Getting the garden ready

 Friday June 06, 2003


This really begins with  last yearís garden from the past Fall.  It is important to remove old plants and debris (like boards lying on the ground) to prevent allot of  bugs the following spring.  Donít  put old corn, melon and tomato plants in your compost pile. Throw them away from your garden as they contain next yearís bug eggs.   Fall is when I also adjust the gardenís  Ph  (lime or sulfur as needed). 



Spring time

Step 1 Ė plan the garden 

            When - Our area in Southeastern Ohio has 3 unique growing seasons.

      Spring & Fall  seasons favor cole crops like radishes, carrots, spinach,

          cabbage, lettuce, peas & etc. 

      Summerís hotter and dryer climate favors crops like tomatoes, corn, peppers,

          cucumbers, melons & pumpkins, beans and etc.


 Where -  Nowadays all my garden is in full sunshine.  At my other house that

        was not the case.  Some crops need full sun.  Also consider where you will

        place your taller crops (eg. corn).  Growing  taller crops on the South side of

        the garden will shield those nearby crops on the North side from most of the



  How much Ė Experts estimate one tomato plant per person in a family.  Of 

         course there are those of us that extend that by canning  produce for winter.

         Once I grew over 300 pounds of cabbage.  I couldnít  ever eat all of that! 

         Fortunately there was a local food bank that took most of  it.   


Experiment Ė I have standard varieties of  crops I grow every year.  However, I also

         try one or two new varieties every year.  Originally Iíd  test several varieties of 

         one crop every year.  For example all that cabbage (mentioned above)  occurred

         the year I  tested cabbage.  The next year I tested tomatoes. 

Another year I tested lettuce, then pepper plants and etc.  I still grew a variety

of  produce but featured one crop in particular every year.



Step 2 Ė prepare the soil

            I make one pass with my Troybuilt tiller to start breaking up the soil.

            Next I spread granular fertilizer  like  9-23-30

            Then comes a little Epson Salts and Concrete (aka Magnesium & Calcium) for

               the tomato, pepper and eggplants.

            Make one more pass with the tiller.  By now Iím tilling around 6 inches deep.

            Now comes the compost.  I donít have a lot so it only goes where plants will be.

   (no need to waste it on footpaths)

Till that in



Step 3 Ė prepare the planting bed

            Because I donít have allot of time to walk about pulling weeds all summer,

I use weed block fabric and mulch.  Some years Iíve buried a soaker type hose

underground too, for efficient watering in summerís heat.


Donít  add lime and fertilizer at the same time.  They will chemically react and

neutralize the nitrogen in the fertilizer.    


My gardenís  footpaths are about 3 feet wide.  That provides room for the plants

to spread out, and still lets me walk by with the tiller for weed control.



Step 4 Ė structures

I grow my tomatoes inside round wire cages.  I bought a roll of concrete reinforcing wire (very heavy) and shaped it into about 30 one foot diameter cages.  This type of wire works well because it has openings big enough to reach your hand into and get the tomatoes.  Due to high wind gusts I tether the cages to a long strip of wood using  bailing twine.  The long wood strip is then attached to outrigger posts for lateral stability.


Melons grow best on black plastic.  They will rot if left to contact our local soil.  Plus the black colored plastic gets the soil a lot hotter; something the melons love.  


Lima beans are about the only pole bean I still grow (rest are bush).   I have made several  A-shaped  vertical supports.  Two A-shaped supports are spaced about 8 feet apart.  Between them run 3 horizontal  boards (one along the top, 2 on bottom).  These horizontal boards have roofing nails every 6 inches.  I next weave bailing twine around each boardís nail and up to the top boardís nails.   This creates an  compact trellis for  many more  lima beans than you could ever grow in the same space with two structures of the traditional 4 pole Tee-Pee way.