Thursday, November 30, 2017

Prepping My Garden for Next Year

Over the past week, I've been working on preparing my garden areas for next year. I'm also buying seed and a few tools I will need for next year. Now is a good time to do so, since we are still in a "business-as-usual" atmosphere (meaning that store shelves are still full, delivery systems are still working, and the dollar still buys stuff). There is no guarantee this will still be the case when planting time rolls around next spring. 

My "Back Porch Garden."

So, what exactly am I doing?  One example is the area surrounding my back porch. This is an area where I will be growing tomatoes and peppers  this coming year. I've been using this area, which surrounds 2 and 3/4 sides of the porch, for years and have it marked of with large stones. 

To prep this area, I started by pulling up by hand  all remaining plants, grass, and weeds last week. Then I placed some large pieces of cardboard on top of the soil. Next, I raked leaves (of which I have plenty) on top of the cardboard, making a really tick pile. I watered down the leaves, which helped compact down the leaves and will assist in the decomposition process. You may also wish to sprinkle some lime on the leaves, which will also help the decomposition process as well as raising your soils ph, if your soil is too acidic. Finally, I covered the leaves with some old sheets and blankets. This will hold the leaves in place (so I don't have to keep raking them over and over) and will aid in decomposition.

The advantage to using old blankets instead of black plastic, in my opinion, is that they allow much more water- and air-flow, which will speed up decomposition. Black plastic does raise the temperature more, but cuts off most of the water- and air-flow. 

I plan to pull off the blankets a week or two before I start planting next year. I have a local source of worms that I can buy in lots of 500, so I plan on buying a couple thousand and spreading on my garden areas. The worms will quickly go to work eating the organic matter and pooping out lots of wonderful organic fertilizer throughout my gardens. 

Depending on the state of decomposition, I may or may not add a thin layer of soil on top of the leaves before planting, which I am buying and having delivered now.

Tip: You can often get large pieces of used cardboard from furniture stores (furniture is often delivered wrapped in these cardboard sheets), and grocery stores (where they are used between layers on pallets). The cardboard I used this week was from a furniture store. In the past, I've also gotten large sheets of cardboard my my local Aldi's.

This coming year, I will be growing my lettuce and other salad greens, along with radishes, carrots, and onions in special containers (watch for a future article on that). Cabbages, which need to be rotated every year, will be grown in the garden area by my backyard fence. And the rest of my crops will be planted in main garden area, which I am currently working on expanding. My plan for next year is to grow more food than I ever had.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

I urge everyone to work on getting their gardens ready for planting next year. Right now, you can still buy the stuff you need - seeds, tools, water hoses, lime, soil amendments, etc. Who knows what the situation will be next spring. 

Of Interest:
 Starter Vegetable Gardens -  This book contains 24 "No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens." These easy-to-follow plans are perfect for those new to gardening in general or organic gardening in particular.
Japanese Hori Hori Garden Knife - This hybrid knife and garden scoop can do almost anything in the garden - weed, dig, prune, transplant, measure, cut, harvest. WARNING: This is a very sharp, high-quality, full-tang knife blade.

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