod from the garden bed with a spade. Slice under the sod with a spade to free the sod from the soil. Cut the sod into sections to make removal easier. You cold use herbicides to kill the existing grass before tilling the earth, but completely removing the turf eliminates the chance of new plants growing from tubers and seeds left behind.

Till the garden bed to a depth of 8 to 12 inches to completely break up the soil. This may require several passes with the tiller over the garden bed to remove any rocks, weeds, roots and debris.

Rake the garden bed with a steel rake to remove any debris that was missed with the garden tiller.

Add the grass and other plant debris to a compost pile, if desired, and allow it several months to break down into fertile compost; if you remove the sod in fall and allow it to decompose over winter, it should be ready for use in spring. Composted organic matter is full of nutrients to help your garden crops thrive. Remove as much soil as possible from the grass roots or the grass could continue to grow in the mulch pile. The complex network of grass roots adds beneficial structure to the soil. After the grass has completely died, there’s no risk of it growing back when you add it back to the garden.

Add nutrients, compost, peat or other organic material to amend the soil, based on the soil test results. Lime and soda ash balance acid soils, while iron sulfate reduces the pH of alkaline soil. Spread an even layer of nutrients over the garden bed.

Till the nutrients into the garden bed soil with a tiller or shovel. You may have to till the garden bed several times to fully incorporate the nutrients into the soil.

Allow the soil to rest for one to two weeks to allow the nutrients to start working and the soil to settle. Rake the soil smooth with a steel rake before planting; this gives the soil the final preparation before planting.

Line the borders of the garden plot with landscape edging, field stone, bricks or landscape timbers. This clearly defines the garden space for use in future years and prevents damage to crops from mowers and weed trimmers.

Plant the flowers or vegetables according to the plants’ specific planting guidelines.

Add 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch, such as shredded bark mulch, newspaper, dried leaves or straw, between garden rows and around plants, leaving a few inches around the base of plants to allow room to grow. The mulch helps prevent weed growth and retains moisture so plants don’t dry out on hot summer days. Organic mulching material decomposes into nutrient-rich compost over time, adding vital nutrients to the soil, so you will have to add more mulch periodically.

Plant a cold-hardy cover crop after the final fall harvest so the soil isn’t left bare over winter. Cold-tolerant cover crops include hairy vetch, cereal rye, oats and winter peas. Whether or not you choose to harvest the winter cover crop, the decaying organic material after crops have grown continues to add nutrients to the soil, encourages water and oxygen to permeate the soil, and improves soil structure. You can work the dead crops into the soil with a tiller or leave it on top of the soil to decay naturally.

21 September, 2017

Creating a new garden bed involves removing everything from the garden plot. Killing existing grass presents a challenge because grass throws deep roots into the topsoil. These tenacious roots make removal of grass as difficult as removing stubborn weeds. Plenty of options exist to kill grass to make a garden. These include the use of herbicides, digging up the grass and killing the grass by solarization. Choosing a method depends on the amount of time available before planting.

Herbicide

Mark the outline of your garden area with a hose. Designating this area clearly will help prevent killing nearby grassy areas that you’d like to preserve.

  • Creating a new garden bed involves removing everything from the garden plot.

Spray a herbicide such as Roundup that contains glyphosate to kill grass during active growth only. The grass will discolor and eventually die over the next few weeks.

Use the spade to dig down at least 6 inches to remove all dead grass clumps as well as weeds from the garden area. Grass can be exceptionally stubborn to remove since the root system can travel more than 6 inches beneath the soil surface.

Monitor the garden area for a few weeks and apply additional herbicide in trouble spots.

Manual Removal

Start at the front of your proposed garden bed and drive the spade shovel deeply into the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches.

Lift up the entire clump of grass and shake off excess dirt. Place the clump into a wheelbarrow for transplanting elsewhere or discard the grass in the compost pile.

  • Spray a herbicide such as Roundup that contains glyphosate to kill grass during active growth only.
  • Use the spade to dig down at least 6 inches to remove all dead grass clumps as well as weeds from the garden area.

Continue digging up the entire garden to remove all traces of grass.

Solarizing

Schedule your attempt to kill the grass for early summer. Water the grassy area before applying any plastic sheeting to the ground. Grass and soil should be damp to the touch.

Lay a single layer of thick clear plastic on top of the grass. The clear plastic attracts considerable heat to kill the grass.

Secure the corners of the plastic sheeting by driving plant stakes into the corner to hold the plastic sheeting. Use rocks to secure and loose areas of the plastic. Remember that you don’t want the plastic to be disturbed by wind, weather, humans or animals.

  • Continue digging up the entire garden to remove all traces of grass.
  • Secure the corners of the plastic sheeting by driving plant stakes into the corner to hold the plastic sheeting.

Allow the plastic sheeting to sit in place for eight to 10 weeks to kill the grass. Temperatures under the plastic will be hot enough to burn the grass and roots.

