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).
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.