Getting prepared for your spring vegetable garden


Now that winter is evaporating, it’s time to turn our ideas to spring up and vegetable gardens.

There’s preparation and plotting to do about everything you’re likely to develop and where and if you’ll plant it. Preparation of in-ground beds, raised beds and containers is about the list, also. And it’s time to begin some seed inside, sow others at the still-chilly floor and extent out neighborhood nurseries and internet firms for seedlings we could plant if the weather warms up. (And here you believed February was a slow month!)

In past month’s Gardening 101 webinar, Contra Costa Master Gardener Janet Miller and that I scraped the gardening surface, but there’s much more to tell. So let’s begin with the lowdown on the best way best to prepare your soil for planting. (You’ll discover links to other gardening issues and into the recorded webinar in the conclusion of this narrative.)

Location, place, place

Thinking of planting a vegetable garden this season? For summer and spring vegetable gardens, Miller states you’ll want to opt for the sunniest place in your lawn. Popular veggies, such as tomatoes and peppers, require eight hours of sunshine every day.

That stated, there’s such a thing as too much sun. If you’ve got an extremely hot and bright lawn, you might have to shield plants using shade fabric, a unique material which allows a specific proportion of sunlight through the plants. Don’t use color cloth that’s more powerful than 50 per cent, Miller states — anything much more opaque than this may rob plants of significant light.

Shade cloth can also help prevent sun scald or sunburn tomatoes and peppers.

Prepping containers and beds

Whether you’re likely an expansive in-ground backyard, some raised beds or pots and grow bags, getting the soil ready to get seeds and seedlings is vital. It’s about promoting easy-to-cultivate dirt — or tilth. Basically, plants such as soil which is simple for their own roots to proceed through and rich in the nutrients which can sustain them as they develop and create.

Gardening tendencies nowadays prefer the idle backyard. Gone will be the times of digging 24 inches and then turning the ground. Rototilling seems like a fantastic idea in concept, but in fact , it destroys the tilth. In our clay soilsrototilling will polish the base layer, which makes it difficult for plant roots and water to penetrate. And microbes residing in the dirt, which help encourage your plants, don’t like being upset.

Instead, you’ll want to add compost and mulch into the upper layer of dirt and gently work it in. And, Miller states, you’ll have to keep something growing on your beds year round, even when you simply plant a cover crop — crops which help shield the soil from erosion and then put nutrients back into the soil. Their roots also help the tilth.

(So does this mean that you wasted money on a rototiller? Yes, yes it will.)

Fertilizer — a backyard requirement

Testing your dirt annually or every few years can allow you to identify exactly what nutrients may be lacking on your soil, and also help guide your selection of fertilizer.

Steer, chicken or horse manure — that is best? All manures have advantages. Chicken manure has a greater nitrogen element, so it’s particularly great to grow your baskets and beds.

Beware any manure which hasn’t yet been aged. Fresh chicken manure has much nitrogen, it may actually burn your crops. And understand the origin. If you receive absolutely free horse manure from the neighbor, be sure they haven’t been handling the horses for almost any sickness or ailment, which may pass in exactly the manure. It’s the same with steer manure. Make certain it comes from cows that aren’t being pumped up with hormones.

Compost, mulch, compost

The mantra of anglers everywhere: Compost your baskets and beds.

You will create your own by using a composter or handling compost piles. Non-diseased cuttings from plants and veggies, kitchen scraps, dried leaves and even shredded paper can go into your mulch pile. It’s a slow process but the end product is worth it. With the nourishment out of these cuttings and scraps focused on your mulch, it will now feed your plants.

The option is to purchase compost from nurseries, home improvement shops and sanitation districts. When buying compost, browse the packaging. You’re searching for diversity of components but no longer than 20 percent manure.

Mulch, mulch, mulch

This is the next mantra of anglers everywhere. Adding a layer of compost to your baskets and beds will help shield the soil from the harsher elements, maintain moisture in and nourish your plants as the mulch breaks down.

Technically, mulch is whatever covers the dirt, such as stones, shredded plastic or plastic. For gardening, however, select organic mulches which will decay over the years in order that they have the additional advantage of feeding the dirt. Wood chips are a popular option, since is straw — although maybe not hay, which may contain seeds.

Not each plant has to be mulched, but each plant will gain from it.

Do grass clippings make great mulch? Sort of, however they have a tendency to break down really quickly, which restricts their mulching advantages. If you’ve applied pesticides to your lawn, don’t use these grass clippings as mulch or on your own compost.

But wait, there’s more

Find a listing of the past Gardening 101 webinar on our YouTube station, together with the former session on growing herbs. Sign up to your Upcoming free gardening practice, which includes author and landscape designer Susan Morrison talking how to make gardens in Tiny spaces on March 11, at

Check these other Q&As in the Gardening 101 webinar:

What to grow

How to grow tomatoes

Garden Q&A: Questions about plants

Best gardening practices

General gardening questions

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