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January 29, 2019 by hosstools

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Preparing Your Garden Plot for Planting

On this week’s episode, the guys talk about the different ways to prepare a garden plot for planting. They first discuss how to determine the appropriate size of the garden. They explain how they prefer small subplots versus one large garden plot. The subplots make the garden easier to manage and are more friendly to proper crop rotation. They’ve found that planting in long rows is not the best solution for crop rotation because you are limited to where you can plant year after year. They talk about different ways to prepare the soil on a new garden plot. These would include using a bottom plow, harrow, tiller or tarping. They suggest starting a couple of months before you intend to plant, as this will allow enough time to break up the grass clumps and get the tilth to a working state. Also, Greg says when you go to prepare a garden plot do not forget to do a soil sample test so you know what level of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen you need to add to the soil before planting.

Show and Tell Segment

On the show and tell segment, Travis has a jar of pickled okra that his father-in-law made. The guys try it on the show and talk about their favorite ways to make pickled okra. Travis brought a head of white cauliflower that he harvested from the demonstration garden at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. Although it can take a while to produce, cauliflower is one of the best-tasting treats from the cool-weather vegetable garden. He also has a head of purple cauliflower called Graffiti. With the purple cauliflower, you don’t have to worry about much discoloration because of the darker color. This is a great variety that is rich in antioxidants and holds its color when cooked. We also carry a yellow to orangish, Flame Star Cauliflower that is a hybrid and has great heat tolerance. Greg talks a little bit about when you want to use calcium nitrate and ammonium sulfate. In the southern climates, you should use some ammonium sulfate on onions because it is a nitrogen source that contains a lot of sulfur which onions love. In the northern climates, you should use calcium nitrate to help supplement your nitrogen source to onions.

Viewer Questions Segment

On the question and answer segment, the guys answer questions about planting the Premium Greens Mix and how to manage squash borers. Travis explains that the Asian greens mixes are pretty cold-hardy and can be planted anytime throughout the fall and winter growing seasons. Succession planting these beds of greens is a great strategy to ensure continuous harvests throughout the cooler months. Greg says if we have a really bad cold spell they will take a little longer to germinate and pop up, but if you have warmer days it won’t take long at all to pop up. They mention that squash vine borers are more easily controlled in the larval stage, but can be difficult to manage once adult populations begin to thrive. They suggest using rotations of B.t. and Spinosad to eliminate larval individuals and prevent adult populations from flourishing and doing maximal damage. Greg says instead of using B.t. he would use Neem Oil and switch it out with Spinosad. As well as, good crop rotation because it is not good to plant the same crops in the same spot year after year. Also, removing crop debris like eggs that can overwinter in the soil will decrease your chances of squash borers in the vegetable garden.

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How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Early spring is when people start thinking about what to grow in their gardens. Seeds are started, groomed for transplanting and then the magic happens. Size matters a lot in gardening. You don’t want to create a masterpiece that is impossible to take care off. For this reason people typically start small and expand a little each year until they feel confident that they can handle a larger garden. The great thing is plot gardening can actually help in all these areas. Read on to learn how plot gardening can save you time and maximize your harvest.

Plot Gardening for Beginners

If you are reading this it probably means you are new to plot gardening or at the very least you want a refresher course. Plot gardening means you map out your garden into blocks or large squares. Some people choose to use plywood to separate each square but most just use heavy gardening twine. There are a few that do raised beds for each square in the plot and they do well with this method, it’s really just about how much space, time and materials you have to build with.

You might be asking yourself why you should use the plot method. This method reduces the amount of space you need, it significantly improves correct planting and you can plant more in less space. Value for space rating is a good way to think of things. Use your space wisely for things you are going to eat. Leave room for one or two “experiments” each year so you try new things but don’t fill your garden with vegetables you are not even sure you are going to like. Nothing is worse than doing all that hard labor and discovering that you don’t like any of it. Experiment some but use the majority of your veggie space for things you know you like.

Prepare the soil. If your new plot is virgin soil, meaning it was recently covered in grass then you will need to dig deep and remove the top soil and replace with fresh gardeners soil. Here are some tips for prepping soil for a vegetable garden. You also must enrich the soil before planting anything. Use organic fertilizers, a nice rotting compost purchased from a nursery or your own compost from a aged compost pile that you created.

Set up the plot and section off using wood, twine or rope. If you plan to grow during the colder months you are going to want to set up a cold frame using PVC pipe and green house material. You might find your garden is attracting birds or other rodents. Use the PVC pipe frame you set up to cover in netting to keep those pests out.

Plan what you want to plant. Having a family meeting to discuss what, when and where you are going to plant is a good idea to do every year. If you have children they should be included in the discussion and they should be encouraged to help plan the fruits and vegetables you will grow. Having children decide your food future can be a little scary so give them as much control as you can comfortably allow but don’t be afraid to offer suggestions or alternatives. If little Johnny only wants to grow carrots and watermelon you are going to have to step in with some suggestions or starve.

