Spring Garden Preparation:Green Guide Tips

  1. Location, location, location: This is an important factor when starting a garden. How much sun does the area get in the morning and afternoon?  Does it have shade over part of the garden? You will have to think briefly about what kinds of plants you will be planting, full sun, partial sun or shade plants? Typically vegetables need 6 to 8 hours of full sun a day. I would also be thinking about garden convenence. How far is the walk to get to your garden? Picking parsley for tonight’s dinner is easier if it’s closer to your house. Try to avoid areas that have toxic materials, known dumping grounds or high pesticide residue which can affect the quality of the food you are growing. At this moment soil quality isn’t as important, soil can be improved through additives like manure, sand and organic matter. You can also choose to use raised box garden bedding.
  2. How do you prepare the ground: Well, if you are starting from scratch, you will need to remove the grass. You can cut up grass in rows and replant in your yard. I have done this in low lying areas, where water builds up. If you want a raised bed garden you will need something to contain the dirt. Cedar ties or cement boxes may help. A good way to  find out the type of soil you have is picking up a soil testing kit. This way you will know what you have to add to make it a fertile soil.  Next, you should turn the soil over or till the soil. Then, at this point you may want to add some organic matter such as sawdust, hay or grass clippings. Finally, to help keep weeds under control you will need weed block landscaping fabric.   
  3. What do you want to grow:  Do you want strictly vegetables? Would you like a flower bed that incorporates herbs or just an herb garden?  You can choose strawberry plants or berry bushes. You will need to group your choices into full sun, partial sun and shade. Also look at what type of soil is needed. You may want to group your plants this way. Grouping  will help you decide what to do with the plot of ground you are working with.
  4. Do you prefer a conventional or organic garden: This decision is important, it will help you when choosing watering options, seed selections, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. There are many selections of both types. Conventional gardens use more toxic chemicals in the soil and on the plant. Organic gardens utilize natural fertilizers and pesticides such as Organic Miracle Grow or certain insect’s to get rid of an aphid problem.  You receive less toxic chemicals on your harvest and in the fruit itself.
  5. Best sources of watering: There is always the single can watering style, but for larger gardens this is a lot of extra work. You can set up a sprinkler system that goes off with a timer or use a hose. You also have the option of putting in an underground watering system. Run hoses under the dirt through the rows and when you turn on the water it only goes to the roots of the plant. Saving water for future use and saving you money. When you have high sun you should not be watering. The water evaporates  to quickly.
  6. How are you going to approach the  job of weeding and pruning:  You can pick a time to weed and water daily. A hoe or small rake will work very well with weeding, you won’t have to bend and stress your back. You are just looking to turn over the roots of emerging plants in the middle of the rows plus picking out any plants near the base of your seedlings. Being careful not to cut into the seedling roots.  Pruning starts after your seedlings come up. Having 12 plants within a 2 inch space will not work so you must thin or prune them out. When your plants get larger you may want to prune off leaves towards the bottom of the plant depending on the plant type. You might want to get the family involved in this, it's a great job that can be worked as a team giving you the opportunity for family time.
  7. Bringing in the harvest:  Now you have nurtured your baby plants till they have been pollinated and created fruit. How do you know when to pick the fruit? Each type of fruit is different. Generally your seeds will come with a length of time for germination till harvest. Follow that first. If in doubt check this out…Here

Talk with other gardeners on Green Guide Tips Forum Start with Seven in 2011 – #3

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