This will be my fifth year growing my own food. In all honesty, I have had my fair share of awful gardening experiences! But the hard work of watching your food growing in your back yard easily trumps them. If I would have written down everything I did wrong it would definitely bring some laughter to this post.
The best memory I have is growing broccoli, which I am going to tackle again this year. I watched this little plant grow into an enormous plant (yes, it takes up quite a bit of room) and then harvested what I thought to be the most pathetic head of broccoli I had ever seen. Quite frankly, I didn’t care. I grew that pathetic head of broccoli! Before throwing it into a pan to cook, I noticed it was covered in little green worms…disgusting. Cabbage worms. I knew nothing about them, now I know everything about them. Needless to say I was just too horrified to eat that broccoli.
I wanted to start off by sharing one of the most important steps in gardening: your dirt. The success of your garden depends on making healthy garden soil. The more you can do to keep your soil healthy, the more productive your garden will be and the higher the quality of your crops.
Begin Soil Preparation by Digging out the Area of your Vegetable Garden
Create the perimeter first by digging the edge of the garden. Remove the top layer of sod with a shovel. If the area is not a grassy spot, then just remove weeds, rocks and debris and be sure this area has full sun!
This is probably my favorite part. For some odd reason I love tilling! Tilling the soil breaks it up and prepares it for planting. Till the soil 12-inches down. Using a rototiller will make this process faster than if you do it by hand. I rent mine from Home Depot every year and return it usually the next day.
This is a picture from my first garden 4 years ago. It was a massive space and took half a day to cultivate, but I have never been able to yield such good greens since!
Mix some Fertilizer into the Soil to Prepare it for Growing Vegetables Successfully
Opt for compost, humus or manure. If these are not available, an organic soil from a garden store will do. Space the bags out on top of the plowed ground. Break open the bags and pour the compost onto the ground, spreading the fertilizer around the area with a rake. Work the compost into the tilled ground by piercing the cultivated soil at least 6 inches down with a shovel and turning the soil to break it up.
Allow the Cultivated Soil to sit for a Couple of Days Before Planting
You can turn the soil daily if you wish, but the process is not necessary if you turned the soil adequately already.
Ideally you should prepare vegetable garden soil with compost 2 seasons ahead of the time you plant your vegetables.
No worries if you haven’t been composting for the past two years! Although this is the time needed for the compost to break down and greatly improve your soil. Why not start your compost pile this year?
Composting is a quick and easy way to create new soil for your next years garden. It reduces the bulk of organic materials, stabilizes their more volatile and soluble nutrients, and speeds up the formation of soil humus.
|What to Compost|
Choose What you Want to Grow
Once you have chosen your garden location, prepared your soil and left it to set for a few days, you can start planting. Be sure to sit down before and write down where you want to place every thing to make sure you have adequate room for them to grow.
If this is your first time, stick to the basics like lettuce, pepper and tomatoes. Herbs are always easy to grow and hard to kill 😉 In my next post I will share my simple steps for planting, stay tuned!