Plan the layout of your garden. Use the Companion Plant Gardening method to plan which plants you plant near each other. You want to take int consideration, how much water the plants need, the type of soil they like, and if they can help provide best control for other plants when deciding which fruits and vegetables to plant next to each other.

More Gardening Tips

  • How to Start Square Foot Gardening
  • How to Make a Straw Bale Garden
  • How to Make a Frugal Cloche
  • Companion Plant Gardening
  • Vegetable Container Gardening
  • Tips for Attracting Bees to your Garden
  • How to Make Fast and Easy Compost Pile Using Hay Bales

Emily is passionate about growing her own food, crafts, sewing, developmental disabilities and blogging. She holds a bachelors degree in psychology with a secondary in human development from Washington State University. She also holds an associates degree in horticulture from Clark College. You can often find her blogging over at Emily’s Frugal Tips, a frugal blog dedicated to teaching families how to live with more for less money.

About Alea Milham

Alea Milham is the owner of Premeditated Leftovers and the author of Prep-Ahead Meals from Scatch. She shares her tips for saving money and time while reducing waste in her home. Her favorite hobby, gardening, is a frugal source of organic produce for her recipes. She believes it is possible to live fully and eat well while spending less.

Want to start growing your own veg? Find out how to start a vegetable patch, in our guide.

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Creating a vegetable garden at home is a great way to eat fresh, healthy food, while teaching your children where their food comes from. Starting a new vegetable patch is easy to do. You can start at any time of the year, but spring and autumn are the best times to begin work.

The best way to start a vegetable patch is to work on one area at a time. Dig the soil thoroughly to remove weeds and stones, and rake it level so it’s easy to manage. You can sow some seeds direct into the soil from March onwards – read each seed packet for instructions. Pre-warming the soil using a cloche can improve germination rates and mean you can sow seed sooner.

More on growing fruit and veg:

Find tips and advice on creating your own veg plot, below.

Find the right spot

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Some veg thrive in dappled shade, but most need sun to grow well. No crops will grow under a tree or in deep shade. Pick an area that’s level, has good levels of sunshine and is sheltered from the worst of the wind. Access to a tap or a water butt cuts down trips with a watering can.

Design your plot

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Drawing out a plan of your new vegetable garden helps iron out glitches early. Plan beds in groups of four to make it easier to rotate your veg around the plot, so that pests and diseases don’t build up. You can include flowers for cutting, too, such as gladioli, sunflowers and sweet peas.

Remove weeds

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Prepare the soil well. Dig out perennial weeds like couch grass and bindweed before you start planting your vegetable garden. Where possible, leave the soil for a couple of weeks after weeding, so that any annual seeds brought to the surface germinate. you can then simply hoe these off before sowing.

Tackle a bit at a time

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Start small – don’t dig up the entire garden, only to realise you’ve taken on too much. Dig up a small area instead and get that right. Cover any unused areas with membrane or thick cardboard to keep weeds under control.

Get the soil right

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

If your soil contains a lot of chalk or clay, it’s easier to grow veg in raised beds. Fill the beds with a mixture of soil-based compost, council green waste and topsoil. If growing in soil, it’s a good idea to do a pH test with a kit, to find out how acid or alkaline it is. Neutral soil is best, as most vegetable crops will grow well here.

Grow easy crops

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Some vegetables are easier to grow than others. If you’ve never grown your own vegetables before, or if you’re growing vegetables with children, it’s a good idea to grow easy-to-grow crops first. Courgettes, potatoes, beans, strawberries, radish and beetroot are some great veg crops for beginners.

The biggest mistake beginning gardeners make is using lousy or too-thin soil. Before planting anything in your yard, prepare your garden beds by digging to loosen the soil and adding organic material! This prep work can save you untold disappointment and, perhaps more than any other factor, assure a bountiful and delicious harvest.

If you’re working with a brand-new garden (or one that fell fallow and you’re bringing it back to life), you can stake it and get it ready the autumn before you plan to plant. This act gives the soil and the amendments you’ve added time to settle and meld. It also means you have less work to do next spring.

If a fall start isn’t possible or practical, go ahead and prepare the ground in spring — but don’t start too early. If the ground is still semi-frozen or soggy, digging in the soil can compact it and harm its structure. How do you tell whether it’s ready to be worked in? Grab a handful and squeeze — it should fall apart, not form a mud ball.

Follow these steps when preparing your soil:

Most plants are content with 6 to 8 inches of good ground for their roots to grow in.

If you’re planning to grow substantial root crops (potatoes, say, or carrots), go deeper still — up to a foot or more (yes, you can use a technique called hilling, where you mound up good soil around crops like potatoes, but this method doesn’t excuse your making a shallow vegetable garden).

Add lots and lots of organic matter! Try using compost, dehydrated cow manure, shredded leaves, well-rotted horse manure (call nearby stables), or a mixture. If your yard happens to be blessed with fertile soil, adding organic matter is less crucial, but most soils can stand the improvement. Mix it with the native soil, 50-50, or even more liberally.

