This time of year the only thing us gardeners think about is the garden! Because “the garden” is such a broad subject in itself we are really thinking of all kinds of things like timing, soil, seeds, cuttings, and list could go on! One of the main tasks I need to accomplish is preparing my vegetable garden. Preparing the vegetable garden for planting is a tasks that must be accomplished every year in order to have a fantastic harvest. Spending extra time now, before you’ve planted, will save you time and problems later! For today’s Friday Fives lets take a look at five things everyone should do to prepare their gardens for planting.
5 Things To Do to Prepare Your Garden
- Perhaps the most important part of preparing the garden is helping the soil. The soil is where all the nutrients the plants need are found. The best thing to add is compost. Compost adds beneficial microbes, improves soil water holding capacity, improves soil structure, and adds nutrients to deficient soil areas. Work the compost into the top layers of soil and allow the rain and water to spread it into the lower layers of your garden.
- Also in the soil improvement area is adding amendments. If you’ve had a heavy feeder like tomatoes in an area before you will most likely need to add a good mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to replace what was used last year. This would be a good time to mention getting a soil test since your local agricultural extension services can custom analyze your soil for what you want to grow. If you tell them you want to grow blueberries they will analyze the soil and tell you what you need to add!
Grass clippings as mulch
Plan for mulching! Mulching is an extremely important technique because it will save you water and feeds the soil at the same time. Organic mulches break down over time and add to your garden’s soil. I’ve used grass clippings for several years as a mulch but straw is a good one too. If you choose to use grass clippings make sure you have an untreated lawn without weed seeds. If herbicides or pesticides are present in your grass clippings they may transfer to your garden. I’ve used hardwood mulches on my raised beds before but it is much more expensive than a few bales of straw.
- Prepare your paths! A good layout of your vegetable garden will allow you to reach all areas of the garden without too much difficulty. Plan pathways so that you can reach the insides of beds without trampling too much on the soil which can create compaction.
- Prepare your garden’s irrigation! If you live in an area that gets irregular rainfall at times then a supplemental way to irrigate is essential. Always bottom water. Watering from above can create a great environment for propagating fungi and diseases. I use soaker hoses and drip irrigation. After planting my summer vegetables I arrange my water lines to go to the base of the plants that need the water. Then I go back and cover with mulch which keeps the moisture in the soil – where it needs to be. If the rains slow down in the summer (which usually happens in July-September) I have a way to save the garden.
These five garden preparation tasks will help you have a great garden. Don’t forget them! How is your garden preparation coming?