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NOW is the time to get your plants in the ground. This winter is what we gardeners would call a “Blackberry Winter.” What this means is that the cooler weather has stayed with us a little longer than usual. So, it’s not too late to get your garden in the ground–literally!
If you’re following our series on getting started, you should already have the following information:
1) How will you plant? In a container or in the ground or maybe an above ground bed?
2) Where is the best place to plant your garden? What part of your yard gets at least 6 hours of full sun?
3) Is water easily accessible to my garden?
Starting your garden isn’t rocket science, but you do need to know a few things. Since everyone has different needs and plans, we’re going to break it up into Container Gardens, In Ground Beds, and Above Ground Beds. We will break these into 3 different posts to make it easier to follow.
Planting a garden in the ground, is a great way to have a garden, big or small! It’s the “old fashioned” way of gardening. Digging or tilling is the method of getting your plants in the ground, so we’ll talk about it.
The first thing about “in ground gardening” is getting the grass out of the way. A tiller is the most efficient way of getting the grass out. You can rent a tiller from a local rental business for an hourly rate or borrow one. You can also pay someone with a tractor to come and till your ground.
Check out my favorite Mantis Tiller HERE!
Tillers are GREAT tools to have around. They have multiple uses around the yard, from landscaping, edging, trenching, and we even used it to dig the line for our underground fence for our dog. They also come in all different sizes.
There are many different tillers out there. But my favorite is the Mantis Tiller. It’s light weight and easy to manipulate around plants but stong enough to dig a hole for a tree. I highly recommend this tiller for gardening in an urban area! (And I’m not getting paid to say that, either!) I know there are other tillers out there but we are talking about URBAN gardening, so if you live in a community with restrictions, you probably don’t have room to store a large tiller. We can till anytime of the year and use it for multiple odd jobs around the yard! These are not inexpensive items, however, they can be a GREAT investment!
Tilling your garden will require you to determine bed size and location (hopefully close to a water hose), as we talked about in the beginning. Once you know these requirements, you can start moving dirt!
Till your garden until anything that once was, is no more! We usually till in two directions, horizontally and then vertically. This usually will turn up all of the dirt in your garden.
Now your dirt has been tilled and it looks like a garden bed. But now what?
Remove any large rocks and clumps of grass and weeds. (This is something you can do periodically has you are tilling).
Till over your garden a second time without the debris and begin tilling in rows.
Consider ammending your soil. Depending on your soil type, your soil may not have all the nutrients necessary to have a successful garden. The United States has “Extension Offices” which provide soil testing to people who request it. It means you take a sample of dirt to the office and they test it and tell you what your soil needs are and what is required to improve your soil. Check out their site: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/
It is important to know what your soil requirements are. Your soil may be extremely acidic and adding more acidic fertilizer could harm your plants.
Add compost. We will talk about composting in another post, but Composting is always a good type of fertilizer to add to your soil before planting.
Determine how you will group your plants. You may want to draw this in your journal to get an idea of where to put what. Remember that certain plants need room to expand. Squash will need a good 3 feet around it to have plenty of room and the same goes for tomatoes. Tomatoes will grow in a bush and need good airflow to keep any mold down. However, if you’re growing pole beans (green beans) you’ll want to plant them straight in rows with a trellis for them to climb, unless you use bush green beans.
CONSIDER A WEED BARRIER
Weed barriers can really help a first time garden and can be varied in materials. Weed barriers help keep weeds out while allowing moisture to penetrate, as well as keep the soil warm. Simply lay the weed barrier and cut small “x” into the barrier to add your plants.
In the first year of an “in ground garden” weeds can be rampant if you don’t stay on top of the pulling. Weed barriers can help keep weeds from taking over. I highly recommend weed barriers! There are actual weed barriers you can purchase at home improvement stores or online. Or you can just recycle something you already have, like black ink newspaper. There are multiple types of weed barrier. Anything from a home store can be used but you can also order weed barrier that is biodegradable online. Click HERE to see more about biodegradable weed barrier. OR click “ HERE.
Plant your plants. Remember to follow the instructions that come with your plants regarding depth of planting and distance between each plant.
WATERING. It is important that your garden get water. However, it isn’t a good thing to water a garden daily. It is always better to deep water less often rather than to give shallow watering with greater frequency. Shallow, frequent watering encourages a shallow root system that is vulnerable to future dry times. By watering deeply you promote a deeper and stronger root system that is better able tolerate periods of dry weather.
- With regard to watering, consider taking a hand shovel and digging a scoop of your dirt to see how moist the deeper part of the dirt is. If it’s moist, then your garden doesn’t need watering. If it seems dry, it probably does.
**WHAT I’VE LEARNED**
We want to remind you that we never stop learning! If you have any tips or suggestions, PLEASE share them so we can all benefit! Green Urban Farmers does not know everything! We simply share our knowledge and experience. There’s always so much more information out there!
There are so many things to learn about gardening and we want to encourage you to read, read, read! There’s so much great information out there!
We would like to recommend a few great resources we enjoy reading and learning from. You can also visit your local library to puruse great gardening books!
Don’t forget to check out our website www.greenurbanfarmers.com!