Maybe your area’s soil is notoriously acidic, or very sandy, or quite obviously lousy for plant growth. The good news is that organic matter can be like a magic bullet in that it helps improve whatever you add it to. You have to replenish the organic matter at the start of every growing season or maybe even more often. (If the soil stubbornly resists improvement, resort to setting raised beds atop it and filling these bottomless boxes with excellent, organically rich soil.)

About the Book Author

Suzanne DeJohn is an editor with the National Gardening Association, the leading garden-based educational nonprofit organization in the U.S. NGA’s programs and initiatives highlight the opportunities for plant-based education in schools, communities, and backyards across the country. These include award-winning Web sites garden.org and kidsgardening.org.

The National Gardening Association (NGA) is committed to sustaining and renewing the fundamental links between people, plants, and the earth. Founded in 1972 as “Gardens for All” to spearhead the community garden movement, today’s NGA promotes environmental responsibility, advances multidisciplinary learning and scientifi c literacy, and creates partnerships that restore and enhance communities.
NGA is best known for its garden-based curricula, educational journals, international initiatives, and several youth garden grant programs. Together these reach more than 300,000 children nationwide each year. NGA’s Web sites, one for home gardeners and another for those who garden with kids, build community and offer a wealth of custom content.

I’m an avid gardener interested in all aspects of the growing process, from prepping my vegetable plot to making my own compost.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

So the end of the growing season is approaching, and a distinct change in the daily temperatures is becoming noticeable. The runner beans, courgettes, and tomatoes are starting to look a little “tired,” and their leaves are beginning to turn yellow as they struggle to produce the last few crops of the season. It is time to begin preparing your allotment for next year.

Store Late Crops and Compost Foliage

Whilst you wait for other final crops to be ready, such as cabbages, celery, brussels sprouts and parsnips (continuing to harvest as needed), you can lift and store your late potatoes, carrots, and onions (if you haven’t already done so). Any healthy foliage remaining on the plants can be added to your compost bin or heap ready to be used as compost in the future.

Remove Stones and Weeds

Now is a good time to go over the harvested areas and remove any obvious stones or perennial weeds to prevent them from causing you problems next spring. (As you continue to harvest your last crops and clear the plants, continue removing stones and perennial weeds from the newly harvested areas.)

Note: Do not add perennial weeds to your compost because they will most likely regrow in your allotment when you use the resulting compost.

Store Plant Markers and Fleece/Netting

Remove any plastic plant-row markers and either discard them or save for use again next year.

Fold up and store your redundant horticultural fleece and netting, as this too can be used again next year.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Store Bamboo Canes

By now your runner and French beans will more than likely have virtually stopped producing beans and may well have begun to die down. This is a good time to remove the bamboo canes for storage over the winter (same with those staking your tomato and cucumber plants). The easiest way to remove them quickly is to cut the string or ties that hold the canes together, then cut the plants stems at ground level. Lift the bottom of the canes out of the ground and then pulling from the bottom slide the canes free of the plants. Store your bamboo canes in a dry place such as a garden shed or garage as they will eventually become brittle and rotten if left exposed to the elements all year round.

Add Foliage and Plant Remains to the Compost Heap

Once you have done this, you will be left with a heap of foliage on the ground that can be added to your compost heap or bin. It is best to leave the roots of beans in the soil as they are rich in nitrogen nodules and will benefit whatever crop you choose to plant in that location next year.

Your tomato and cucumber plants can now be cut down and placed on the compost heap as well. The remains of any plants such as courgettes can also be cut and composted.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Harvest the Last Crops of the Season

Finish harvesting crops such as brussels sprouts, celery, leeks, and cabbages until you have an allotment free of crops. In the event you have crops that are later still, then you will have to delay the next stages until the land is clear, or alternatively follow the next steps in the free areas wherever possible.

Plow the Land and Spread Manure, Compost, or Seaweed

Depending on the size of the area your vegetable allotment covers, either rotavate the land yourself or have a tractor come in and plough over the land.

Arrange a delivery of either cow manure, well-rotted compost or seaweed (if you live near to the coast and can obtain it). The quantities you need will also depend on the area of land you need to cover so you may be able to collect it yourself, or if as in my case the area of land is large, get your local farmer to deliver it to you with a tractor and trailer.

Using a fork spread the manure, compost or seaweed thickly over the surface of the soil. Personally, I like to spread it at least 7 or 8 inches thick, especially as in the case of seaweed it is 90% water so it will rapidly shrink once it begins to dry out.

Clean, Oil, and Store Tools for Next Spring

You can now concentrate your efforts on cleaning, oiling and storing your garden tools in preparation for next spring.

Rotavate the Land When Spring Arrives!

When the spring arrives either rotavate the rotted manure into the soil yourself or if the area is substantial, pay your local tractor driver to rotavate it in for you.

