Proper preparation will improve your vegetable yield and the health of your garden over the years. Especially if you're planing on planting vegetables like carrots, peas, snowpeas, kale, chard, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, cranberries or other cold-weather crops, they all require proper planing and care.
Get Organized! Create a perimeter and remove sod layer. You may want to consider a raised bed, as they offer better soil control, more efficient watering and less bending over. Note, that you will still need to till beneath the raised portion, otherwise the plants will not be able to send roots through it.
A professional soil mixture analysis is often a good idea. This will give a pH result and let you know what nutrients your soil lacks. Most veggies and flowers like a slightly acidic soil with a 6.2 – 7.0 pH. Soil that is more acidic than this will need the addition of lime. Calcitic lime will increase pH, and dolomitic lime will increase pH while adding magnesium. Decreasing pH, if needed, calls for garden sulfur, which comes in pelleted or granular varieties.
Till your soil down to 1 ft. depth which will mix the soil and introduces air. Remove stones and other debris as you go. Mix lime and/or other needed fertilizer into the soil. Rake fertilizer over the top of the garden, then work in with shovel or tiller. A composted manure and leaf mold/mycorrhizal fungi helps accumulates carbon in the soil, improves clumping ability and helps plants take up more phosphorus. While a home composting might be too 'fresh' and restrict your plants nutritional absorption. At Blue Seal we pride ourselves on having only the best locally produced brands of fertilizer and compost ready and waiting to meet all your gardening needs. Put the top layer back and dig it in to a depth of about 6 inches. This is called “double-digging” and it helps to protect your newly-created soil mixture from being harmed by sun, wind and rain.
Allow everything to settle for a few days. While you're waiting, plan ahead: have an idea of how your garden will look and how much space your plants will require.
Need more space? Sky's the limit! Use trellises, fences, stakes or cages to assist vertically-inclined crops upward, leaving more ground level real estate for other plants. Vining crops that will take to upwardly mobile treatment include cucumbers, melons, squash, peas, tomatoes and pole beans. Vertical spaces allow easier monitoring of plant growth, better sunning and easier harvesting. We recommend situating trellises along the North side of the garden in order to allow sun access to other garden plants.
Needs some more garden ideas? Stop by your local Blue Seal store and we'll be happy to help or just to show you around our complete stock of local limes, fertilizers, trellises, plants, seeds and so much more!