I've been asked many many times to start a Gardening for beginners series as we approach the gardening season. This series of posts will go from basic ideas and tips on getting ready to garden, to optional things like growing herbs, and we will go more into depth as the series goes on. If you have an idea for a post or a topic in this series that you want me to cover, please contact me with the subject line of Gardening 101.
Before you order the seeds and before you start dreaming about fresh squash and zucchini, you need to find a spot to put that garden. The first year we moved into our house I selected a spot for the garden. This was before we had any extra buildings on the property like the chicken coop and the garage. The ground tilled up easily and I would have had a great garden except for the fact that they day after we planted we had a really bad rain storm and it washed away alot of my plants. I had selected a good spot as far as the ground went but I failed to look at where the water would flow in the event of a rainstorm. I still ended up having an ok garden because of the starter plants but all the seeds I had planted washed away.
The next year, last year, we decided to make the garden bigger so it had to be moved. We had put up our chicken shed and moved one of our small sheds and there just wouldn't be enough room. I knew better than to move it to a spot where the water would flow since we've had issues every year out here, and so I picked a new spot where I could have lots of room. We went and borrowed a tiller for the hubby's father and started tilling up the garden. The ground didn't budge. The hubby ran the tiller over it once and after he was done it looked like he didn't even do anything. So my dad brought over his tractor and we tried again. It was still very difficult but we made a little progress. After he finished with the tractor we took manure and spread it all over the garden and tried to till it up again with the hand tiller. The sod was still hard and difficult so in the end we ended up using a hoe and a hand rake to at least get the soil ok to plant my starters. My garden did ok but still wasn't the best. After we finished last year dad brought the tractor again and the big plow and ran it through the garden. Hopefully this year with a little extra work it will be ready to go.
The moral of the story is... pick your spot for a garden wisely. Here are some basic tips:
- Pick a spot with the best soil. It doesn't have to be perfectly black beautiful dirt, it just should be workable. You cal always add in minerals and such later. For example our soil is ok, but we will be adding more manure this year and we will be adding sand to make it porous. Obviously try to avoid an area with alot of rocks.
- Pick a spot in the sun or in partial sun/shade. Not a shady spot.
- Think about your water source. You need to be able to haul water easily to the garden or at least be in hose distance to your hydrant.
- What about wind? Out here on the prairie it's difficult to avoid the wind so I do other things to prevent my plants from dying from wind exposure. However if you have a natural windbreak in your land or if you are planning on building a solid fence those would be ideal.
- Pick a spot away from the natural disaster elements. In my example above we moved our garden to avoid flooding last year. There is an old creek bed that runs through our land that I didn't see until we looked at Google maps. It was something that needed to be avoided.
Next Week: Part 2 ~ Picking out seeds
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