After this, you can prepare your land as normal by raking, etc., to get ready for planting up as the weather warms up.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Note: This article has been written on the assumption you are growing organically and not relying on weedkillers to control your weeds or artificial fertlisers to feed the vegetables growing on your allotment or vegetable plot.

If you prefer not to dig your land every year you might try the No-Dig method as an alternative.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Cindy Lawson

Comments

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 24, 2017:

Thanks Linda, really pleased if this has inspired you to prepare for next year 🙂

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 23, 2017:

Thanks for sharing all of the helpful advice. The photos of the produce are lovely. Combined with your instructions, they definitely make me think of the garden jobs that I should do to get ready for next year!

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 22, 2017:

Sorry, you’ve lost me diogenes. My sense of humour is intact and you haven’t offended me. Not sure what you are referring to! Can you clarify?

diogenes from UK and Mexico on November 22, 2017:

Sorry, Misty. I knew you when you had a sense of humor. My comment was addressed to that, not meant to offend you Bob

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 22, 2017:

Thanks John, really pleased you liked this. I am passionate about growing vegetables and love to share my techniques.

John R Wilsdon from Superior, Arizona on November 22, 2017:

Super hub on preparing your garden. That photo of the string beans has got me hungry for the same. I live in Arizona and make my own compost. Needless to say, it doesn’t have a lot of seaweed in it, but my fruit trees provide plenty of leaves that are rich. Thanks for the great article and photos.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

1. Get Rid of All Dead Vegetation
By the time summer has faded, your garden is likely to be a bit of a mess. If it is, while the task ahead can seem overwhelming, take it one bed at a time to make it at least seem a bit easier. First, take note of any damage, as a garden can tell you a lot at the end of the growing season. Assess the results of your hard work over the spring and summer by taking a walk around your garden, and looking at how all of your plants did. Write down successes and failures of individual plants so you don’t forget next year, and identify which plants have outgrown their space and need to be divided.

Getting rid of all dead plant material, rotten fruits and vegetables is a must, as some diseases, like late blight, and certain pests can live on what’s left in the garden, such as fruit and foliage. If any of your plants have developed blight, mildew or mold, be sure to burn them to avoid spreading it rather than tossing them in a compost pile.

3. Eradicate Those Weeds
Weeding is a necessary evil, and it’s important to get them out before the seeds begin to fall. Getting a handle on them now is important for slowing growth and keeping them from getting ahead of you when spring comes around. Remember that weeds that are spread by seed produce thousands of more seeds – for example, redwood pigweed can bear up to 117,000 seeds per plant. If even half of those pigweed seedlings germinate next spring, you’d have an astounding 58,000 pigweed plants to pull.

We know, we know. It’s not easy to do, and despite all of our advanced modern technology, there is still no better way to do it than to pull them all out by hand. But, you will get some good exercise. Be sure to get the root out along with the weed, wear tough garden gloves, and consider getting a comfy sitting pad if you have lots to weed. If you can, pull the weed from its base, so that you get the root and weed all at once, but if that’s not possible, you can use a fork to pry the root out of the ground.

4. Add Mulch & Compost
Once you’ve rid your garden of dead vegetation and weeds, add a 1” to 2” layer of finished compost and lightly cover the beds with old mulch to help protect the soil and suppress weeds. The goal is for the soil to freeze, if it’s possible in your area, as pests and many diseases will be killed when the ground is frozen. If you add too much mulch, it could prevent this process.

5. Clear Out Your Compost Bins
When you clean up your garden beds, you’ll naturally have a lot of material going into the compost heap. That makes now a good time to clear out the compost from last year and use it around your garden to make room in the bins for this season’s waste.

8. Take Care of Those Tender Species Long Before Frost Hits
If you have tender species like begonias and dahlias, be sure to take them out of the ground before the first threat of frost. Cut back the stems and then gently lift them out, clean them of soil and then store them in trays of sand or dry compost, leaving just the top of the crown visible. Keep the trays in a cool place that isn’t subject to frost until they can be replanted when the warmer months arrive. If you live in a very mild area where there is no concern of freezing, you may be able to protect them without taking them out of the ground by covering the crowns with a thick blanket of mulch.

9. Test Your Soil
Now is the perfect time to test your soil to find out if it can be improved by adding nutrients and/or adjusting its pH level. Testing your soil not only reveals its pH but levels of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, as well as organic matter and lead content. If the pH needs to be adjusted, lime is a great addition and it’s especially beneficial to use in the fall as it will have all winter to dissolve into the soil. Your soil’s pH level is important as it can be critical to a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients. Most minerals and nutrients are optimally available to plants that are in soils that have a pH of between 6.5 and 6.8. If the soil is acidic, meaning at or below 6.0, or alkaline, with a pH above 7.0, the plants will not be able to absorb nutrients.

You can pick up an inexpensive test kit from this page on Amazon or at most home improvement and garden stores.

11. Clean Out Your Garden Shed or Storage Area & Prepare Your Garden Equipment
This is also the perfect time for cleaning up your garden shed or other garden storage area. If you have any old chemicals, first research how to get rid of them responsibly and then properly toss them out. And, if you haven’t done so already, look for ways to avoid them next spring when taking note of what you may need to replenish.

If you have a greenhouse, don’t use it to store any of your garden tools, seed boxes, or old plant labels, etc. as it’s important to keep it clean and healthy. These items can harbor pests and other diseases. You’ll also want to be sure the glass on the inside and outside is cleaned regularly, which will enable you to maximize the short hours of daylight in the winter.

Tending to your gardening equipment and tools is a must too, as it’s important to keep them well-maintained by preparing them for the colder months of the year. You’ll need to clean them all thoroughly before storing them for the off-season. Wash off any caked dirt and coat wooden handles with linseed oil to prevent them from drying out and cracking. Tools like shears and secateurs will need to be sharpening – you can do it yourself or send them to a professional. Take a close look at all of your tools and equipment to determine if any of them need to be repaired or replaced before spring.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Spring is such an exciting time; it’s an excuse to start fresh. Why not make good use of this time and start to expertly prepare your garden for spring?

Here are a few tips for getting the best jump start on spring gardening.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

1. Clear your garden of dead leaves and weeds

Flowers and other plants prefer a tidy place to grow in, so make sure you have a tidy plot of soil for them. If you have perennial plants, cut back the dead growth. Dig up around 2.5 to 3 inches of organic matter (i.e. compost, etc.) and dispose.

2. Plan ahead for summer-flowering plants

To make sure you get beautiful, blooming plants and a colorful display in the summertime, start planting them in early spring.

3. Scrub down your greenhouse or Urban Cultivator

If you grow your plants in a greenhouse, make sure to wash it down before spring arrives. Sweep the floors and benches, and even consider using a mild disinfectant for the inside of the glass so as to get rid of any pests that could potentially harm your plants. Be thorough! They can live in the tiniest of nooks and crannies. Make sure you ventilate your greenhouse for at least a few days before you plant your greens.

If you have an Urban Cultivator, cleaning it should be a part of your monthly maintenance—not just spring! This, of course, also means that you can plant all winter long.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

4. Clean your gardening tools

As they say, cleanliness is next to godliness, so make sure your gardening tools are in tip-top shape. Just like your greenhouse, they may also carry bugs or diseases, so give them a good scrub as well to ensure they don’t have a chance to infect your plants.

5. Remove any unwanted pests

This is not a euphemism; get rid of any hibernating pests such as aphids, slugs, and snails now so that they don’t even have the opportunity to get at your plants. One bug to look for in particular is the white vine weevil larvae (not pictured, simply because they are just too gruesome-looking). They live in the compost and will, without a doubt, feed on plant roots.

When you grow in an Urban Cultivator, pests are a non-issue as it’s a completely enclosed unit!

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

6. Look for a variety of ways to get your seeds, and plant a variety of seeds

Ask a neighbour for old seedlings, check out seeds you’ve never planted before at hardware stores, or get cuttings from a friend. The possibilities are endless! But be sure to read up on what kind of plants you’re getting in your garden; some plants do not play nice with others, and will take up an entire plot. Plan your garden plot on paper so you know exactly where everything will grow.

Urban Cultivator offers a wide variety of seeds, including lesser known ones like nasturtium and red veined sorrel. Plus, you can restock anytime by heading to our online store.

7. But don’t get ahead of yourself

Be patient. Don’t rush your plants, and try to give them an easy transition. Take your seedlings outside and continue to water them in their trays for a week or two. Eventually, they’ll acclimate to the outdoor environment.

If you’re growing with an Urban Cultivator, there’s no need to rush because the greens take as little as a week to grow. Not only can you grow throughout the winter, but it’s also a lot faster than growing outdoors.

Hopefully with these tips, you’ll get a nice head start on preparing your garden for spring planting.

With an Urban Cultivator, you can grow fresh vegetables, herbs year-round. You’ll have the freedom of growing an enormous variety of produce 365 days a year!

Growing in an Urban Cultivator is quick and easy, and will save you a bundle of time while guaranteeing lush, flavorful, and nutritious food.

Got tips for preparing your garden for spring planting? Let us know in the comments section!

Hi! I’ve signed up for a community garden plot. The county will till the soil in late March, and after that, we can all access our plots to get them ready for planting. Can you recommend what to do before the planting season — both to enrich the soil and to discourage weeds? I’ve read about a few ideas: 1. Plant a cover crop. If this is possible, this would be my preference. Is there any kind of cover crop to use in early April? 2. Use an organic / plant-based mulch. What would you suggest? I’m on a budget. 🙂 a. I’d prefer to not use large bark chips, especially if those attract slugs. b. How about “pine fines” or something like that? 3. Put down landscape fabric to suppress weeds. However, according to the PBS program Growing a Greener World, it appears that landscape fabric causes water to pool up or run off. Doesn’t the soil need the water, before it’s time to plant? 4. Plastic. To me, this seems worse than landscape fabric. 5. Allow the weeds to grow, and remove them when it’s time to plant the garden. 6. Other options? Thanks for your advice!

Montgomery County Maryland

5 Responses

You have an exciting season coming up!
The reason that they are tilling in late March is because cold weather crops can actually be planted outdoors in late March and early April.
Cover crops are most often planted in late summer to protect the ground from erosion during the winter season. There are spring planted cover crops (buckweat and Dutch white clover), but you probably are going to want to use your whole space eventually. You can use any organic matter for mulch. For walkways and areas that you are not ready to plant yet, all of your options are ok, and you can even put down several layers of newspaper and cover them with shredded mulch or leaves, pine fines, straw etc., and then plant right thru later.
Additions of aged manure, compost, Leaf Gro, are one of the best things you can do for your plot.
If you are not aware of the vegetable growing portion of our website, Grow It, Eat It, take a look. Here is a great page to get started: Best Practices: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/earth-friendly/best-practices-food-gardening
It will have all the information you need to get a good start, and assistance all season long, with crop profiles, common pest/disease problems, blogs from other gardeners, etc.
For instance, here is the page that has charts to tell you what to plant when in our area, possible garden plans and vegetable profile pages that tell you all about the needs of each crop, including when and how to harvest: http://extension.umd.edu/growit/vegetable
You should also know that there are MANY helpful videos on our site here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/UMDHGIC

Thank you for the very prompt and detailed response! The Grow It, Eat It site looks great! You just saved me a lot of time researching. 🙂

Just an fyi, the Montgomery County community gardens don’t allow newspaper mulch.

One follow up question, which might be answered elsewhere: I’d really like to grow a couple of heirloom tomato plants which are going to be tall. From Growing a Greener World and other sources, I understand that retail tomato cages won’t hold up if the plants get heavy or it’s windy. And, I won’t be able to climb a ladder to pick the tomatoes at the top of a large trellis.

SO, could I use something like hardware cloth in an arch shape that the plant could grow up and over? I would anchor the ends of the arch with garden staples, stakes, or cinder blocks. I would plant the tomatoes in the center of the garden.
Yes. I realize this question is rather off-the-wall. 🙂

I also just did a search online for trellis ideas.

How about two sections of fencing or livestock panels, fastened together at the top to form a pup tent shape? Would that be stable without requiring a lot of work?

What have you used, when growing indeterminate tomato plants in a relatively small space?

Hi! Just found this on the Growing a Greener World site:

and a video showing what appears to be rather easy:

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

CC0 Public Domain/pxhere.com

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The homesteading movement of the 1960s started gaining popularity again in the early 2000s. Even if being a full-time farmer isn’t for you, running a small farm is a great way to provide the best vegetables for your family. If you’ve recently purchased land or decided to use the land you already own to start your own small farm, the next step is to get it ready for said farming. Cultivation of land involves preparing the soil for crops or animals.

This can seem overwhelming if you have never done it before, but we’ve laid out the simplest steps to get you started. You may need to seek more details on individual steps, but this will give you an overview of the basics for land cultivation on a farm.

Start With Your Soil

Before you start plowing up sod, it’s important to know what kind of soil you are working with. You’ll want to start by testing your soil. This enables you to improve it and amend it as needed for growing the best crops and pasture grasses for animals. The first steps to prepare your land for planting involve looking at soil texture and fertility and adjusting it as needed. Learn more about soil to make the most of your farm.

How to Prepare the Land for Planting

Tilling your land for planting a large vegetable garden or crops can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. For small acreage (under two to three acres), you can use a PTO-driven tiller on your tractor to till the soil. You can also hire someone to do the plowing, disking and harrowing.

Install Fencing for Animals

If you’re thinking of adding animals to your farm, it’s a good idea to install fences to keep your animals away from your neighbors and protect them from predators. There are many types of fencing, both electric and non-electric, for containing farm animals. The type you choose is going to depend upon the animal itself. Goats require a high fence because they can jump and they love to do it! Cows need only a few single strands of electric wire to keep them in a pasture. Poultry and sheep can be temporarily contained with portable “electric netting,” a plastic mesh with electrified wires embedded in it that is easily set up and moved.

After choosing the type of fencing you need, the next step is installing the fence posts. A post hole auger for your tractor makes the job easier, but there are also manual post hole diggers you can purchase or rent. For electric netting, simply push each post into the ground as you go.

Electric fencing requires a charger which can be connected to electric power or run on solar power or batteries. The size of the charger is determined by how much fencing you have and the “brush load” or the amount of brush and grasses that will be touching the fence. Learn more about the types of fencing you can install on your farm.

By: Julie Richards

21 September, 2017

An open field presents many possibilities for planting. Whether putting in a cash crop or tending the field to make ready for vegetables, steps must be taken to prepare the field for planting. Thought must go into the process before the first tractor tire hits the soil to create the proper growing medium for the chosen harvest.

Determine the use for the field before plowing and tilling. Certain growing systems, like conservation tilling, do not require the field be plowed and tilled. The new seed is sown directly into the stubble of the last crop. Time and the elements work together to compost the layers as the crops grow.

  • An open field presents many possibilities for planting.
  • Whether putting in a cash crop or tending the field to make ready for vegetables, steps must be taken to prepare the field for planting.

Plow up the field for new crops or for growing an organic cash crop. Turn the top layers of soil under so weeds and debris lay under a layer of soil. It may take two or three times to plow the field so the entire top layer has been turned.

Remove any rocks from the field to keep from damaging the disc blades and rake during the next steps of preparing the field for planting. Rocks tend to dull blades and tines of garden implements.

Till the field so the soil is loosened for planting. Two or three passes with the tiller opens up the soil and further breaks down any unwanted vegetation that may still be trying to grow. Apply fertilizer and/or herbicides at this time, if desired. For organic gardening, only apply natural products or those recognized to be safe for certified organic growing.

  • Plow up the field for new crops or for growing an organic cash crop.
  • Remove any rocks from the field to keep from damaging the disc blades and rake during the next steps of preparing the field for planting.

Rake the soil in the field to produce a fine soil bed for planting. The rake smooths out the large clumps of soil and makes the planting surface level. Set the plow to create furrows for planting and plant the seeds or plants desired.

Avoid large time lapses between plowing, discing, and raking to keep weeds from coming back before the seed crop has a chance to germinate and start growing.

For safety reasons, always let someone know where you are on the farm equipment during its usage.

If you want to create a large vegetable garden by turning soil for a seedbed that hasn’t been turned before, then a Frontier One-Bottom Plow (US CA) is exactly the tool you need.

But first, here are a few things to think about and do before you stake out and plow your garden.

Expect success.
Big gardens are capable of producing big harvests. So have a plan for how you’ll harvest your crops and what you intend to do with all those vegetables, season after season.

Check your soil.
Not all soil has been created equal. Soils that are too sandy, have too much clay, or don’t drain well will not produce as much as soil that has the right texture and makeup. Call your county extension office and ask about using a soil test kit. It can help you determine what type of soil you have so you know how to improve it if necessary.

Water.
Mother Nature may, or may not provide all the water and nourishment your garden needs. So think about how you could supplement her best efforts, just in case.

Weather.
Specifically, know when the projected dates for the first and last frosts of the growing season are. There are a variety of online resources for finding this information for your area.

Time to get started.
First, stake out where you want your large vegetable garden to be. If you’re planning on using a plow attached to your tractor’s 3-point hitch to break that never-been-broken-before soil, then you’re probably planning to create a garden that is at least 30 feet (9.1 m) wide by 50 feet (15.24 m) long. That area is called the “land.” The ground just beyond the end of the furrows you’ll plow is called the “headland.” Make sure you have enough headland space at both ends for your tractor to turn around comfortably to make the return passes. About 10 feet should do it.

Next, make sure your plow is level with the ground, side-to-side and front-to-back. Adjust the top link and lift arm as necessary.

Plow your first furrow down the center of your garden area. Raise the plow, turn around, and put the right rear tractor tire in that furrow. Then adjust the lift arm to bring the plow to level again. Proceed to dig this next furrow with the tractor tire in the first furrow. Your plow should now be throwing soil into the first furrow you cut. When you get to the end, raise the plow again, turn around to the right again, place the right tractor tire in the center furrow, and cut your next furrow. Continue in this fashion, always turning right, always putting your right rear tire in a previously plowed furrow until you’ve plowed your entire garden.

You can use your one-bottom plow to create a large vegetable garden anytime. For ideal soil for planting, consider plowing your new garden in the fall and let the overturned vegetation begin to decompose while the ground temperatures are still warm. In the spring, it will be ready for you to use a rotary tiller to break up all the large dirt clods and create a beautifully smooth seedbed for you to start planting.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

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On this week’s Row by Row Garden Show, the guys talk about preparing ground for spring gardens. They discuss several techniques depending on what equipment you have available.

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On this week’s Row by Row Garden Show, the guys talk about preparing ground for spring gardens. They discuss several techniques depending on what equipment you have available.

Get Your Cauliflower Seeds here:

Get your Hoss merchandise here:

Check out our other pages:

Website – https://hosstools.com
Facebook – https://facebook.com/hosstools
Instagram – https://instagram.com/hossgardentools
Twitter – https://twitter.com/toolshoss

If you click away from our site to any of our affiliate partners we may earn a small percentage of any subsequent purchase you may make without raising the price to you. Thank you.

How to Prepare a Garden Plot

Get Your Cauliflower Seeds here:

Get your Hoss merchandise here:

Check out our other pages:

Website – https://hosstools.com
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Instagram – https://instagram.com/hossgardentools
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